Marvel expands, releases new movie

Thought the Marvel Cinematic Universe was huge already? Thought you enjoyed “Phase One” of its movies?

Think again, as the Disney-owned franchise has expanded and continued into “Phase Two” by releasing “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

The film, chronicling the life of super soldier Steve Rodgers after the events of “The Avengers,” was released in American theaters on April 4 and is in theaters in Great Falls. It’s Marvel’s ninth film to be released, and the third of “Phase Two.” Other Marvel films in the vast movie universe include “Iron Man,” “Thor,” and “The Avengers.”

Even if you aren’t an “Avengers” fanatic like myself, or haven’t seen all of Marvel’s movies, it would be well worth your time to take a trip down to Carmike Cinemas to see this new picture, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo.

The film doesn’t take long to make its way into action, as Captain America/Steve Rodgers, played by Chris Evans, teams up with the now straight-haired Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) to tackle a mission assigned by spy agency S.H.E.I.L.D. However, soon after the mission the Captain realizes something is up with S.H.E.L.D. and its eye-patched, black-coated director Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson.

Rodgers soon learns that there are few people left he can trust, and he recruits Romanoff and newfound friend Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), a veteran of the military, to discover what is going on and escape from new pursuers. Highlighting the group chasing the Captain and company is the Winter Soldier, (Sebastian Stan) an expert assassin with a metal arm and impressive set of fighting skills. The Winter Soldier proves a formidable enemy and a good fight for Captain America.

However, something is off about the Winter Soldier, and before the climactic battle of the film, the Captain comes to a rather horrifying realization regarding the Winter Soldier that causes him to think back to his World War II experiences. Despite this, Rodgers must still fight the final battle against the Winter Soldier and other enemies with a limited number of allies. Wilson comes through with some awesome moves of his own, and the Captain’s trademark star-spangled shield leads the way.

The movie ends with the typical Marvel cliffhanger that is sure to rock the world of upcoming movies, as well as the characters of this film. It is unclear how the Avengers, S.H.E.I.L.D., or Captain America will be able to continue.

They will continue, of course, so be sure to stay at the theater through the credits for scenes that tease to future Avengers and Captain America movies, as is Marvel’s style. There will be one mid-credits scene and one post-credits that set the stage for later films.

The movie was certainly action-packed, if a bit scarier than previous Marvel movies like “Iron Man” and “Thor.” The villains are creepy, there is intense fighting, and Nick Fury even takes off his eye patch, earning the film a PG-13 rating. The action definitely makes the movie worth seeing on the big screen, so I recommend seeing the film before it leaves theaters.

I also recommend you see the first Captain America film (or read some comics) in order to have a solid understanding of the backstory. The new Captain America still excites without the backstory, but flashbacks and multiple references to the first film could be confusing if the viewer is new to Captain America movies. Even if you don’t have time to see the first film before heading to theaters for the new one, at least take a gander over a plot summary of “Captain America: The First Avenger” to get an idea of the characters and events of the first film.

After you have seen the movie, I imagine you will have a new interest in Marvel movies. You’ll be happy to hear that Marvel is planning two more movies in “Phase Two,” and more in an upcoming “Phase Three,” which will include yet another Captain America film.

The first of the “Phase Two” upcoming films, according to Marvel’s website, will be released Aug. 1, and will be titled “Guardians of the Galaxy.” You should see the trailer for this upcoming release during the previews of “Winter Soldier.” 2015 will see the release of a sequel to the first Avengers film and will be called “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and yet another film will introduce the title character of “Ant-Man,” to be played by actor Paul Rudd. Marvel is nowhere near finished making superhero movies.

Still, until those movies mentioned above finish production and make their way to theaters, I recommend seeing “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” The film runs 136 minutes, and I have to believe it will get you hooked on Marvel movies for years to come.