This weekend, everyone’s favorite re-animated World War II super-soldier returns in Captain America: The Winter Soldier from Marvel Studios. As one might expect, there’s plenty of action, an intense storyline, and some returning characters from previous Marvel-based films—to go with new ones that comic book fans will likely recognize. Bottom line: Those who enjoyed the character’s previous outings, 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and 2012’s The Avengers, should find plenty to like in this latest installment.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place after the events of The Avengers, and finds Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), aka Captain America, struggling with being a hero in the modern world. An operative for the intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D., he works with the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), but finds himself uncomfortable with their secrecy. However, it isn’t long before the agency needs Rogers’ help: A ruthless terrorist organization, HYDRA, has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., and starts turning its resources on Captain America and his fellow heroes.
Luckily, the good guys refuse to go down without a fight, and this being a superhero movie, the fighting back consists of some pretty amazing feats. Captain America does plenty of fist and shield throwing, but there is also an impressive set piece in which he goes head-to-head on a motorcycle against a S.H.I.E.L.D. airship. The film also brings in two new additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, both of whom have their own fantastical abilities. The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) has a winged suit that lets him fly gracefully through the air. Then there’s the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) himself, a figure from Rogers’ past who is now a near-mindless killer with a robotic arm.
Despite a running time of more than two hours, Captain America: The Winter Soldier should keep audiences of all ages enthralled. While younger viewers might go in for the near-constant barrage of hand-to-hand fights, gun battles, and near-death escapes, other audiences may find the moral dilemma faced by main character to be more compelling. Captain America must decide what kind of hero he is: one who is loyal to his country, versus who’ll choose to do what’s right, even if that makes him public enemy no. 1.
That kind of moral complexity results in a movie that’s more interesting than it probably needed to be. It also results in a character that kids of all ages can and should aspire to become (Did we mention that the good captain also learns to trust people? This film’s full of valuable lessons for young ones). To that end, Hasbro has released an impressive line of Captain America: The Winter Soldier toys and accessories, including a helmet, a replica of the captain’s legendary shield, and all sorts of action figures based on the movie’s heroes and villains.
Whether they re-enact scenes from the film or invent entirely new adventures, kids can step into the boots of the title character, who is a pretty good role model, not just because he can vanquish bad guys, but because he’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes in.