As Marvel fans, we’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment over the last decade with introducing our kids to these stories; first watching at home, then as they got older, seeing them in theatres and witnessing them flip out with giddy excitement at character reveals and plot twists. But recently we realized: we’ve never watched all of them as a family, and certainly not in release order. And that’s left some gaps in their understanding of the relationships between all these heroes.
Thus, as a family, we pledged to embark upon an epic MCU rewatch before we see Avengers: Endgame in the theatre, and answer the all-important question: should you watch these with your kids?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Finally, after two disappointing and needless sequels, we’re back to what feels like the real deal. Marvel moviemakers got two critical elements right with this movie: instead of having Captain America (Chris Evans) face a new challenge alone, they paired him with Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson); and rather than resting the plot on just fighting a Big Bad, they decided on making it a genre film other than simply “superhero movie”.
Steve Rogers aka Captain America is working for SHIELD out of the Triskelion building in Washington, D.C. under Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Secretary of Internal Security Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a senior SHIELD official. He’s sent with Agent Romanoff aka Black Widow on a mission to rescue hostages being held on a SHIELD ship that’s been attacked by pirates. During the operation, Rogers discovers Romanoff downloading encrypted files to a flash drive, on a side mission for Fury.
Back in D.C., Fury gets suspicious when he’s unable to decrypt the data. Shortly after, he’s the subject of an attempt on his life led by a mysterious assassin known colloquially as The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). He manages to evade the killer and makes it to Steve Rogers’ apartment, where he reveals that SHIELD has been compromised; but he’s shot by a sniper and critically wounded.
With Fury declared officially dead, Captain America and Black Widow are suddenly fugitives. They enlist the help of Sam Wilson, who uses a high-powered “wingpack” as Falcon. Along with Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), the friends must uncover the roots of the conspiracy that threatens SHIELD and their own very lives. At the same time, the identity of The Winter Soldier is revealed to Steve, and this adds a complex emotional layer to the film and to the final big action sequence.
It’s a smart, taut political thriller that harkens back to classic 70s films like Three Days of the Condor (also starring Redford), and also features great-looking action – car chases, foot chases, hand-to-hand combat in close quarters… It’s got everything. This is the good, good, Marvel stuff, and feels like a return to excellent form after a couple of clunkers in Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. It’s been on Netflix for a while and I can’t believe I’ve taken this long to rewatch it.
So, should you watch it with your kids? Yes. While the conspiracy-laden plot might go over their heads, there’s also plenty of exciting action that keeps the pace moving along briskly. Just be prepared to explain who Robert Redford is!
Bottom line: Unmissable, in part because it’s one of the better Marvel movies, but also essential viewing because it introduces The Winter Soldier and Falcon and lays important groundwork for the events coming up in Captain America: Civil War.