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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Captain America: The Winter Soldier -- the second Captain America movie in the Avengers franchise -- is more violent than Cap's first outing. While it focuses more on character and on the themes of military paranoia, it still features heavy fantasy fighting, with shooting, punching, and wince-inducing hand-to-hand combat, as well as some blood and death. Sex isn't an issue, though there's some commentary about Cap's nonexistent dating life, and he shares a strategic kiss with Black Widow. Language is minor, but a few strong words can be somewhat heard during noisy battle sequences. Like the other superhero movies in this series, this one is marketed with toys, games, and other paraphernalia that younger kids might be clamoring for.
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What's the story?
At the start of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), finds life in the 21st century challenging. He seems daunted by the prospect of a relationship, but even worse is the fact that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) seems to be sending him on missions without telling him what's really going on. This mistrust is deepened when Cap and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) learn about the existence of an evil organization, HYDRA, planted within S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Add to that a powerful, mysterious new foe that goes by the name of "The Winter Soldier," plus the fact that Cap has now been put on the most wanted list, makes this a very bad day. Fortunately, Cap has some new help in the form of a Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
Is it any good?
Chris Evans has grown significantly in his role since The Avengers, and is far more appealing here. The first movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, looked great, but was somehow lacking in the character department as it unfolded its lengthy, convoluted origin story. Captain America: The Winter Soldier focuses more on character, which is great, though the brother directors Anthony and Joe Russo -- who take over for Joe Johnston -- are camera-shakers, and the action in this movie is sorely lacking. For some reason, whenever Cap throws his shield or a fist, the camera jerks alongside it, rather than simply following it.
Fortunately, the heart of the movie is still beating. Evans goes for the same kind of charming, simple quality that Christopher Reeve had in the Superman movies. He's ever so slightly uncertain, and he generates some warm chemistry with his co-stars, especially Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie. If only the movie had a little more downtime to spend with them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is Captain America: The Winter Soldier darker than the other superhero movies you've seen? What would be the real-life consequences of the violence in the movie?
What sets Captain America apart from other superheroes? How does he compare to Batman? Iron Man? Is he more or less of a "good guy" than those characters?
What's the movie's message about freedom and fear? Why is the hero named after America? Could he have just as easily been Captain Argentina? Captain China? Why or why not?
- In theaters: April 4, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: September 9, 2014
- Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson
- Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Character Strengths: Courage, Integrity, Perseverance
- Run time: 136 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.