Directed by: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. You know, I think I’m getting just about ready to do my long-form post about superhero movies. I meant to do it last year, and then I meant to do it this year, and now it’s almost next year and I still haven’t done it. I’ve been playing catch-up with the ever-effusive list of comic book superhero movies, but I’m behind because I’m getting less and less satisfaction from them. (I’m going to try my best to see the much-ballyhooed Guardians of the Galaxy before the year’s out!) But judging by this movie and by the last superhero movie I saw, the disappointingly average X-Men: Days of Future Past, I think the thesis of my superhero post will be basically that they’re the most over-hyped, over-done, tons of style and no substance movies of our generation. This one, like the final X-Men movie, was decently praised by the critics and by like-minded friends, enough that I was expecting something above the ordinary. The first Captain America was a pretty ordinary, forgettable romp, an unabashedly self-aware, campy film that functions mostly as a merchandising vehicle and set-up for the big Avengers crossover movie. But this one, I was assured, is actually a really intelligent movie, offering a really sophisticated commentary on the modern surveillance state and moral relativity and a deconstruction of mindless patriotism, and it’s all the more poignant and fascinating because it was released in the aftermath of the NSA scandal, etc, etc, etc. And for the first 30 or 40 minutes, to be fair, it was really barking up that tree. But then there’s that scene in the bunker with Toby Jones as the retro-computer-consciousness of the mad scientist from the first movie, who’s had his brain uploaded into the 1940’s computers (because that’s a thing). In that completely on-the-nose, Austin Powers-esque scene, the cartoonish supervillain spills the beans about the entire plot in a big, overdone, monologue, explaining how actually, what looked like a nuanced take on moral relativism and a critique of the ethics of the modern surveillance state turns out to be a story of an evil secret society of Nazi-knockoffs (if Gary Shandling saying “Hail HYDRA” under his breath isn’t terrifying, I don’t know what is) who have infiltrated the otherwise-sterling SHIELD organization. So what we end up with for the last 80 minutes is a pretty standard good-guys versus bad-guys punch-em-up, rock-em-sock-em, CGI explosions and pat, sentimental comic book morality. And really, what else was anyone expecting from a comic book superhero movie?