Australian Council on Children and the Media

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Not recommended under 14, PG to 15 (Violence and scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • a review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 April 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 14 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 14 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence
Children aged 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, action violence, sexual references and coarse language
Length 136 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film begins with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett  Johansson) and a host of S.H.I.E.L.D commandos storming a hijacked ship at sea to rescue a group of hostages from modern day pirates. While Captain America rescues the hostages, Black Widow manages to infiltrate the ship’s computer system and recover data suggesting that there might be some rotten apples within the S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation.  Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings his concerns about this to the Secretary of the World Security Council, Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford). However, Nick is then attacked and killed by the world’s most notorious assassin, The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), an ex Russian black-ops cyborg.

Captain America is next to be targeted by the Winter Soldier. He is branded a rogue agent and forced to fight against the very S.H.I.E.L.D. agents with whom he once worked. In a bid to uncover those responsible for Nick Fury’s assassination, Captain America teams up with Black Widow and a new ally, The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). They uncover a sinister organisation out of the past, bent on overthrowing S.H.I.E.L.D. and ruling the world.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Super heroes; assassins; good verses evil

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense action violence, including shooting, stabbings, strangling and punching, car chases and explosions throughout. Examples include:

  • Captain America kicks a pirate in the knee and we hear the sounds of bones breaking
  • Captain America throws a knife at a pirate impaling the mans’ hand to a wall (no blood and gore is depicted)
  • A female commando uses a garrotte to strangle a pirate
  • Several police cars deliberately ram into the side of a car and a number of police officers fire handguns and automatic weapons at the car, then move a mechanical ram to the side of the vehicle and repeatedly ram the door in an attempt to break in and get at the driver; In response the driver fires an automatic weapon at the police, shooting and killing several of the police officers. The driver then uses a grenade launcher to fire at a police van which explodes in flames. The car drives off with a number of police cars in pursuit, running into a number of civilian cars and running down police officers. Eventually a projectile fired at the car causes it to explode. 
  • Nick is shot in the chest by an assassin. We see him lying on a hospital operating table with bullet wounds on his chest, blood on sheeting and a surgeon with blood covered surgical gloves. Heart monitors indicate that he has died and surgeons use a defibrillator in an attempt to restart his heart. Later we see his body lying on a hospital bed.
  • A group of men in a lift attack Captain America using electrified batons. Captain America punches and kicks them, as well as turning his attackers’ weapons on themselves, to render them all unconscious. He then crashes through the elevator’s plate-glass wall, falling hundreds of metres to the ground and surviving uninjured.
  • We see a man remorselessly kills his house keeper, shooting her twice in the chest.
  • A man is attacked by a group of commandos. He uses a knife to slash the throats and chests of some attackers and then shoots others.    
  • In the film’s final epic battle soldiers are killed when grenades explode, dozens of soldiers are shot and a soldier is killed when he is sucked into an aircraft carrier’s giant exhaust fan. There is a knife fight between Captain America and the Winter Soldier ending in Captain America breaking the arm of the Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier shoots Captain America in the torso three times and brutally punches Captain America repeatedly in the face. Three gigantic airships fire cannons at each other resulting in ships exploding and causing mass destruction when they crash into buildings, the ground and the sea.
  • A woman is held hostage by a man who threatens to detonate an explosive device pinned to her chest; the woman detonates the device herself but manages to survive.
  • A man is strapped to a chair with some kind of electric shock device attached to his head and a rubber restraint in his mouth. The machine is turned on and we see him convulse and scream out in pain.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • One of the film’s lead characters wears an eye patch over one of his eyes and has several scars running across the side of his face. At one point during the film the character removes his eye patch to reveal a deformed, milky-looking eye. 
  • One character wears a black mask across the lower portion of his face and has a silver mechanical arm attached to his torso, in one scene we see ragged stitching where the mechanical arm has been stitched to his torso. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above- mentioned violence and scary characters.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern in the film, but plenty of associated Marvel Comics merchandise.

Sexual references

The film contains occasional low-level sexual references including:

  • A woman jests with Captain America about asking a woman out on a date, but Captain America replies that he is too tired and too busy.
  • While mildly flirting with his female neighbour, Captain America tells the woman he would keep his distance from her to which she replies “Hopefully not too far”
  • A woman asks a man to kiss her, telling him that displays of public affection make people uncomfortable. 

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A couple kiss passionately on the lips for several seconds in order to evade pursuers

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Social drinking
  • A man self injects pain killers following a vehicle accident in which he was injured.

Coarse language

The film contains occasional low-level coarse language. Examples include:

  •  hell; damn; dumb arse; shit; son of a bitch

In a nutshell

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the second instalment in the Marvel Captain America series, is a fantasy action film targeting adolescent males, adults who enjoy super hero films and fans of Marvel Comics. It is darker than many similar films and seems to contain more violent scenes than necessary for the plot. It therefore deserves the M rating, and is not recommended for under fourteen year olds. Parental guidance is recommended for slightly older teens

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Sometimes in order to build something new, we have to first destroy the old.
  • It is hard to trust people that you do not know.

 Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include friendship and trust – both of which are seen as having to be earned.

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