Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the third film in Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man 3 was disappointing, but Thor: The Dark World was slightly better due to Loki’s presence. However, Captain America: The Winter Solider just might be one of the best films Marvel has done since the first Iron Man and The Avengers.
The plot follows Captain America (Chris Evans), who is still adjusting to the modern world. He doesn’t have very many relationships with the people around him. Black Widow/Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) tries to introduce him to people and throughout the film they develop a stronger bond of friendship together. Captain America also realizes that S.H.I.E.L.D may not be what it says it is. There are new weapons being created that will kill millions of threats before they become threats. “”This isn’t freedom. This is fear” says Captain America. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely did a wonderful job with the screenplay. I don’t want to spoil the story, but it is extremely suspenseful, ambitious, and filled with clever twists and turns along the way (some obvious and some not so obvious).
The second Captain America film almost makes the original seem like a joke when compared. This isn’t a typical superhero film. In fact, at times it feels like a conspiracy-espionage thriller. The sequel is more serious and darker than previous Marvel films. While it’s dark, it still has the occasional dose of humor – but it’s very balanced. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo did a great job with keeping every single moment of the film engaging. The film favors character development and hand to hand combat over large CGI fights like you would normally see in a superhero film. All the action scenes were great, fast-paced, and extremely intense. Stand outs include the first action sequence on the boat, the fights between Captain America and The Winter Soldier, and a car chase that includes Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Every single action scene had me on the edge of my seat. Also, after watching Captain America’s Vibranium shield in action, who wouldn’t want it?
Chris Evans does a better job as Captain America than he did in the first film. He feels a lot more comfortable in the role. Scarlett Johannson also does great as usual. Both add more depth to the characters they are playing through their performances. Anthony Mackie does a great job as Sam Wilson/Falcon and is a welcome addition to the franchise. Hopefully he will show up in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Samuel L. Jackson has his best scenes from any of the Marvel films in this movie. While the film is named The Winter Soldier, he only occasionally shows up and isn’t really the main villain. He isn’t complex or fleshed out, but he is definitely a formidable opponent for Captain America.
Overall, the film is the best entry individual entry in the Marvel franchise since the first Iron Man. It feels more grounded, darker, and was engaging throughout. The action scenes were great and the story was great. The film made me more of a fan of Captain America than I was before. I saw him as a boring, honest, schoolboy superhero, but now I am definitely a fan. Guardians of The Galaxy is the last film of Phase 2 before the next Avengers film and Captain America: The Winter Soldier has definitely set the bar high.
Notes: The mid-credit and post-credit scenes are great. The mid-credit scene has more to do with Avengers: Age of Ultron, while the post-credit scene has more to do with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The mid-credit scene introduced us to another smaller known villain who will probably be more prevalent as the films go on. And it also introduced us Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch who will show up in the next Avengers film.