My expectations were high. I’m a Marvel fanboy through and through. So was the newest Marvel movie (and 9th movie in this universe) able to live up to those standards?
Firstly, if you haven’t already, check out my “What You Need to Know” video if you haven’t seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet but maybe need a refresher before you do.
The gist of this installment is that Steve Rogers / Captain America, played by Chris Evans, is now working alongside S.H.I.E.L.D. and doing covert ops with fellow Avenger, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Things start to seem a little strange and Rogers eventually uncovers corruption inside of S.H.I.E.L.D. that jeopardizes the safety of the entire world. New to the cast is Rogers’ new buddy Sam Wilson / The Falcon, who is suited up with a pair of metallic wings. We also have Robert Redford joining the cast, as S.H.I.E.L.D. executive Alexander Pierce.
Things get crazy when an elite assassin shows up to take out Captain America. This assassin has been credited with assassinations over the past 50 years and some people doubt he even exists. But the lethal Winter Soldier does exist… and he’s coming for Cap.
As a villain, the Winter Soldier might be up there with Loki for being one of the best. Sebastian Stan absolutely steals every scene he’s in. Loki is a hit because of his charisma and ability with words, while the Winter Soldier is absolutely terrifying because of his lack of words. Every single time he showed up on screen, I got on the edge of my seat. He wasn’t in the movie much until the latter portion but when he’d show up… he demolished anything and everything. It’s saying a lot that they were able to give this character that sort of weight, when even characters like the Abomination (The Incredible Hulk) or the Ironmonger (Iron Man) didn’t have that sort of impact when they’d show up on screen. A lot of this is auditory, as the sound and music is perfect and complements his entrances well.
Tying into that, the fight scenes are incredible. Captain America and the Winter Soldier have a few hand-to-hand fights and each one is stellar. Cap also has a fight with a thug named Batroc towards the beginning of the movie and that fight was an incredible way to open up the movie.
In terms of story, we get something very different here. This is, at its core, a political espionage story. Who do you trust? There are a lot of intense and quiet moments, which make the exhilarating action sequences even more impactful. Robert Redford gives a great performance as Alexander Pierce, a man you don’t really trust from the beginning. Anthony Mackie is also a great addition and I appreciated the moments that we see Mackie as a struggling veteran before he’s brought back into action. Him and Cap had a few shared moments that were really touching.
And in terms of effecting the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, this movie had (hands down) the most impact. Things will never be the same and I’m curious how Avengers: Age of Ultron deals with the repercussions of this movie. I’m also really curious how Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. deals with these changes.
What doesn’t work?
My only complaint about Captain America: The Winter Soldier is that the visuals didn’t seem as polished as some other Marvel outings. Most notably, the Falcon’s flying effects seemed lacking. I wanted to love his fight scenes but I was distracted by the bad CGI that I felt myself nitpicking that instead of enjoying the action. Even though this is just one point, it was distracting enough to really deter from my experience.
We are lucky. Depending on how you feel about Iron Man 3, these past few entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been incredible. Thor: The Dark World was great and Captain America: The Winter Soldier definitely lives up to those expectations. It’s got incredible action, a stellar villain, and really gives a deeper look at Captain America as a character. This movie also has a lasting impact on the universe, so this is a must-see if you’re planning on catching Avengers: Age of Ultron next summer. I don’t know if I’d recommend 3D necessarily, but the 2D experience was incredible.