Review – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is now in theaters in both the US and UK (the rest of the world will get to see it shortly, don’t worry!). Marvel has been hyping it for some time. Is it worth it? My verdict: oh, yes.

Now I have to say that Cap has never been my favorite of the Avengers. I have nothing against him, but he’s never drawn me quite as much as, say, Iron Man. Maybe he’s too goodie-goodie for me (though his sass can rival Tony Stark’s any day). But despite all that, this movie has had me drooling over the previews with its sheer awesomeness, and the film itself did not disappoint.

Alexander Pierce shaking hands with Steve RogersThe plot shook up the usual formula for the Marvel superhero films by centering it around a political conspiracy. It had action and adventure, but it was also a suspenseful thriller. And who better to cast in a political thriller than Robert Redford, who excelled in his role as Alexander Pierce. It took the old saying “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance” and turned it into something insidious, with that vigilance being the very thing taking away freedom. It wasn’t an overly complicated conspiracy. You could usually tell who was good and who was bad, and when it was revealed just why they were bad it wasn’t a morally gray reason so much as an evil villain reason, but still it kept your mind going while waiting for the next superbly choreographed fight scene.

I don’t want to spoil the plot, but suffice it to say that what happens here will have massive ramifications across the Marvel movie universe and for the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In fact, even though I still only have mild feelings of interest for that show, I am dying to know how the events of Winter Soldier are going to affect the storyline for Coulson and Co. Something that has been there from the beginning, starting with the very first Iron Man, is no longer around in the same way we’ve always known it. How will they go on?

The only thing I loved more than the plot was the characters. Steve’s adjustment to modern times was sometimes played for laughs, like his list of things he needs to catch up on, but it wasn’t overdone and also provided a source for character development. He’s a man out of time, but he’s still a man, not a caricature. The moments when he tried to reconnect with something from his past provided the deepest, most moving moments of the film, such as the reunion scene with Peggy, his visit to the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian, and of course (SPOILERS) his interactions with the titular Winter Soldier.

winter-soldier-captain-america--behind the scenes shot of Winter Soldier getting his hair done

The hair is important

If you were at least vaguely aware of the famous Winter Soldier storyline before seeing the movie, than the reveal of who he is was not at all a surprise. But even knowing who he was didn’t take away from the moment when Steve finally found out. His childhood friend, Bucky, who was like a brother to him, was now standing against him on the battlefield. I had hoped for a little more development of the Winter Soldier, but it was still amazing. Bucky was amazing—and pretty hot, with the hair and the arm and the man pain—and the fight scene at the end was filled with more emotion than any I’ve seen since Thor and Loki’s battle at the end of Thor.

captain-america-winter-soldier--Steve and Natasha

So when is the Black Widow movie happening, Marvel?

But Steve and Bucky weren’t the only characters being awesome. Natasha, aka the Black Widow, had a major role and she helped make the movie. Her deadpan humor and understated power in every scene was undercut only by the vagueness of her character’s back story. If Marvel isn’t keeping her story for a solo movie, which this film really makes me want to see more than ever, then they wasted a perfectly good opportunity to develop her character, especially considering her connection to the Winter Soldier in the comic books. In conclusion, the only disappointment about her character was there wasn’t enough of her. But if Marvel gives us that Black Widow movie they’ve been dangling over us, then all will be forgiven.

Then there’s Sam Wilson, the Falcon, a new character who was introduced and made his mark quickly and perfectly. If you come out of this film not loving Falcon, you are dead inside. He was perfection, and that’s all I can really say. Funny, talented, and amazing in the air. Though he lacked an actual falcon, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Almost all of the characters were great here. Nick Fury was at his best, but I can’t say much more about him without spoiling the plot. Agent Hill returned for too small of a role, but she provided a helping hand for Steve and Friends in the end. Peggy’s few scenes will make you cry. But then there’s Agent 13, who I felt was shoehorned in, like they wanted to introduce her as Steve’s potential love interest, but there was too much going on to do her character justice. Agent 13, or Sharon Carter, as comic book fans know her, is Peggy Carter’s niece, a fact briefly alluded to but never outright mentioned in the movie. I think the plot was too full to fit her in properly and it might have been better if they had waited for the next installment, but maybe they’ll keep developing her slowly like they’ve done with Black Widow—but hopefully not that slowly.

captain-america-winter-soldier--the Falcon in flight

Also, flying.

But the cherry on top of this superpowered sundae was all of the little things here and there. Steven Strange got a shout out alongside Bruce Banner, giving all fans hope that the rumored Doctor Strange movie really is in the works. There was an Ezekiel quote used for Nick Fury that Pulp Fiction fans will know by heart. Danny Pudi, of Community fame, made a small cameo that had me pointing at the screen with glee like a five-year-old. And, of course, there were those two after credits scenes. The first extra scene, appearing mid-credits after the end of the animated credit sequence, provided the now-typical set-up for future Marvel films. No spoilers here, but it gave us a sneak peek at something we’ll get to see more of in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Then the second scene, at the very end of the credits, was more of a character scene, focusing on the Winter Soldier himself. Again, no spoilers, but these scenes are worth staying until the very end. This movie will leave you not only wanting a third outing for Cap, but also solo films for Black Widow and the Winter Soldier (are you listening, Marvel?). If you’re a Captain America fan, you’ll love it. If you’re a Marvel movie fan, you’ll love it. Even if you’re just a movie fan, you’ll love it.

What did you think of the movie? Sound off in the comments!