I’ll start out by being honest. I love the Marvel films. I was not a fan of “Captain America: the First Avenger”. It was a little too cheesy for me, and i just didn’t help me get past the whole ‘MURICA! thing. “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3” still stand at the top for me, but “Captain America: the Winter Soldier” holds its own, and vastly improves on its predecessor.
“The Winter Soldier” is Captain America’s first outing since “The Avengers”. He’s working full-time as a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, but lately it seems he’s been handling Nick Fury’s clean-up. After a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship is hijacked by pirates (led by MMA legend, Georges St. Pierre), their latest security endeavor seems to be in jeopardy. Things get worse when there’s an attempt on Fury’s life by the myth-like assassin, the Winter Soldier. Cap finds himself alone, against the very people he used to call allies. There’s no new ground being broken here, but it works.
“I thought you were more than a shield.”
By now, all the regular cast members are so cemented in their roles that there’s almost no point commenting. Evans is a great Steve Rogers. Johansson brings charm and charisma to the Black Widow (more badass in each film), and Samuel L Jackson has grabbed his role as Fury by the horns and made it his (regardless of however tailor-made it already was for him). Robert Redford is a nice addition as the scheming Alexander Pierce, as well as Anthony Mackie as Falcon. The return of Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier is nice to see, though the character is not given all that much to do.
The Winter Soldier is literally the subtitle of the film, and in the movie it’s reflected as a feeling that he is a secondary treat. The film has its overarching villains, and so Cap’s rival just feels kind of tacked on. There’s a brief scene outlining how he’s been around for fifty years and involved in numerous assassinations, but it’s not enough. I, personally, could have done with a lot more of him, and at least a bit more context about his past and why he’s such a badass. It would make him more complete as a character and more imposing as a villain.
“This isn’t freedom. This is fear.”
This last complaint is probably nitpicking, but I can’t get it out of my head. These single-hero films post-“The Avengers” just don’t sit quite well with me. The Hulk is off on his own, fine. Thor’s in another dimension, okay. But where’s Iron Man? Where is Hawkeye? Nick Fury is almost killed, the world is under threat by a far-reaching organization and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top two assets don’t think to show up? For that matter, where was Cap in “Iron Man 3” when the President was kidnapped? I know this is Cap’s movie, but we need a LOGICAL reason for the absence of certain characters.
Those issues aside, the action is intense, and the fights are brutal and impressive (GSP’s Batroc, and the elevator fight being highlights in my book). The mid-credit stinger packs a bit more punch than the post-credit one (Marvel really needs to work on that), and gives a good tease for “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”. So, I can say I’m excited for Captain America’s next outing, which is something I didn’t think I’d say before.