Captain America: The Winter Soldier is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and stars Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie as the Falcon, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Without a doubt, this cast and the movie overall do a great job of bringing you in from the beginning sequence and not letting go until the last scene plays after the end credits.
I knew I was going to love this movie from the second I saw the very first preview roll across my TV screen. I enjoyed the first Captain America film immensely, and this one takes everything that the first film did right and makes it even better. From the storyline to the action sequences to the overall feel of the film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is definitely going to be a contender for best superhero film, if not best film, of the season for me.
The story starts like you would expect from a Marvel film. The Captain and Black Widow are working on a case for Nick Fury. During the course of the case, S.H.I.E.L.D. comes under attack by an unknown assailant who must be discovered by the duo, with help from other supporting characters, before the entire agency gets torn apart. This film is such a strong entry into the franchise because it doesn’t fall into just one genre. It is at its heart, of course, a superhero film, but it also delves into the spy movie and action genres as well. If there’s one thing to be said about it, it’s that after the events in it, nothing in Marvel’s universe will ever be the same. I don’t want to spoil anything here for those who haven’t seen the film yet, but let’s just say that the Captain, S.H.I.E.L.D., and everyone else who takes part in the movie have some serious rethinking to do moving forward. It’ll be intriguing to see exactly how Marvel decides to spin the events of this film in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show and the upcoming movies.
During the course of the film, some of the best action sequences I’ve seen in a while take place. There are car chases mixed with air combat and even some great just plain hand-to-hand sequences. These scenes keep the film from ever feeling long or drawn out, and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. At the same time, the comedic moments help the movie in the realm of the other films. No matter what’s going on in the movie, big or small, every sequence is full of plot development in one way or another. Whether the air is ripe with tension as a fight breaks out or the characters are simply taking a car ride somewhere, every scene feels necessary and adds to the overall quality and scope of the film.
The characters in the film also help it to be one of the best entries into the genre thus far. Captain America is stuck in the current day having to learn how to live in a world completely different from the one he knew after the crazy events that happened in New York during The Avengers. This is an obvious struggle for him, since he doesn’t know his place in the world and the people who were around him during his time are either dead or very old. Meanwhile, he’s also still a man who’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes in and fight for it with everything he has. Black Widow is also given her own arc to develop along the way. She and Captain America form a bond, and it will be interesting to see how it grows in later films. At the same time, she’s fighting her own inner moral battle that we get to see play out nicely here. Black Widow has been a character who, even without her own movie, has been given a pretty detailed and interesting backstory. This film has her placed in a situation where she has to decide what she is really fighting for.
Nick Fury, Alexander Pierce, and the Winter Soldier himself are also all given a good amount of screen time to flesh their characters out. In the case of Fury, we see a more human side of him than was previously shown before. Alexander Pierce’s addiction to power and fighting for what he thinks is right no matter what the cost is refreshing to see in a cast of characters who seem to have to hold themselves to a higher standard as a good guy. The Winter Soldier is a terrifyingly relentless villain, and his revealed connection to one character in particular is utterly astounding and jaw-dropping for those who have not already read the comics. The Falcon as the Captain’s sidekick is also a nice addition to the crew.
The character themselves would be nothing if it were not for the talented actors who are portraying them. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, and Samuel L. Jackson do a particularly fantastic job of making their characters feel fleshed out. Those few, in particular, I think did the most in terms of showing their acting chops and their ability to produce a quality film. The other more minor characters, besides Emily VanCamp who was sadly not really given a character with much development in this particular film, are all very well-acted.
Overall, Captain America: The Winter Soldier does everything right. It takes a spy thriller, action film, and superhero movie and throws them all together to make one fantastic spectacle. The characters are incredibly alluring, and the actors who play them do an amazing job of bringing them to life on screen. If you haven’t already seen this movie, I highly recommend you do. It changes everything from here going forward in the Marvel universe, and does it in a way that leaves you wanting more.
For more discussion, head over to the NBF YouTube channel for more on diversity, equality, and politics within Captain America: Winter Soldier and the comic counterparts: