- Review: 9.5
Captain America: The First Avenger was a good film. The problem for it was that it is in a big field of great Marvel films. Poor Steve Rogers just came in last when compared to the strong solo outings of his other super hero friends. On his second go around he has another chance to prove himself, and prove himself he has. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not just a great film like the others; it is a phenomenal film. The combined might of all the characters in the Avengers use to be king of the hill but this film has been crowned the new champion.
The battle for New York during the Avengers is now in the past and Steve is trying to live his life in Washington DC, working for Nick Fury as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and teamed with the Black Widow. Things for a super hero rarely stay quite, and Steve is quickly thrust into uncovering some dark secrets about the organization he works for. To make matters worse, a secret agent is brought in to kill him and his allies, the mysterious Winter Soldier.
What makes the film spectacular is the balance of political thriller and action. Robert Redford is fantastic as Alexander Pierce, the man who is quickly consolidating S.H.I.E.L.D. under his own control from Nick Fury. He is a normal man with no super abilities, but he masterfully and diabolically moves around the pieces as if it were a chess board.
Then you have the action side of it. As a newcomer, the Falcon is wonderful. The character comes to life from a great performance from Anthony Mackie. His mechanical wings come to life in the movie and his representation is better than I could have hoped for, characterization and abilities. Watching him soar through the air during the final battle was incredible to say the least.
Of course you have Scarlet Johansson back as the Black Widow, and she is just as wonderful as she was in the Avengers. Samuel L Jackson even gets a beefier role here as Nick Fury with an exceptional car chase scene. The big change comes from Captain America himself, Chris Evans. His first outing didn’t give him a chance to show off his fighting abilities to the max, and in the Avengers you only got glimpses. Here it is a game changer. His shield is used during every fight, and it is used a lot. He uses it expertly to give himself advantage during battles along with his incredible hand to hand combat and acrobatics. Steve truly feels like a bad-ass here.
Sebastian Stan might have the best role of the film, though. The Winter Soldier is a one man army and extremely deadly. He easily takes down numerous agents throughout the film and is an excellent opponent for Steve to go head to head with during several great pieces. After this performance, I really hope we might see the mantle of Captain America passed as it was in the comics.
For hardcore fans, there is no end to little Marvel references sprinkled throughout the film. On a small pocket notebook Steve carries around, he scribbles notes of things he needs to catch up on that he missed during his long sleep, and you can spy Battlin’ Jack written in it, a nice little Daredevil reference. You get to hear Stephen Strange’s name first uttered in a Marvel film and even Gary Shandling makes a welcome return as Senator Stern from Iron Man 2. This is just a taste of some of the Easter eggs you’l find from the comics and movies.
I went into this film with high expectations that I wasn’t sure if could possibly be met. Luckily those expectations were fulfilled and even exceded. A good sign of leaving a movie is if you want to see it again. I sat in the theater after the post credit scenes (it is a Marvel movie after all) and was ready to watch it again immediately. Marvel has set a new standard here for showing the depth they can add to their films and Captain America has set a high bar that is going to be hard to beat, but I have a feeling Marvel is just getting started.