Stars: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, and Robert Redford
You know that feeling when a movie exceeds your expectations and then some? That’s exactly the reaction I had during my first viewing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier on Tuesday night. I’ve never been a Captain America fan by any means. In fact, I even had a significant amount of complaints with the first movie. That being said, not only does Captain America: The Winter Soldier improve every issue I had with the first, but the sequel has done the impossible… It has converted me into a Captain America fan.
If you don’t know the story from the actual comic, also titled The Winter Soldier, then a brief heads up that Minor Spoilers may follow. Not to worry though, I’ll give a heads up when they’re coming.
So, in the film which stars Chris Evans in the returning role of Steve Rogers aka Captain America, the character has finally made himself a part of modern day society and culture. He is now taking morning jogs, where he meets another soldier named Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who later becomes Falcon… Hell yeah! Pretty much we get the idea that good old Cap is adjusting well with people of the new world. He has an apartment, a life, and still performs missions for the SHIELD organization.
We get a true sense of this right from the beginning when the team is sent on a ship to rescue hostages. At this point, the film immediately outperforms the first entry. One of my biggest issues with The First Avenger is we never got a real display of a Captain America fight, and if we did, the editing would montage the sequence to hell. In the sequel, Captain America is tough, hard boiled, and redefining the phrase, “America… F*%k yeah!” The minute he lands on the ship, the action places Cap in some of the best hand-to-hand combat scenarios I’ve seen from Marvel yet.
As expected, Cap and his crew save the day but during the mission, he begins to realize there is a different reason why they are on the ship besides the hostages. Black Widow is more concerned with retrieving data from the ship rather than carrying out the mission at hand– which involves saving SHIELD agents. Once the team returns home, Steve Rogers confronts Nick Fury for answers. As it seems, Steve Rogers suspicions are justified when Fury explains to him that he did tell Widow to retrieve that data but doesn’t explain what for. Soon after, things go haywire as an attack is placed on SHIELD to get the data Fury stole.
Marvel had no intention on making this your average outing. The tone is a major shift change from a studio that tends to make every project somewhat silly in unnecessary places. Here we have a mature film that brings a suspense thriller for Marvel. Major characters can potentially die at every turn and the stakes get higher by the second. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a “fun” movie with some great humor, but The Winter Soldier is the most serious film these guys have made to date.
Other ways this Captain America sequel improves upon the first entry is huge actors, as well as characters don’t feel wasted. Here comes the Minor spoiler…. You’ve been warned… In the first film, I remember a friend explaining how frustrated he was over the death of Bucky Barnes, and how it felt like the death was too quick for Captain’s story arc. If that was a pet peeve of yours from the first, all that is completely rectified. Sebastian Stan’s return as Bucky Barnes “The Winter Soldier” is intense and chilling throughout.
Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have created a character that I believe to be equally as memorable as Loki in his own way. Also, no actor feels thrown in just because of their name. Robert Redford is given much more breathing room to play than the likes of Tommy Lee Jones, who I felt was underused from the first movie. It’s not everyday we get such a legendary actor chewing up the chance to participate in a comic book film, and Redford appears to be having lots of fun doing so.
Fans will have a blast finding all the Easter eggs in this, and there is tons. This includes characters within Marvel, and Easter eggs that have nothing to do with Marvel at all. I missed a few, but it was fun talking about the ones each other noticed after the screening.
It’s rare to see such a fantastic blockbuster strike so early, but it has happened. The Summer season has kicked off the first week of April with a film that changes the whole dynamic for Marvel studios. Not since Iron Man has a standalone film by Marvel been treated with such care. I did have a small nitpick with a distracting section of product placement in this movie, but not enough for it to matter. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a great comic book movie that ranks among the greatest from Marvel. I never thought I’d say it but I am now a Captain America fan.
Oh and in case you’ve been living under a rock, stay after the credits.