I have a lot that I want to tell you right now that I just can’t. I don’t want to spoil the movie, and to do a proper review I won’t technically be spoiling anything, but I’ll tell you now that you should just go see this movie. You want to know why? Because it’s great. Fantastic even.
As the film opens Captain America meets Sam Wilson. Both being veterans of war and having difficulty readjusting to civilian life they pretty much immediately become friends. Cap though has decided that the best way to get used to living in the modern world is to throw himself into his work and is called away to attack a S.H.I.E.L.D. Ship which has been seized by mercenaries
He with his S.T.R.I.K.E. team which includes Brock Rumlow and Natasha Romanoff, parachute in (he without a parachute) and liberate the ship but during the mission loses contact with Romanoff. It becomes clear that her mission there is separate from his and The ensuing argument between Captain America and Nick Fury starts to reveal what the Captain has been feeling: There’s something not right at S.H.I.E.L.D.
Shortly after Fury is attacked but manages to give Cap some critical intel and a warning not to trust anyone. Cap is then called to a meeting with Alexander Pierce, a senior official at S.H.I.E.L.D. Because Cap is following Fury’s advice he ends up a fugitive on the run with Romanoff and Wilson, trying to figure out who or what is festering at the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D. while evading his old team and a mysterious assassin (and Cap’s physical equal) known only as The Winter Soldier who are hot on his trail.
Needless to say that the scope of this film is pretty big. It deals with the nature of S.H.I.E.L.D., which in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a huge deal, but also freedom and doing the right thing. Part of the reason I love Captain America is that in addition to being the good guy Steve Rogers is just, well, a good guy. He’s honest and forthright and generally wants to do the right thing, which is why it makes sense that he notices S.H.I.E.L.D.s problems well before anyone else and starts to question who he is working for.
I wont tell you how things go down but I will tell you that by the end of the movie there will have been some pretty major changes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For his part I still think that Chris Evans is pretty much perfectly cast as Rogers. He’s got the good looks and charisma but also really does seem to be that good guy, which makes his chemistry with Scarlett Johanssen’s Black Widow all the more interesting as she does a great job of basically being his opposite. His natural state is honesty and hers deception, he needs to trust her to survive and she refuses to trust in order to survive.
The big deal here though is Evans on-screen chemistry with Anthony Mackie. In the comics Captain America and Falcon are great friends and that becomes immediately apparent in this film as well. The two men have a mutual understanding almost immediately not only because of the camaraderie that soldiers feel but also because Cap needs someone he can talk to and Falcon, working with veterans re-adjusting to civilian life, is that guy. Evans and Mackie are brilliant together on screen, their comic timing is spot on but it’s not a hero-worship thing, it’s their mutual respect which really shines through.
Also great is Sebastian Stan as the titular Winter Soldier. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know what Sebastian Stan playing him means, so when the scene comes up when Cap is reunited with him he does a good job of being dazed, confused, and angry. Further, it’s clear that Stan went through much the same training that Evans must have because the fights scenes are great and it’s a real treat to see Cap have to go up against someone who is his equal.
Samuel L Jackson is, well, Samuel L Jackson and that’s ok. Robert Redford is the biggest new name and he’s great. Emily VanCamp is gorgeous and also doesn’t have a lot to do in this film other than be set up as Caps main love interest in subsequent films.
That’s where this film really gets me though and why I’ll tell you right now that this it the best Marvel film to date. As the ninth entry in the series the end result of the story is that there are some pretty big shake ups in the universe. Not just for Cap, for everyone. The film makes clear many things you’ve been wondering about from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (namely who the Clairvoyant is) but also throws into question how they are going to move forward in a (potential) second season and even how the Avengers will be assembled in next years Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a great example of how a sequel can be better than the original by not repeating the formula but rather by building atop the foundation earlier films laid. It’s fast paced, funny, and smart. It’s a joy to watch, and you should go do that. If I have one question or complaint at all it would maybe be “where the hell is Hawkeye during all this?” (but apparently that’ll be answered in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Oh, and of course you should stay through the credits for the mid credits and end credits scenes.
PS. There is a lot to talk about in this film that I didn’t because it would constitute spoilers. We’ll most likely have that conversation on the next episode of the podcast so keep and eye out for that.