Marvel’s “The Avengers” set the bar really high for movies set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Iron Man 3″ answered with the first hints of a new direction and “Thor: The Dark World” showed that humans could fight along side the super heroes and survive. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” takes that world and twists everything around setting the stage for “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself and the plot.
As the story begins, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, is settling into his new role in the modern world, but finding the fit a bit uncomfortable. When he sees how S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to respond to the troubles of the modern world, Rogers confronts Nick Fury. Fury has his own concerns, which brings him to the attention of The Winter Soldier, and that’s when the excitement really begins.
Meanwhile, Rogers and Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, discover the loose threads of a villainous plot and pull on them to see what is exposed. What they discover threatens to change the world forever.
I wish I could be more specific about certain plot elements, but I don’t want to give too much away. I’m not a big Marvel comics fan, so I can’t really compare the film version to the stories in the comics, but for me, it delivered everything I want in a super hero film. Action, intrique, actual peril, subtext, and heart. All those ingredients are there. Let cook for 2 hours and 10 minutes and enjoy.
If you watch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, you’ve already been exposed to some of the ideas in this movie and will get a kick out of seeing a few characters make the cross-over. But knowledge of that show it’s not required to fully enjoy the film.
Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson have had time to get comfortable in their roles and were able to successfully add new dimensions to characters we’re familiar with. Anthony Mackie had a great introduction as Falcon and Emily VanCamp was good, even a bit under-utilized, as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent 13. Robert Redford’s presence in any film adds a certain depth of character and he certainly brought it this time as well. Redford was so good in those 1970s era political thrillers and you get definite echoes of that in The Winter Soldier.
If I have any complaint, it’s about the central-casting feel to some of the bad guy’s henchmen. Additionally, one scene felt like it was lifted direction from Star Wars: A New Hope, which is sadly a bit campy now.
I felt the visit to the Smithsonian to spoonfeed the audience backstory was a bit too obvious, but better than pure exposition. Plus it allowed for a few needed humorous moments and a great callback later in the film. That’s not to say the movie isn’t funny. There’s a joke for nearly every punch thrown in the film.
Finally, when you go and see the film, you need to stick around for not one, but two post credits sequences. One right after the main credits and the other at the very end.
From the script, to the action set pieces, and the special effects (barring one jarring CGI scene early in the film) “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” sets a new standard for Marvel films and becomes my favorite Marvel movie since Disney bought the brand.
Note: There will be three separate reviews of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” on The Disney Blog. Michelle has added her thoughts and Chris will be post his soon.