I really hate when someone reviews a movie, promises not to spoil anything and then proceeds to recap the entire plot of the movie. I’m not going to do that. If you’re reading this then you probably want to see, or have already seen CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. You know who the characters are, you’ve seen the trailers and don’t need me to tell you what the movie is about. What you do need to know is this movie is great.
I am an unabashed fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I didn’t grow up as a Marvel Comics fan, but they’ve made a convert out of me with the 9 films they’ve made thus far in the MCU. I was in the theater in 2008 when the first IRON MAN came out and I’ve been at every film in series ever since. As someone who loves sequels, multiple installments and epic sagas, the Marvel films have a particular appeal for me. At the same time, the transition of the MCU into Phase 2 has been a strange one for me. Like everyone else my mind was blown after THE AVENGERS in 2012, and after such a successful team up, I was kind of disappointed the characters were going solo again.
After I walked out of IRON MAN 3, I felt like we were back at the starting line again. The film itself was great, but I knew it was going to be a long road until the next Avengers. I enjoyed THOR: THE DARK WORLD quite a bit but to me it felt more like a stopover on the way to the real mccoy: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Maybe it’s because this film has a greater connection to the world of the Avengers, featuring quite a few characters from that film. Whereas IM3 felt like the starting line, the Winter Soldier is the last lap before the finish line. There’s more to chew on here in terms of the overall story the MCU is trying to tell. Some prefer the solo films to be entirely solo, with no connective tissue to the greater universe. I like to have that element to the story too, but to see Nick Fury, Black Widow, and Maria Hill hanging out alongside Cap brings a larger scope to the picture. Seeing a few Helicarriers in the sky doesn’t hurt either.
New characters like the Falcon and Alexander Pierce are well acted and get a lot of screen time, as do some unexpected (but familiar) characters. I vote for the Falcon to join the Avengers too, he’s badass. The film definitely has an Avengers kind of feel. And if you are like me and were underwhelmed by IM3 and Thor 2′s lack of connection to the overall universe, this movie should scratch that itch. The film also has a strong connection to the AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D TV show, and I love seeing the television and movie branches of the MCU inter-mingling.
The action in this film is incredible. It’s visceral and up close, you can hear the bones snap and literally see the sweat on people’s brows. This film also probably has the largest body count of any Marvel movie. The Avengers may have had more destruction, but this one is way more personal. The Winter Soldier as a character is brutal and unforgiving. However, I was surprised that he wasn’t in the movie more and it would have been cool to see some more interaction/dialogue between him and Steve Rogers. We can only assume we’ll get more of this story in Captain America 3 (currently scheduled for May 6, 2016).
Overall directors Joe and Anthony Russo have made a classic Marvel film and the best of Phase 2 so far. We’ll see what GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY brings us in August as we make our way through the final lap of Phase 2. Make sure you stick around for the TWO post-credit scenes. One helps to set up the AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON – the other points more towards Cap 3.