Title: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Stars: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackon, etc.
I’ll admit I wasn’t very excited for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The campy b-movie style of Captain America: The First Avenger, and lack of solid villain development didn’t really do it for me, and makes it one of the weakest links in Marvel’s cinematic universe. However, The Winter Soldier redeems it fully and then some, easily becoming the best Marvel film since The Avengers and one of the best in general.
The action, as expected of a Marvel film, is its strongest point. But not for the reason you think. Instead of being a full on superhero film, it plays very much as a sort of political-thriller, with themes of intrigue and espionage, and excellently choreographed shoot outs, fist fights, and car chases reminiscent of films such as The Bourne Identity. The sound effects and editing, namely the solid sounds of punches that feel like they have weight behind them, and a high pitched screech that occurs whenever the titular villain, The Winter Soldier is around, bolster an already great aesthetic.
In terms of character development, everything is much improved from the first film. Newcomers ( including an incredibly likeable Anthony Mackie as The Falcon, and Robert Redford’s villainous Alexander Pierce) all are very well rounded, and given good cause to exist, while a majority of the returners (Evans’ Captain, of course, Johansson’s Black Widow, and Jackson’s Nick Fury), have their character’s arks deepened substantially as the films continue. The Winter Soldier himself (Stan), is a massive improvement over the last Captain America film’s Red Skull (who seemed to exist merely for the sake of having an antagonist), and provides a great amount of menace, believability and power sorely needed in Marvel’s movie villain department.
Though the film starts of a little slow, and takes a little bit of time to really pick up, when it does, it is an absolute blast. From a prolonged climax atop an enormous aircraft, and the ever-humorous musings between characters, The Winter Solider had me hooked. And with the reveals of several new characters in a mid-credit sequence, and fan-pleasing hints at the future of Marvel’s cinematic universe within the film, The Winter Soldier provides an incredibly bright and exciting look at what’s to come. If they can maintain this kind of standard, or even bring it to new heights, who knows what could happen next.