Steve Rogers: For as long as I can remember I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I’m not quite sure what that is anymore. And I thought I could throw myself back in and follow orders, serve. It’s just not the same.
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
There were a fair couple of Marvel sequels to solo movies before this one but none of them hit the same level of enjoyment of the original movie. However this was the sequel that managed to change that. The first Captain America was good and did a lot more with its idea than anyone would have thought and the sequel dove even further with its characters, drama, and all the twists and turns.
The story involves Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) living in Washington D.C. as he struggles to adjust to modern-day society. When it is revealed Shield has been infiltrated by the villainous organization known as Hydra and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is presumed killed, Captain America is told not to trust anyone and goes rogue. With the help of Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and a new ally in Sam Wilson aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie), they attempt to outrun Shield and uncover a conspiracy involving Hydra’s newest weapon known as the Winter Soldier.
The way this movie delivers its story and the things it talks about is what makes it interesting. It derives humor from the fact that there are new things that Cap doesn’t recognize but also some heartfelt emotion from the fact that many of the people he knew are now gone. The opening where Steve visits his now elderly former love interest Peggy Carter is an extreme tearjerker given how tough and enjoyable of a character she was not only in the first movie but also in her own show and is beginning to mentally and physically fading away. There are a lot of major revelations made through the story and its pacing gives it a great deal of weight and the movie and it uses all of this to develop the main character. Even though it was well known to the audience who the Winter Soldier was it wasn’t so much the reveal as much as it was Cap’s reaction.
Evans’ performance shines once again as Captain America being a loner in a foreign time period and is faced with ethical challenges in his quest to do right. The movie shows how Steve’s moral compass is challenged with those who are with or against him or the fact that he may not be doing good or may continue to not be good. This is furthered particularly when he finds out who the Winter Soldier is. It gives an interesting real world commentary into things like freedom and security. The greatest aspect of Steve is that he’s a team player, which allows for the side characters to shine as well, particularly with Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson.
Much like, the Avengers, this movie gave some good time for Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow. Natasha is very much Steve’s partner and equal and the moments they have together very much work to strengthening the friendship between the two rather than force a romance given that they are both trying to find their place in the world. This is one of the few solo Marvel movies where it’s very much free of romance.
The Russo brothers do amazing in bringing the action with some great practical effects and stunt work (aside from the final battle). Some of the standouts include Captain America’s fight in an elevator and Nick Fury being chased in his SUV.
The antagonists are something that I have very mixed thoughts about. On the one hand the Winter Soldier really doesn’t have any personality to him but he’s made out to be this powerful unstoppable force to be reckoned with and having no trace of individuality. This works not only from a physical perspective but also in making his character an enemy unlike any other Captain America has faced. Robert Redford was good as Alexander Pierce giving a sinister charm having no real powers or physical strength but a high powered and immoral man of Hydra in an organization trying to do good.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier took aspects that were standard and made them intriguing and played in major ways to the main character. It takes the idea of being a boy scout and puts that to the test in major ways. With likable leads, an engaging story, and intense fighting this is a movie that will prove to be everlasting among the MCU greats.