Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), becomes a fugitive of S.H.I.E.L.D, the very government organization he works for, after Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is suddenly killed by a mysterious assassin known as The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). As Cap works with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and newcomer Falcon (Anthony Mackie) to uncover the truth about Fury’s murder, he learns that not all is as it seems with S.H.I.E.L.D.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is exactly why Marvel is killing it right now. They’ve finally figured out their perfect formula—action-packed film with moments of comedy and dark social commentary (and great back-and-forth quips between the heroes, as seen with Cap and Black Widow and Cap and Falcon). Basically, this movie raised its own bar (“Wait…sequels can be good?” cried Hollywood).
In my opinion, Captain America was the weakest film of Phase I. Its budget wasn’t as extravagant as the other Marvel superhero films, and it had to introduce us to Captain America in a WWII setting. Not to mention, Cap is a patriotic, vanilla do-gooder, so he’s not nearly as cool as Tony Stark’s Iron Man, the smart-mouthed playboy with questionable ethics. That being said, Cap is an interesting character, especially when he’s given room to develop a more rebellious streak due to his inherent goodness. And that’s what Captain America 2 gave us—a mature Cap who has to destroy the very organization he’s been tasked with protecting because they’re unethical.
So what exactly has S.H.I.E.L.D. done that’s so wrong? Just what our government is doing to us now (I see what you did there, Marvel). Project Insight (which is like Minority Report‘s PreCrime) uses DNA scanners and satellites to predict people’s futures so that S.H.I.E.L.D. can take them out before they do anything bad. Sounds an awful lot like the government tapping into our devices, monitoring our Google searches, and analyzing what we say on social media, right?
Here’s the problem though. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by HYDRA (Cut off one head, two more grow back), the former Nazi organization led by Captain America villain Red Skull. And HYDRA wants to use Project Insight to take out a different kind of threat. That is, anyone who’s willing to fight for freedom. And who’s at the center of this? Well, Secretary Alexander Price of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Robert Redford), who hired The Winter Soldier to kill Director Fury, for one. Agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández) is in on it, too. And then there’s former Nazi scientist Dr. Zola (Toby Jones), whose consciousness has been uploaded into a giant computer.
Watching S.H.I.E.L.D. fall apart because of corruption within its walls was honestly the most interesting part of this movie just because it added so many layers to the Marvel Universe, from which the Avengers—and even the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. characters (It’s getting so much better, seriously)—can work with in future films/TV shows. Not to mention, unveiling all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s dirty secrets forces all of the heroes and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to grow beyond the organization into new character arcs, which will get sooooo good.
Now, let’s talk about the things you really want to hear. Of course Director Fury doesn’t die (He’s Samuel L. Jackson, motherf***er). You’d be stupid to think he’s gone when he dies 20 minutes into the movie. Like, seriously, they’d kill Fury when they were able to bring back Coulson? Please. Also, Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) does make an appearance in this film. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her in future films, especially with S.H.I.E.L.D destroyed.
We meet Algerian terrorist Batroc the Leaper (Georges St. Pierre) in the movie’s opening as well. He’s not there for long, but he kicks Cap’s ass for a few minutes in a well-choreographed scene. Also, you get a small glimpse of Brock Rumlow, a former agent who becomes a villain named Crossbones, at the end of the movie, too.
But, obviously, the big talk here is The Winter Soldier, who, as some of you might already know, is the still-living Bucky Barnes (He’s Cap’s best friend who “died” in Captain America, if you can’t remember). He’s kind of an emo badass in this movie, and he has no idea who Cap is because he’s been shocked into a brainwashed state. But do you know what’s more interesting to me? This…
Hello, I’m an Easter Egg! Did you know Chris Evans is signed on for six Marvel films, and Sebastian Stan is signed on for nine? And did you know that Cap eventually gets killed in the comics, and Bucky Barnes replaces him? Hmm, some insight into Marvel’s Phase III, perhaps?
Now, for the real reason you’re reading this review. The Captain America 2 post-credits scenes. LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT THEM SPOILED. The first one is by far the best. It shows the villainous HYDRA regrouping in some creepy underground lair (because villain stuff). And who do they have? None other than Magneto’s twin children (though for legal reasons, they can’t say that), Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who will be played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen in The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. The last scene isn’t nearly as cool. It’s just Bucky Barnes learning who he was before he turned into The Winter Soldier. Meh.
Overall, Captain America: The Winter Soldier expands upon Cap’s story and character, delivering a follow-up to The Avengers that’s as good as (perhaps even better than) Iron Man 3. Chris Evans is so charming as Cap, and he really shines when his character plays off of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow (GIVE HER A MOVIE ALREADY) and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon. Now that S.H.I.E.L.D. is thrown out of whack, it’ll be interesting to see where Marvel takes its superheroes and agents—especially since this movie lays serious groundwork for The Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron (*cough* post-credits scene).
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: A+
For my radio review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier on “Pat & JT in the Morning,” visit this link (starts around the 16:08 mark).