NOTE: If you haven’t seen it, remember, in true Marvel fashion, stick around for the credits. There are two additional scenes during the credits. I missed the second one, so I’ll have to catch it the next time.
Despite falling into more of a traditional action movie towards the end, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has a solid story that also displays a great deal of depth for its main characters and makes the movie the strongest Marvel Studios movie to date.
You might be turned off by the title, thinking that this is a “super-hero” movie, and, well, it is. Instead, consider Captain America: The Winter Soldier as more of a political thriller whose main characters happen to be super-heroes.
The opening 20 minutes feel more like something out of James Bond than a big super-hero spectacle. Then you realize, oh, wait. SHIELD is supposed to be a spy agency.
I’m not a huge fan of Captain America, and for the most part, nothing in the first movie nor the Avengers changed my mind. But, the opening scene really changed my mind.
This movie transforms Captain America/Steve Rogers into a great character. Although Rogers has always had a desire to serve his country, he begins to question Nick Fury and, once he learns of SHIELD’s latest initiative, both SHIELD and his role in this new world. Add this to Rogers still adjusting to living in the 21st century, and there’s a lot of dimension to this soldier.
Something else that I don’t remember seeing in the first film that I thought was a great touch was that, like the latest Batman movies, Cap now seems to have his own fighting style and using his shield is a big part of that style. It’s not that Cap needs the shield to fight, but we now see him wield the shield with the same expertise a master samurai would wield his katana.
This time around, Cap is caught in the middle of a much bigger story and he quickly learns not to trust anyone at SHIELD, well, except Black Widow. The two of them begin digging into a mystery involving Nick Fury and someone called The Winter Soldier, which SHIELD treating Cap and Widow as fugitives. The fugitive angle also forces both characters to spend most of the movie out of costume, which helps make them closer to being “normal” people.
There’s a great chemistry between Cap and Black Widow in this movie, and despite a quick kissing scene, there’s no attempt to force Widow into a love interest. In fact, part of the banter they have is Widow trying to play matchmaker for Cap.
Black Widow has a lot more to do in the movie as well. We learn a great deal more about her character, and being the spy who “gets the job done” plays well against Cap’s sense of justice.
Sam Wilson, a former soldier and veteran’s counselor that Cap meets early in the movie also gets sucked into the story when Cap and Widow need a place to hide. He also gives Cap a glimpse into life outside of being a soldier as well as someone else whose lost a partner in war. We eventually learn that he flew a very, um, unique craft during the war.
There are a couple of big reveals about the villains of the movie before the action ratchets up that I won’t go into.
Once the action gets going, it almost becomes a completely different film where the explosions are big and the snappy one-liners kick in. The movie quickly recovers though, and there are some big ramifications to the story after the fireworks die down.
Overall, though, the movie works as a great action-thriller with touches of super-hero stuff thrown into the mix. It’s probably the most complex story I’ve seen in any of the Marvel movies, and that’s a good thing.