Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review
Marvel has been steadily upping their game since The Avengers hit screens, and now that Phase 2 of their master plan is well under way, we’ve been seeing them become bolder in their story-lines and scope. The Avengers had the unenviable task of taking a big group of disparate superheroes and placing them in one universe. Iron Man somehow had to sit comfortably alongside a god-like alien and a super soldier from the 40s. Joss Whedon managed to pull it off and now Marvel has the chance to thread aspects of that wider universe into their standalone films, as well as teasing elements of what we can expect in the Avengers sequel!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is no exception to this rule and might be one of Marvel’s best standalone features yet.
What’s it about? Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is still slowly adjusting to modern day life, but manages to embrace his Captain America persona to work for SHIELD. As his missions go on, he becomes increasingly frustrated with SHIELD, butting heads with Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) over the transparency of operations. But a much bigger problem is looming: a Soviet-trained assassin known only as the Winter Soldier, who might be Cap’s biggest threat yet.
Verdict: Without a doubt, this is one of Marvel’s best standalone films and it takes the story to another level with great action and special effects that are balanced alongside an intriguing central mystery and some great characterisation.
Chris Evans, Samuel L Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson all bring their A-game. Evans is effective as the stalwart Steve Rogers, who might be displaced in time, but whose belief in fighting the good fight hasn’t changed. We get to see more of Nick Fury than before, giving Jackson the chance to really flesh out this character into a complex and conflicted man. Johansson also has the opportunity to put some more flesh on the bones of Natasha Romanoff, which makes for an entertaining and even subtly touching performance. Along with a couple of new characters (Anthony Mackie delivers a stand-out role and the Winter Soldier is a gem), the story is funny, action-packed, plot-driven, and even game-changing enough to raise it far above your everyday blockbuster.
Whether or not hard-core comic book fans will be pleased is down to subjective taste, but cinemagoers will definitely be happy. The special effects, 3D, and action are flawless to look at, and the spectacle never feels forced or unnecessary. Each scene pushes the surprisingly mysterious plot forward. Producer Kevin Feige was quoted saying that Cap 2 was “a 1970s political thriller masquerading as a big superhero movie,” and it certainly pays off. Focussing more on plot over spectacle gives this film an energy – one that not all superhero movies capture – which is close to the spirit of the original stories. Okay, yes, occasionally it may push the suspense of disbelief a little far, but it’s all in good fun. Add in a few Whedon-directed scenes, some huge shifts in the goings on in this universe, and some wider teasers for things to come, and you have a very satisfying film indeed.
Final Words: Brimming with mystery, spectacle, great characterisation, good humour and a sense of threat, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fantastic follow-up to the first film and a superb addition to the Marvel universe. It manages to capture the spirit of the original stories and packs a genuine emotional punch that should leave Marvel fans very satisfied.