Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the eighth film in the Marvel Cinematic universe and the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger. Chris Evan returns as Steve Rodgers/Captain America, a super solider who after fighting Nazis in WWII was frozen for 70s years. The first was a throwback to the older war films like The Rocketeer. This entry was more of actually spy action film like Spy Game where the plot unfolds over the course of the film.
The opening scene with Rodgers doing laps around the National Mall allows to subtly show he’s much more fit than the average man and introduces us and him to Sam Wilson, a pararescue veteran, who works for the Department of Veterans Affairs. They share a bond over how it was to live in the field vs back home and that ties into a later scene at Wilson’s work at the VA working with a support group for returning Veterans.
One major theme of this movie is liberty vs security. On one side is Rodgers literally Captain America, the pinnacle of idealism and the other side of the coin is Nick Fury, director of SHIELD, a realist, who “takes the world as it is not as he wants it to be”. Rogers only works with SHIELD because Agent Carter, his love interest from the first film, was one of the founding members. He’s used to being a soldier. Belonging to an army where everyone is moving toward the same goal. He’s not keen on the spy world where “secrets have secrets.” and lines are blurred and things aren’t black and white. This is the other major theme throughout the film.
Scarlett Johanson returns as Natasha Romanoff AKA the Black Widow. She’s given much much more screen time and character development than previous appearances. Natasha and Rodgers have playful banter. She makes quips about his actual age he a pokes at her for most of her life being a lie since she’s a spy. I really liked that there was no forced romance. In fact there’s a running joke that she’s always trying to hook him up with other women in his life and questioning how long it’s been since he’s kissed a woman.
A big improvement with this installment is the fight choreography. There’s not as much as what most would want but when they occur they have real impact Captain America can take down regular men with ease So this time they throw multiple people at him. The other star of the film; the Winter Soldier is a presence from the first moment he appears on screen. He’s the terminator. From their first encounter he shows that he stands toe to toe with Captain America.
A brutal attack on Fury leaves Rogers and Romanoff on their own unable to trust anyone. They use cryptic clues from Fury to track down who’s behind the attack on SHIELD and it’s beautiful fan service. This led to revelations to important deaths in the past and a “magical” name drop by one of the villains. Turning to Wilson the only outsider who may be able to help and his “flight suit” they take on the threat. The final battle showed off the Falcon expertly. I can’t wait until Tony Stark get his hands on it and upgrades its abilities.
The ending leaves all who are left scattered and questioning everything they know. It was a perfect midpoint for what is going to be a great trilogy and left a very lasting impact for the entire Marvel cinematic universe.