Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Review

Captain America is the best stand-alone Marvel studios movie yet. The film manages to take a superhero who is very generic and boring and find the elements that make him such an appealing and long-lasting part of the superhero genre. I highlighted the aspects I would focus on in my review for the first Captain America, The First Avenger and almost by magic, they are exactly the aspects that the sequel manages to use and deploy successfully.

One of the most interesting aspects of Captain America is the idea that he is a fish-out-of-water. He’s a 1940’s soldier thrown into the 21st century. This was hinted at but quickly breezed over in both the first Captain America and the Avengers movie but I’m pleased to see that it’s included properly in Winter Soldier and used to both comedic and slightly tragic effect.

The second element of Captain America is actually using his worst quality and manipulating it into an interesting angle; his patriotic ideal of right and wrong. Every character, even the superhero himself, needs a flaw. Iron Man is arrogant, Batman is tragically scarred and even Superman suffers from being an “alien” on Earth but Captain America lacks that character defect. Place his morals and idea of righteousness to the test, then he becomes someone people can root for.

Captain America works best when his moral idea of right and wrong is being tested.

This is where the two great aspects mix. Captain America isn’t working for the Army fighting the evil Hitler anymore, he is working for SHIELD, not always knowing who his enemy is or whether he is on the “right” side. This means he is up against the heroes, villains and the system itself and putting Captain America on the run from the system he is working for becomes a master stroke, making the character, and subsequently the movie, much more interesting.

It helps that Captain America seems the dumping ground for support heroes. Winter Soldier is used to develop both Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury and it’s a great addition to the movie. Nick Fury actually gets his own action sequence which becomes one of the best of the movie while Black Widow is given a huge chunk of the story which demonstrates why she is included in The Avengers.

Nick Fury and Black Widow are developed well too

Even the new addition of The Falcon is handled well, not overloading the movie with too many characters or adding a new hero with silly powers. Captain America is much more rooted in “realism” rather than silly, fantastic elements and the movie works much better because of this.

It means we get some amazing set-pieces. It feels much more like a spy movie than a superhero movie. It features a flying man, a soldier that can jump from planes without parachutes and a villain with a bionic arm but as a movie, it shares very little with Thor or even Iron Man, demonstrating the scope and ability of Marvel to keep their properties fresh.

 

The Winter Soldier is a decent villain that actually tests Captain America properly

A hero is only as good as its villain though and that is where, again, Winter Soldier outdoes it’s predecessor. The villain is much more interesting and matches Captain America much more than Red Skull ever did. He has a decent backstory too and an actual motivation other than just being “evil” for evil’s sake. Not to mention that Winter Soldier vs Captain America gives us some much cooler fight sequences, better than anything we saw in First Avenger.

Overall, Captain America is a bold, brave and different to any other Marvel studios superhero movie. It doesn’t rely on super powers but instead on a character driven story with interesting elements and amazing set-pieces. As a whole, the Marvel Universe is changed too, meaning that things are going to get much more interesting for the best franchise around at the moment.

Rating 4.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

Captain America has moved the Marvel movie universe into an exciting new direction
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10 thoughts on “Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Review

  1. Well said! You are right. They tested Cap properly on all levels…morally, physically, etc. and it works. I was impressed with this and the development of the characters. Right when it seemed that the Winter Soldier would disappear from thought momentarily…they would bring him back and keep him from just being a gimmick or a side character. and I appreciated that. A proper introduction to a character who we are expecting to see in several more films since Sebastian Stan signed a deal for about 9 films!

    Great review.

    1. Didn’t realise he would be back in the future, or at least could be back in something other than the third Captain America movie.

      Marvel could be very clever anyway, getting everyone to sign on for many movies so they can pull anyone in at a moments notice… have Falcon helping out Thor!

  2. Now, I agree with you 100% on this! Probably the best Marvel stand alone of them all thus far! Did you read the comic book story arc of the winter soldier? also did you see Days of future past yet?

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