In the interest of full disclosure, I was underwhelmed by “Captain America: The First Avenger.” It’s one of MCU films I’ve revisited the least chiefly because there isn’t a lot of action and it relies a little too much on green screens which gives the settings an antiseptic quality. That said, I was incredibly pleased that the sequel, “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” which quickly became one of my favorite films. It’s not only a superb superhero movie but an intense espionage thriller that’ll have you at the edge of your seat.
Directed by the Russo brothers, Anthony and Joseph, “Captain America: Winter Soldier” is a marvel of superhero action filmmaking. Something as simple as fight choreography can make or break a film and “Captain America: Winter Soldier” boasts some of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen. Cap is a straight-up badass in this movie, the way he uses his athleticism and power, combined with his shield, makes him a formidable and unpredictable fighter, something which was sorely lacking in the first movie. The action scenes are incredibly kinetic and intense which make this movie feel less like a superhero flick and more like a Jason Bourne film.
On the other side of the shield is the titular Winter Soldier played by Sebastian Stan. The Winter Soldier is an interesting character because he is the opposite of Cap and a combatant on his level. He represents everything that Cap doesn’t stand for: he is ruthless, efficient, has no concern for innocent bystanders and has no qualms about accomplishing his mission, no matter the means. The fact that the Winter Soldier is not treated like a person but an object, a terrifying weapon wielded by powerful people, is in stark contrast to Cap’s beliefs that soldiers should know what they are fighting for.
Aside from stellar action scenes, “Captain America: Winter Soldier” boasts a really well-written script. The film tackles some hefty issues like limits on power, the shady nature of modern warfare and the blurring lines between good and evil. Cap is a man out of time, so it would make sense that, when placed in the modern espionage system, he would strongly object to all the cloak and dagger. This is, also, brilliantly subtle character development because it sets up that Cap prefers his ideals instead of being blindly loyal to any one organization or government. The relationship and dialogue between Cap, Falcon and Black Widow makes the movie really fun while providing some heartfelt moments.
I really want to give everything involved in this movie an ample amount of credit. Not only did they take the whole idea of Captain America and modernize him, but they delved to the core of his character in such a compelling way. “Captain America: Winter Soldier” tells a riveting story about loyalty to one’s nation and the ideals it is founded upon. How that loyalty doesn’t always mean you should fall in line if those in power are taking questionable actions.
The film develops all of the characters included while also setting up the broader universe and future schisms. This is everything that a sequel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe should accomplish and it does so with aplomb.