If anyone still has any doubts about whether the likes of Captain America can still hold their own in solo movies in the wake of The Avengers' brilliance, it's time to get rid of them! Not only is Captain America: The Winter Soldier far more than a mere stop-gap between Avengers movies, it also manages to be one of the most satisfying entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. With a range of hugely enjoyable and memorable characters, both old and new, brilliant action scenes, as well as a plot which tackles today's political issues of government surveillance and security, Captain America: The Winter Soldier really is more than your standard blockbuster.
This is the ninth film to be released as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the second solo outing of the titular Captain, but proves without any shadow of a doubt that the franchise still has more than enough life and creativity left in it to keep it going strong for many years yet.
Chris Evans returns as the Captain and does his usual great job but it's the rest of the cast that really shine. Anthony Mackie plays The Falcon in the character's first screen appearance. Mackie brings a lot of charisma to the role and is sure to make The Falcon a new fan favourite. Fingers crossed that we get to see him join the Avengers in the future!
The actor that impressed me the most however was Sebastian Stan in his role as the title villain; The Winter Soldier. Despite having very little dialogue, he remains an intimidating threat to Steve Rogers and co. and is one of the best, most bad-ass villains seen so-far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (he beats Malekith hands down). Reportedly, Sebastian Stan has signed a nine-film deal with Marvel Studios (!) so we will be seeing much more of him soon, thankfully.
Samuel L. Jackson is given more do to in this film than he has had previously in his role as Nick Fury, and Scarlett Johansson is still entertaining to watch as The Black Widow.
Finally, we have Robert Redford as our second villain. He plays Alexander Pierce, a senior leader of SHIELD who may or may not be actually secretly a bit evil (SPOILER: he is!).
The fact that an actor as revered as Robert Redford is in this movie really goes to show just how huge the comic book movies of today are. Especially when you consider that Redford turned down the lead role in Superman (1978) as he thought he was too famous. How times change!
In this movie we see that Steve Rogers has already adjusted to life in the 21st century so we thankfully don't get any tired fish-out-of-water jokes regarding the fact that he's from the 40s. In fact, there is very little humor at all in this film, especially when compared to Thor: the Dark World. A lot of the humor in that film verged on slapstick and I definitely felt like they overdid it a bit, but CA: TWS is pretty much the opposite extreme. Despite this, there are a few (intentionally) humorous moments and the film still has a big sense of fun, mostly due to Antony Mackie's performance as The Falcon.
Plot-wise this may well be the best installment yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Without going into too much detail, it deals with ideas about how much privacy the people of Earth are or should be willing to sacrifice in order for things such as terrorist attacks to be prevented. Cap's not a fan of SHIELD's upcoming plans related to this idea and eventually ends up going rogue when SHIELD is overtaken by a sinister organisation hiding within it's own ranks; HYDRA. On top of this, the mysterious and seemingly unstoppable 'Winter Solider' is out to kill Cap and anyone else who gets in HYDRA's way.
The ideas of national security and privacy are explored a lot in this film but that doesn't mean there isn't any time for some action. This film has it in droves and provides many memorable set pieces.
I don't usually see films in the cinema more than once, but this one I did and both times I came out thinking that this was one of the best Marvel movies to come out for a while now. If you still have the opinion that Captain America is one of the least interesting characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then this movie will change that for sure!
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