Since Marvel’s The Avengers came out in May 2012, I’ve been left wondering if any Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film could live up to that epic. Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World were disappointing with their less than exciting villains and storylines that didn’t really dig deep into what was the fallout of the alien attack on New York. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has been erratic – sometimes reminding me what I love about the MCU and other times tempting me to abandon it, but I stay because Coulson Lives. Finally though with The Winter Soldier do we have an enemy worth getting excited because as Loki has proven, sometimes the most thrilling villains are the people you know.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier begins with Captain Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) living in present day Washington, D.C., still learning about the decades he missed while frozen and still not quite seeing eye to eye with S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). When things become amiss at S.H.I.E.L.D., Steve finds himself on the run with The Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as they attempt to discover what’s the dangerous secret that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been harboring.
As I left the theater I realized this is one of those films where you can’t say much about it without giving something away and that’s part of what makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier the best Marvel film since The Avengers. With twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat for more than two hours, it was refreshing to be thrilled by a superhero movie again!
Chris Evans continues to be perfect as Captain America. He has the good looks, the body, the charm, the loyalty, and often the innocence of this character down perfectly. Steve Rogers is a soldier and a fighter, but he also a really good guy and there’s never a moment when you aren’t wanting “good” to triumph. Scarlett Johansson’s return to The Black Widow with the same vivaciousness and allure that makes you wonder what is real and what isn’t with her. She’s a great partner for the Captain and I wouldn’t mind seeing them teamed up again in the future.
Also returning are the previously mentioned Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders as Marie Hill. Maximiliano Hernandez, who has played a minor role as Agent Jasper Sitwell going back to Thor, has recently appeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. including this past Tuesday’s episode. When we last saw him he left Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) for an assignment noting that he “had a boat to catch.” You’ll see what boat he ended up on within the first ten minutes of the film.
There are several new characters, including Anthony Mackie as former paratrooper turned counselor Sam Wilson, a.k.a. The Falcon, Robert Redford as S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce, Revenge’s Emily VanCamp as Agent 13, and The Winter Soldier. All feel perfect for their roles and are great additions to the MCU.
After Man of Steel destroyed New York again Metropolis and then Thor: The Dark World wreaked havoc on a section of London, I was beginning to think super hero films were stuck on recycling the same idea. Yes, there are some things about The Winter Soldier that are comic movie formulaic, like monologuing, but the action sequences felt fresh and the story kept surprising me, with The Winter Soldier’s identity being the least of the surprises.
Thanks to The Winter Soldier my love for the MCU is reinvigorated and just as I couldn’t wait for the next films after The Avengers to see the fallout from New York, I now can’t wait to see next week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to see what happens after The Winter Soldier. If you watch the show or not, you don’t want to miss the film.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens nationwide today, April 4, kicking off the summer movie season rather early. As with all Marvel films, stay all the way to the end of the credits.