Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

What do you think of when you think of America? Some people think of patriotism, waving proudly their flags and singing about their love of our country. Other thing of broken promises from our government and extremists who make it difficult for those of us who just want to live our lives. Some think of Ronald Reagan, JFK, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, or Abraham Lincoln. Me? I think of a superhero with a vibranium shield and an outfit that shows his love of America for all to see. I think of Captain America.

Of course, I'm not quite at the Coulson level.

Yes, the star-spangled Avenger himself, I can honestly say that I have always loved him without an ounce of irony being involved. Steve Rogers is a pure bad-ass in the comics who never stood by and allowed himself to be manipulated by the government, instead choosing to stand up for the American ideal rather than the country. He honestly believes in truth, justice, and freedom. He has good manners, a winning smile, and the best training a super soldier could ask for. But my love for him has surprised some people as I have atrocious manners, an unnerving smile, and absolutely no training in anything really. But, what can I say? I dig the guy. I like that he's not willing to sacrifice his own core values. I love that he stands up to corruption in the government. And I respect his constant unwillingness to ever give up. So, when I heard there was a Captain America movie coming out I was really stoked. The movie turned out to be amazing too and very true to the spirit of the character.

No, not this movie. Never this movie
After that movie I was eager to see what happened next, which of course was the huge blockbuster The Avengers, and it also didn't disappoint. It displayed him as a strong leader who people respected. When he spoke, you payed attention. But, after that, I wanted more. What's next, Marvel Studios? Surely you have another shield-slinging epic in store for us? Well, it seemed that they did indeed! And they couldn't have picked a better source either, as Ed Brubaker's Winter Solider story arc is truly hard to top. It was full of mystery, action, drama, and character development. When the movie came out I was chomping at the bit to see this next cinematic chapter in Cap's life unfold. Now, it should go without saying that watching this without watching The First Avenger is a big no-no. You need that film and The Avengers, as they both set up important characters and backstory for this film. Without having watched those films it would be really easy to get lost. I also want to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, so I will avoid my usual breakdown of the story. First, let's talk about the characters. I loved the character interaction in the Avengers film, as Joss Whedon is a master at it.

He's also the master of looking like the lovechild of Woody Harrelson & Jeff Bridges.
But I honestly felt like the character interaction in the Winter Soldier film was a lot stronger. These characters all had existing relationships and history, they worked together and it showed in the dialogue between them. Black Widow seemed like Cap's best friend constantly looking out for him and trying to help him get a date. It was really a very natural performance out of ScarJo and I applaud her for it. At no time did she come off as a love interest or that she was dependent on Evans for anything. It was great. She stole scenes like no one's business. But the Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, was the true star of the film when it came to scene stealing. Mackie's performance oozes personality and confidence that plays off of Evans' Cap perfectly. If they don't utilize him more in their future films then they are making a huge mistake.

I make this look good. And I can fly and shoot at the same time.
The villains were well done and not nearly as over the top as you would expect from a superhero film, but that's the interesting thing about this film. It's not really a superhero film. It's a film with costumed heroes, sure, but it's honestly truly a spy film. It's all about uncovering secrets and unraveling a massive conspiracy that threatens everything and everyone. There are not colourful villains shaking their fists, no invading aliens trying to take over New York, and no easy answers regarding the villains' motives. No, this is a complex story that goes much deeper, much like the story it was based on. Sure, there are changes, but they make sense and do not hinder the pacing or feel of the overall story. Speaking of which, the story is so good. Even having read the comics I found myself gasping in awe at the new twists they added. The reveal of the Winter Soldier himself was very well-done and Sebastian Stan did a great job of emoting with his eyes, as they were a big focal point when you're looking at him on-screen. His character is very imposing but you can still read the pain and confusion. When he's strapped down by his masters you feel he is like a dog that has been beaten until it behaves. I am eager to see what else they do with him in the future.

Even if they just decide to put him in Herbal Essences commercials. An assassin has to take care of their hair.
Did I enjoy the film? Fuck yes. It was a thrilling, well-acted, well-written, clever film that made me never want it to end while also simultaneously looking forward to the conclusion. I plan to watch it many times when the Blu-Ray comes out. The only bad thing is now I am stuck waiting for more Captain America on the big screen again. Until then I'll just have to make due, yes?

And remember, don't forget to stay until after the credits. I cannot stress this enough.