wintersoldier8The first Captain America left audiences wanting by not telling a complete story and only serving as setup for the Avengers. The Winter Soldier had a lot to prove. Expectations for this were high. Aside from taking the name of one of the most popular Cap stories, this promised to move the universe forward in incredible ways while introducing new characters and fleshing out others. Marvel has succeed on all fronts, not only producing one of the best Cap movies, but one of the best Marvel movies to date. SPOILERS AHEAD!

la_ca_0102_Captain_AmericaThere is a lot happening in this movie and, surprisingly, it all works. We’ve learned from failures like Batman & Robin and Spider-Man 3 that less is more. The number of characters and villains jammed into this film subverts expectations while deftly keeping all the characters in play. Nearly a dozen Marvel mainstays make an appearance, either playing pivotal roles in the current conflict or being set up for future use. This is just as much a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie as it is a Captain America one.

wintersoldier3Each performance is solid, embodying the characters as they’ve been represented in the comics. Anthony Mackie is a great addition as Sam Wilson (Falcon) while Scarlett Johansson has her best turn yet as Black Widow. She shows off every aspect of the character — a smart, sexy woman who is always outnumbered but never outgunned. Marvel has said that she’s given enough setup in this movie to possibly have her own feature. That is readily apparent. Sam Jackson is his typical self as Nick Fury. The turns toward the end (which, duh) are fun, but there’s one particular moment at the end that screams Nick Fury. Well done, all around. Chris Evans IS Steve Rogers. What else needs to be said at this point?

wintersoldier5There was some apprehension when Marvel cast UFC fighter George St. Pierre as Batroc the Leaper. Fighters/wrestlers typically can’t act, and Batroc has always been a joke in the comics. Surprisingly, GSP gives a solid — though mostly silent — performance, and Batroc looks credible. Hearing Steve’s neighbor introduce herself as Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) was exciting (she’s Sharon Carter, Peggy Carter’s niece). She’s given little to do, but that’s not a detraction. Her introduction here will surely pay off in later films. The best addition, aside from the surprise villain cameo (he’ll be back), was Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo). In the comics, Rumlow is the mercenary known as Crossbones, the man who killed Cap after Civil War. Robert Redford is a smart and fantastic addition. Marvel is smartly casting well-known actors in smaller, but pivotal roles. Redford’s performance has me excited for other such roles in the future. While I didn’t care for Sebastian Stan as Bucky in the first Cap, he perfectly embodies the Winter Soldier.

wintersoldier7Seeing S.H.I.E.L.D. fall is disheartening, but necessary. Sitwell’s betrayal in particular strikes a chord. I enjoyed his character, but I suppose this explains his absence from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show. Speaking of which, what does this mean for the show? Producers have said it will continue with the group acting as an independent cell, but that would explain why they’ve been spinning their gears all season.

wintersoldier4Far and away the shining points of the film are the action sequences, which are easy to follow and smartly choreographed. Advertisers have barraged the public with clips highlighting these, and rightfully so. They only get better. My one complaint is the green screen work, most of which stuck out sorely. One example is when Cap leaves Pierce’s office waiting for the elevator. It was one poor moment amidst the other high points.

wintersoldier2I do have a few questions. With this being such a S.H.I.E.L.D.-oriented story, there are some odd omissions. Where is Hawkeye? Not a mention? Hopefully something will be said in Avengers 2, like he quit beforehand. While the other films have done well without Clark Gregg’s Coulson, his presence is sorely missed here. Also, with such dire straights, why doesn’t Cap call Tony? I understand these reasons logistically, but still, the unreasonable fanboy in me wants more, like a Doctor Strange movie! (You know it’s coming).

Captain America: The Winter Soldier successfully tells a complete story while creating ramifications for the entire Marvel movie line. This has made me more excited for the future of Marvel. Also, how about that end tag?

What was your favorite inclusion? Did you miss Hawkeye or Coulson? Comment below!

Tony writes for his own site,, about comics, video games, movies, TV and more, six days a week. You can follow his updates on Facebook or Twitter. Drop by and tell ’em hi.

I want to pause on the names the computer was targeting when the disc is released.