Captain America The Winter Soldier review

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Being a big fan of the Marvel superhero movies I made sure to see Captain America 2 in the cinema on the week of its release. Here are my first thoughts.

Short version: I liked it very much.

Now the longer version…

The movie takes place some time after the events of 2012’s The Avengers and the usual reference is made to “New York” and the attempted alien invasion depicted in that movie. Steve Rogers continues to adjust to life decades from his own time and is now working for SHIELD.

After returning from a hostage rescue mission where he did not have all the facts he confronts Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury. Fury reveals to Steve that SHIELD has been arming itself with a powerful new weapon that is intended to destroy future threats before they happen.

As the plot develops it becomes apparent to Steve that there is an enemy within the security apparatus he works for. Nick Fury tells Steve to trust no one which turns out to be excellent advice.

Into the mix is the appearance of the Winter Soldier of the title, a mysterious assassin who has a connection to Steve’s past. Readers of the comics will be well aware of the identity of the Winter Solder but I’ll not say any more on that topic here.

A big part of why I enjoyed this movie as much as I did is the political thriller aspect of the story. Before seeing the movie I had read comments that the makers of the movie were aiming for that kind of feel and this intrigued me, although I did not know how successfully that would actually turn out in the finished product.

Well, they pulled it off. There are many sequences throughout the movie that have a distinctly 1970s political thriller vibe, albeit updated for the 21st century. This was particularly evident in an ambush scene early in the movie where Nick Fury’s SUV is cornered by would-be assassins in the middle of Washington. It’s dressed up with SHIELD gadgetry but it’s pure political/conspiracy thriller material through and through.

The vast majority of the movie takes place in Washington DC and evokes memories of movies like All the Presidents Men. This is of course bolstered by the presence of Robert Redford playing Pierce, a member of the World Security Counsel that oversees SHIELD.

I was very pleased to see Scarlett Johansson return as Natasha Romanov aka the Black Widow, one of my favourite Marvel characters. This time she has a much bigger chunk of screen time. Of all the other Avengers she is the most appropriate character to be in this movie given her espionage and assassin based background that is frequently hinted at.

Indeed this movie tends to avoid using traditional superhero characters at all and even Steve Rogers only dons his Cap costume for two or three sequences.

These standalone Marvel movies do like to introduce new characters from the Marvel pantheon and this one is no different. Joining Steve this time out is Sam Wilson, the Falcon, who in the comics was a frequent partner for Captain America.

Given it is a SHIELD-centric movie is is nice to see Maria Hill returning from The Avengers to lend a hand.

I had assumed that this movie would feel like a sequel to The Avengers given the SHIELD-centric story but there are many satisfying links back to the first Cap movie which I was glad to see. I’ve already hinted at a connection between the Winter Soldier and the first Captain America movie. Additionally there is another returning character whose plot-redefining appearance genuinely surprised me. It made me very glad I had not read too much about what the movie was about.

Overall I enjoyed the movie immensely. I would even go so far to say that it might be my favourite of the nine Marvel movies to date. (Ok, I might reappraise that after watching The Avengers again but right now I am very impressed with Cap 2.)

And now the post-credits part of the review.

As is traditional with these movies there are post-credits scenes for those who stay until the end. This time out I didn’t expect much after the awful scene in the mid-credits of Thor 2 that felt like it belonged to a completely different movie. It just looked like it had been shot quickly and tacked on as an afterthought.

This time out we got something much more satisfying. The second of the additional scenes was admittedly a bit “meh” and didn’t really add anything. But the mid-credits scene was the most intriguing yet, giving us a glimpse of two mysterious “twins” who are sure to appear in a future movie. When I inevitably get the Blu-ray I will be poring over that scene repeatedly for clues.