In one movie, Captain America became my favorite Avenger. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the Marvel movie I’ve been waiting for. It was a no-nonsense film that brought all the action without being too heavy-handed. The villain was threatening, the hero was convincingly cool, the support characters weren’t stereotypical throwaway characters and the plot made sense. Captain America’s second film successfully built upon his origin story in the first film as well as the Avengers universe. Dare I say, that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is even better than The Avengers movie. *Spoiler Warning*
The Avengers was grander in scale with the action, destruction and overall “coolness” but Captain America’s second solo film did a better job plot-wise. Compared to Thor 2, Iron Man 2 & 3, Cap 2 was a serious affair, that could potentially shake up the Marvel universe. My problems with Thor 2 and the Iron Man sequels weren’t present in Cap 2. The Thor movies were bogged down with an unnecessary romance between a human and a God, and an overuse of humor that hurt the seriousness of the film. The romance of the Iron Man movies are fine, but the sequels were also bogged down by the humor and a lack of a decent villain. Captain America: The Winter Soldier avoided an unnecessary romance, had a perfect villain and didn’t overuse humor. Captain America 2 did flirt with having a romantic story-line, but avoided that path entirely, making it a more focused movie. Instead of having that romantic plot line in there, they used other means to humanize our hero, Steve Rodgers. Black Widow would often suggest a few female suitors for Cap to date, and he did end up asking someone out for coffee, but it didn’t go further than that. Instead, they showed how Captain America still longed for his world of the past, and his former love, Peggy Carter, who was now an old woman. With this, Captain America was sold as a super-hero with human traits and problems, just as any good super-hero should have.
Black Widow also provided most of the humor in the film, along with Falcon. However, they did so in a way that didn’t hurt the seriousness of the movie. It was more subtle humor and they didn’t make too many jokes when things got serious. It is hard to take the Thor movies too seriously because jokes are seemingly being made at a rapid rate. If Thor doesn’t see the opposition as a threat, why should I? Humor works when humor is needed; not when it is forced in. A lot of funny moments were in the Avengers, but it worked perfectly because it seemed natural. Guardians of The Galaxy looks absolutely amazing, because it has established that it wants to be funny. Thor didn’t establish that, nor should it have tried that. A God dating a random human when he has been fighting next to a beautiful Goddess for years doesn’t seem natural, nor does the human characters joking around with, or about Thor. Getting back to the movie at hand, Captain America 2 makes all of the right decisions when it comes to plot, romance, humor and the villain.
Captain America almost takes a backseat to the witty Black Widow and the awesome Falcon. Going into the movie, I didn’t really buy Black Window hanging around Thor, Hulk and the other Avengers. I thought she was useless on the battlefield compared to them, but she completely sold me in this movie. Black Window is almost as skilled as Captain America. She is smart and smooth, making her a spy I’d want on my team. She also blends well with Captain America on-screen. Every conversation Black Widow and Cap had on-screen was perfectly executed, thanks to Black Widow. She added an element I didn’t expect to come into play in this movie; a sparky, witty female lead to help sell both Black Widow and Captain America. Falcon also brought a lot to the table as he was the likable sidekick to Captain America. Yeah, Black Widow was more of a sidekick by going on more missions with Cap than Falcon, but Falcon certainly held his own in this movie. Honestly, there wasn’t enough of him being the awesome pilot that he was, but hopefully he’ll have a bigger role next time we see him.
When I heard that the second Captain America movie would have The Winter Soldier as the main villain, I said to myself that this would be the first villain in this universe to pose a real threat. No disrespect to Loki, but he is too witty to pose a dominating force over any superhero. Loki is a good villain, but The Winter Soldier is a solid opposing force never seen before in the Marvel universe. What impressed me so much about him was the fact that he wasn’t given a back-story until the second half of the film. The Winter Soldier just showed up and started blowing sh*t up. It was unexpected when he made his first appearance to go after Nick Fury, and it worked perfectly. The Winter Soldier barely spoke, which complemented his no-nonsense approach in hopes to complete his mission. In every scene he was in, I was happily watching him kick ass, instead of the hero. Watching him absolutely dominate the first encounter with Captain America I thought to myself, how is he going to stop this guy?! Then, he single-handedly grounded Falcon like it was nothing, and I had to stop myself from screaming in the theater because it was too awesome to handle. I can’t stress enough how great the action scenes in this movie are, especially the ones highlighted by the Winter Soldier. I’m glad that we won’t be seeing the last of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier… Maybe we’ll even see him transform into a certain super-hero? 😉
The movie also helped build up the Marvel universe in a sleek way. Instead of throwing high-ball references all over the place like The Amazing Spiderman 2, they subtlety name-dropped Steven Strange and showed QuickSilver and the Scarlet Witch in the post-credits. Marvel is always good at adding in Easter eggs, but that Doctor Strange name drop was the greatest one ever. Anyone could have easily missed it, but when I heard that random scientist say “Strange” I looked around to see how many people caught the reference and was geeking out just like myself. The movie theater I was in was pretty much empty, so I was the only one geeking out over the mention of one of my favorite Marvel characters, but the moment wasn’t lost on other Marvel fans. The post-credit scene was also one of the best, because it showed off a few well-known Marvel characters instead of just teasing one character or setting up another movie. In the short scene we saw Baron Von Strucker, QuickSilver and Scarlet Witch in a Hydra facility. I knew that QuickSilver and Scarlet would be in the second Avengers movie, but I didn’t expect them to be on the opposing side (at least for now). It seems like Hydra is controlling, or even creating their own breed of “miracles” to combat Shield and the Avengers… I can definitely work with that.
It feels like I haven’t talked enough about Captain America in a Captain America movie, so I’ll just say that this movie perfectly captures what a Captain America movie should be. The hand-to-hand combat scenes are marvelous (pun intended), and Steve Rodgers has never been this cool on-screen. The action scenes in the movie might be on a smaller scale compared to The Avengers, but they are damn close in quality. In closing, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier is my favorite solo movie for any of the Avengers. It had a smart plot that wasn’t reliant on super-hero genre troupes, a marvelous villain and supporting heroes, and it showed why Captain America deserves to be the leader of the Avengers.