‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review

Published 5 months ago by , Updated August 15th, 2014 at 9:10 pm,

Captain America The Winter Soldier Poster Shield Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is still adjusting to life in the 21st Century, packing his days with workout routines and special ops missions, too busy to date or catch-up on a growing list of experiences that he missed while frozen in Arctic ice. As Captain America, Rogers is at the top of his world-saving game; yet, despite his adventures, the First Avenger has become disillusioned with his work at S.H.I.E.L.D. Increased secrecy and a new global initiative – Project Insight, which prioritizes heavy-handed  law enforcement over personal freedoms – have left Rogers questioning what (and who) he’s even fighting for in a post-Battle of New York world.

However, after S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is attacked by heavily-armed and well-coordinated mercenaries led by the fabled Winter Soldier, Rogers must set aside his apprehensions to investigate a new threat against humanity. Joined by fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and former para infantry soldier Sam Wilson, aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Rogers disappears off the grid and begins digging into long-kept S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets. If Captain America hopes to ensure a future for freedom, he must first overcome a collision course with his own complicated past.

Captain America 2 Chris Evans Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

The Russo Brothers take over for First Avenger director Joe Johnston in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, successfully building from the super-soldier origin story and subsequent Avengers team-up to create an entertaining, as well as action-packed, spy drama – one that just so happens to be based on a comic book. As a result, The Winter Soldier is one of the most accessible and high-quality Marvel movies yet. There are countless Easter eggs (and two post-credit scenes) for fans, but at its heart, the Captain America sequel tells a captivating political thriller story with clever ties to actual U.S. history and the larger Marvel universe. Both die-hard comic readers and casual filmgoers should enjoy the film, and even though viewers might not agree on which Marvel Studios movie is their favorite, there’s no question that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is among the best superhero adaptations to hit the big screen.

Certain Marvel solo movies struggle to tie into the studio’s shared universe storyline – especially following The Avengers - but the Russo Brothers strike a sharp balance between corralling tie-in threads and supporting the core Winter Soldier plot. Additionally, the film includes timely social commentary for the ongoing debate over national security and personal freedom – all wrapped within a gripping 1970s-esque espionage flick.

Captain America 2 Sebastian Stan Winter Soldier Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier in ‘Captain America 2′

Even without superhero headliners, the script serves-up a captivating political tale, loaded with poignant human drama, explosive set pieces, and savvy twists. In spite of solid box office sales, viewers have criticized Marvel Studios for playing it safe with their cross-movie narratives, but the latest Captain America delivers a bold step forward, dramatically restructuring the landscape of the TV/movie universe.

Following the exuberant personality of Tony Stark and raw power of Thor, a new Steve Rogers movie could have easily been an afterthought. Nevertheless, The Winter Soldier takes a fascinating look at Captain America, trading “fish out of water” gags for an intimate portrayal of the values (and doubts) held by a man who has accepted a lifelong mission of protecting the innocent.

Evans, who has now portrayed Rogers in three full length feature films, is finally at home in the role – showcasing a quick-witted and extremely capable warrior. By presenting a profound and outright exciting depiction, the Russo’s help to reinforce what many comic book fans already knew: that Captain America is more than an honorable, shield-wielding, super-soldier: he’s one of the smartest and most powerful men on (or off) Earth.

Captain America 2 Scarlet Johansson Black Widow Chris Evans Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Scarlet Johansson returns as Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow)

The sequel also makes good use of its supporting cast – most notably Black Widow, Nick Fury and newcomer Falcon. Black Widow and Nick Fury are already fan-favorite entries in the shared universe, but The Winter Soldier script takes each character to a new level, affording Johansson and Jackson ample screen time to comb new layers in their respective roles, ultimately delivering strong insights, as well as downright rousing moments of heroism. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is a welcome addition to the squad, and the actor enjoys some of the film’s most humorous beats. Still, Falcon isn’t just comic relief – he presents a stimulating juxtaposition to Rogers and quickly earns his spot onscreen.

Similarly, Robert Redford carries veteran charm to his role as Alexander Pierce – a role that is a make or break element of The Winter Soldier plot. Redford’s exchanges with key heroes, especially Fury, are among the film’s best, and Redford develops Pierce into a well-rounded ideologue instead of one-note bureaucrat.

Captain America 2 Robert Redford Alexander Pierce Samuel L Jackson Nick Fury Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

The Winter Soldier, portrayed by Sebastian Stan, is also a standout – a formidable antagonist capable of knocking Rogers and his team on their backs. The villain is the centerpiece in some of the most exhilarating (not to mention intense) action sequences that Marvel has ever put to film – with creative realizations of trademark source material weaponry (especially his mechanical arm). Though, the real success of the character is Stan’s ability to convey emotion through basic expressions – since the Winter Soldier relies on action, rarely dialogue, to communicate his feelings.

Minor hiccups like noticeable green screen disconnect in select settings, are overcome by plenty of eye-popping visuals – as well as grounded (and absolute brutal) fight choreography that is not just thrilling, but also sells the core cast as lethal operatives. For that reason, 3D and IMAX 3D are recommendable to viewers that want the premium Captain America sequel experience. That said, neither is essential, so frugal filmgoers shouldn’t feel bad about catching the movie in basic 2D.

Captain America 2 Anthony Mackie Falcon Captain America: The Winter Soldier Review

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Where The Avengers sold casual moviegoers and comic book fans alike with an epic superhero team-up event, Captain America: The Winter Soldier should have no problem pleasing both parties by delivering a high-quality spy thriller. The Russo Brothers build a strong sequel on The First Avenger foundation and subsequent shared universe entries, elevating both Captain America’s skills and personal drama to refreshing heights. It’s not the biggest Marvel movie to hit theaters, but with a timely narrative, deeper exploration of fan-favorite characters, a strong cast and unforgettable action set pieces, Captain America: The Winter Soldier makes a compelling case for being one of the studio’s best adventures.

If you’re still on the fence about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, check out the trailer below:

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier runs 136 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, gunplay and action throughout. Now playing in 2D, 3D, and 3D IMAX theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Captain America: The Winter Soldier Spoilers Discussion.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Captain America: The Winter Soldier episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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TAGS: captain america, captain america 2

205 Comments

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  1. So I am surprised that no one else has said this: Civil War.

    That scene with Natasha in front of Congress or whatever it was seemed to be alluding to the Civil War story arc. The fact that they are questioning her about their actions and bringing up possibly arresting her is showing the governments growing distrust of heroes.

    It was just a quick thought that I thought of when watch last night.

    • Yes.. i was thinking about that too.
      Dunno if Civil War is going to be in Avengers 4….i think Josh Whedon will simply stop at Avengers 3 and hand over the reins to someone else for part 4 .

      • I’m no Cap expert but I’ve heard the story of Cap questioning what is his true American duty has been done many times in the past. Civil War was more specifically tied into the Registration Act. Also I hated the ending of Civil War.. turned Cap into such a pansy..

        • While true, one of the main reasons was supers not being held accountable for any damage they may have caused during battles (ex. The Hulk vs. The Thing). The destruction caused by the helicarriers being destroyed was something that was brought up during her deposition so they may be planting the seeds for Civil War. It is still early though but, in my opinion, they are definitely hinting at it.

          This also leads to speculations of Planet Hulk and World War Hulk especially because of that concept art of The Hulkbuster vs. The Hulk.

    • You beat me too it man. I was thinking this completely sets up avengers 3 doing the civil war arc and when Steve is assassinated I’m wondering if they’ll make Bucky into the new Cap or will they end it there and simply reboot it. this movie definitely brought up some interesting questions about the direction they will go.

      • Sebastian Stan has a longer contract with marvel I believe so I think Bucky will take over as cap in the future

  2. My favorite part of the movie by FAR was The Winter Soldier! it is not often I like the villain MORE than the hero but Sebastian Stan is great in his role and I really hope we get to see a lot more of him, Too bad we couldn’t see him in his own Winter Soldier movie… Maybe a prequel to Cap2 showing him on some of his previous missions! Oh Well here’s to HOPING marvel realizes what a rich character they have in The Winter Soldier

  3. What do I need to rewatch before seeing this? I’m guessing Captain America 1, but Avengers too?

    • Those two, and maybe Iron Man 2 if you want a little more of Black Widow and how her character rolls into the Marvle U-Verse.

  4. I have to say the Mid-credit scene WAS AMAZING, and showed the “TWINS” in a perfect way! Quicksilver looks like a beast and the way they show off his speed was awesome. I think he could end up becoming a Fav. of mine very quickly! :)

  5. Reason why Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery is the Mandarin:
    http://www.themonolith.com/wp-content/uploads/Iron-Man-3-Trevor-Slattery.jpg

  6. I could go on and on, and RANT the way the website was created for LOL, but I’m just going to say that is one of Marvels’ best films thus far. I enjoyed it more than Iron Man 3 and Thor 2. Chris Evans is amazing as Cap and his ignorance to 21st Century knowledge just makes it all the more funny when you mention things he just is oblivious too. Black Widow and Nick Fury also stood out in this film, each having their own subplots but my favorite, by far, was Anthony Mackie as The Falcon. I think that character will surprise a lot of people, although I kind of wanted more from him in the last hand to hand battle he had. Overall the film was solid, I was on the edge of my set from beginning. Every action scene just proved how bad ass everyone really is and I would looooove to see more of Winter Soldier. Sebastian said enough without saying anything at all! NO ONE CAN TOUCH MARVEL!

    • I AGREE 100%!!!

    • Just saw it. Mackie was absolutely perfect. Stan did wonders given his limited avenues for expression. Fight choreography was amazing, particularly some of the rapid stuff between Cap and TWS.

  7. I hope we don’t get Noah’ed on this.

    I’m expecting an action film that could be family safe, don’t want to end up with a overly-violent, dark and depressing hodgepodge movie.

    :)

    • Random pilot gets thrown into a turbine. Maybe not take the little ones to this movie.

    • Adhere to the “13″ portion of the “PG-13″ rating if your kids are sensitive to death or you as a parent are sensitive to them seeing death. There is nothing overly bloody, but there is a body count pretty high here.

    • Yeah, Noah kind of surprised people in the “family” veiwing aspect. This movie is a little darker than that other Marvel films. Unless your kids are in their teens, I would hold off taking the kids, IMO

    • Thanks Oneiros and snowgator for the warnings.

      The kids watched IM3 and Avengers in the theater (they liked Avengers more than IM3) and Thor 2 on BluRay… so they should be able to handle Cap 2 if it’s similar (and they are a year older).

      They’re not toddlers, but they aren’t 13 yet either. The boy wants to go, the girl is a bit hesitant (and she’s the older one).

    • Nice… no Noah Experience.

      Kids were okay with it, lots of death but not too much blood.

      No walkouts either.

      I have to agree with many of the members here, this is the best Phase 2 movie and actually better than most of the Phase 1s. This was better than the first Cap, IM3 and maybe IM2. And yes, better than Man of Steel.

      Good pacing, great action, interesting story and it has me wondering what is going to happen on Agents of SHIELD and the rest of the Marvel movies.

      Can’t wait until 2028. :)

  8. I am not a big Cap fan. Growing up, I never bought his comics as I thought he was dull as a character. I found the original “First Avenger” movie entertaining, but a tad uneven. I thought he was not given enough to do in “The Avengers” as he seemed to tack a back seat to Iron Man, the Hulk, and even Black Widow. So, with that backdrop, allow me to say with conviction:

    Best. Marvel. Movie. Yet.

    Period, end of story.

    Not one wasted scene, not one character of place, enough comic fans nods to make you giggle, and action that was seamless and outright exciting. The opening fight scene with Baltric the Leaper as played by UFC fighter GSP was just a blast!! Black Widow rocked, Fury rolled, Stan was amazing as the Winter Soldier when he had to make he most out of every scene using his expressions and not dialogue, Frank Grillo was very good and may go under apprecciated as the heavy grunt villian who will come to be known as Crossbones, the plot made complete sense, and Anthony Mackie stole every scene he was in. Highly recommend it.

    • Im with you. Not a big Cap fan, but best marvel movie ever, no doubt. Grillo and Mackie is amazing!

  9. I’m going to be blunt: I had to pee REALLY badly about 20 or 30 minutes in. This movie WOULD NOT let me relieve myself!

    That said, it totally lived up to the hype of being the best Phase 2 movie thus far!
    If you’ve enjoyed Marvel films up until this point, you probably don’t want to miss this one….

    • ha ha, same for me. I had to go pretty bad. I was holding it until i couldnt take it anymore. The movie was so good i didnt wanna miss anything. i ended up missing Stan Lee’s cameo lol.

  10. BEST MARVEL MOVIE YET!!!!!!! CAPTAIN AMERICA IS THE HEART OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!!!
    Captain America, Falcon, Black Widow and yes the Villain Winter Soldier Kick Some Serious Ass in this Film. This film is so awesome it cannot be contained.

  11. Best Marvel Movie yet.

    I had high hopes for CA:TWS, and the film certainly delivered on all accounts.

    The plot and the storyline are incredible. It’s reminiscent of a good espionage thriller that could stand on it’s own without being part of the MCU.
    It’s quite different from previous MCU movies, in a pretty positive way. It doesn’t have the over-the-top jokes which can get annoying, and the plot doesn’t rely too much on cliched villains and plot devices.

    Captain America is a really interesting character, having to work for a system he doesn’t completely agree with. Steve Rogers’ idealistic naive mind from the 40′s is conflicted. And it’s how he deals with these problems that make the story compelling.

    The action scenes are incredible. They have this blend of reality, which makes them even more spectacular. Every fight scene is beautifully choreographed, and has amazing stuntwork never seen before. The CGI is not too heavy, like in Thor 2 or the Avengers.

    But it’s not just punches and car explosions.
    There are some really heartwarming scenes. Steve meeting Peggy, Bucky’s reveal, and flashback scenes to the 40′s are full of raw emotion and melancholy.

    The characters themselves are compelling. Capt. serves for a wonderful protagonist, with partners Natasha and Sam doing really good work. Sam also serves as a faithful friend to Steve, who’s a soldier just like him.
    We get more insight of Fury, and see what drives him. It’s a nice change from the one-dimensional badass commander throwing orders.
    Pierce has an aura of authority, and Rumlow is pretty cool.

    But the best is Bucky. Every time he appeared onscreen he had this air of danger and power. The way his skills matched Steve was terrifying. Magnificent portrayal.

    The acting is pretty good, the highlights being Chris Evans, Robert Redford and Sebastian Stan. But the supporting cast is pretty stellar as well.

    The directing and storytelling is well done. There isn’t a boring moment, and the story doesn’t feel too drawn out or too crammed. It has a good pace.

    Overall, this was not only a fun ride, but one that inspired much emotion missing in the MCU. And it’s MCU’s finest film to date.

    4.5 / 5

  12. What do you mean by “not the biggest hit”?

    Is the best Marvel story yet! it has everything fans or movie goers want in a film.

    I would only say this: Warner Brothers, “To your left”, Sony, “To your left”, Fox’s F4 Crap, “To your left”.

    • Haha!
      Well said Hector, well said.

    • @Hector:

      Made my son and I laugh hard. He wants to send you a thank-you card….

  13. Spectacular film!!! Cap 2: TWS is easily my second favorite film behind The Avengers in the Marvel Universe. After the disappointing Iron Man 3 and the decent Thor 2, Cap 2 knocks it out of the park with a great balanced story of action, Marvel humor that folks like me love and adding a serious tone for those realism fanatics. I was truly impressed with this film. I really want to watch Avengers 2 right now!

  14. Bucky was poss my fav part of this. Barely said a word, yet could feel everything he was feeling. Awesome acting & directing there.

  15. whilst one of the better marvel movies, i felt that a lack of ‘winter soldier’ to be very disappointing. i would have expected him to turn tides towards the middle with him being a true ally by the end.

    my hopes are that they kill capt (steven evans) and have bucky take on the mantle (the actor is signed up for around 9 movies after all).

  16. I don’t usually comment but this movie was so dope!! One of the best marvel films. The action was great, the comedy was organic and natural (unlike Thor2), and the story and villain were fantastic. I HATED Iron man 3 and I thought Thor 2 was forgettable. For me the main problem that Phase 2 has is that it feels TOO disconnected from the universe. This one actually had ramifications that could change the MCU. And the fight scenes, holy s*** man!!! Def want to see this again

  17. I loved this movie, and the message it carried! Winter Soldier was incredible.

    I was very surprised about the button scene. I won’t divulge any further.

    Incredible movie, go see it guys! By the way, scarlett johansson, great side boob shot. :D

  18. On off the things I love is how they teased Stephen strange when Sitwell was being interrogated

  19. Great review Ben, I thought Rob K. usually covers the Marvel Universe. The more Super Positive reviews I have read, the more I see that they used some of Ed Brubaker series. Last Christmas, my wife got me the last two graphic novels I needed to complete my collection of Ed Brubaker and a couple of my friends have asked to borrow them since they heard about the Cap movie. I like being the ‘expert,’ with my friends when a comic movie comes out, I feel useful with my useless nerd knowledge. I’ll check this movie out this weekend, and then I’ll listen to the new podcast.

  20. The movie is great. But I think a major SIN for this one is the really quickly fall of SHIELD and Alexander Pierce.

    I mean, for me… thats not too credible… where was Pierce before this movie?
    It happened so quickly, and it sucks.

    Beyond this issue, I think the movie delivers big time.

  21. I’m sorry for my lack of knowledge, I was wondering, aren’t the twins from the ending is from X-men?
    I thought Marvel had a right issues with FOX in regard of X-Men.

    • You’re right, they’re from the X-Men, but they’ve also been members of the Avengers, as well. This is a strange occurrence where BOTH Fox and Marvel own rights to the characters, and can each use them freely. That’s why we’ll be seeing Quicksilver in the upcoming X-Men movie, and a totally different version of Quicksilver in Avengers 2

  22. I would have loved to see more interaction and romance with Agent 13. I mean I started to like the idea of Cap and Black Widow for a while.

  23. I think the thing I love the MOST about Captain America is his heart. I mean we know that he is the MOST qualified to lead the Avengers and that showed in Avengers movie. But his heart is what makes him clearly the best character to me. All he cares about it the well being of the people who can’t defend themselves. Willing to die to save millions in both movies was amazing. I love him calling the shots as well, he needs to call more shot in Avengers when it come to the battle field. I really wish we so some what of a romance with Agent 13 or Black Widow. I kind of felt at the end of WS that Black Widow may have felt something. What I would like to see is some sort of love Square in CA3. Black Widow wanting Cap, WS wanting Black Widow, Cap wanting Agent 13, and see how that unfolds.

  24. Iron Man IMO remains the best Marvel movie, but the Winter Soldier is clearly the 2nd best. Can’t wait for CAP 3 in 2016!

  25. I could’nt agree more with this review. Captain America The Winter Soldier is not only one of the best Marvel movies,it is one of the best comic book movies in years. X-Men and The Amazing Spiderman had better step up their game,because Cap,Black Widow and The Falcon kick some serious ass,in this epic film. A MUST SEE!!!

  26. Well I guess the speculation is over. Since they mentioned XX in the movie we can definitely expect a stand alone film, or at least an appearance in Avengers 2. Or am I being too optimistic.

  27. Captain America will known as the man who took down shield…with a shield! And the portal into another dimension opensssss…now

  28. *will be

  29. stephen strange was mentioned by sitwll. and also a man in cairo. it may be moon knight but can it be black panther ?e

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