Captain America: The Winter Soldier is my favorite movie of the year. It had a lot to live up to when being compared to Chris Evans’ other appearances as Cap in Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers. Little did I know that Captain America: The Winter Soldier would surpass them both in quality to make it my favorite Marvel Studios film of all-time (so-far)!
Of the characters Marvel Studios have tackled so far, Captain America is my favorite. He’s a larger than life figure, and is so iconic and patriotic it would have been so easy to get him wrong. Captain America is an ode to the early 20th century, but Marvel Studio’s approach to the character — along with Chris Evans’ perfect take on Cap — is so dead-on are the biggest reasons why Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the “dream” Captain America movie you’ve always wanted!
I know everyone looks at Hugh Jackman and Robert Downey Jr., and people say that they are the absolute ideal castings in all of comic book movies. But to me, not since Christopher Reeve as Superman has a superhero character been played as beautifully accurate as Chris Evans as Captain America. In all of his appearances, Steve Rogers (Captain America’s alter ego) is played as a straight-up good human being. He doesn’t lie (which, unlike my boy Superman, lies ALL THE TIME when he is in his guise as Clark Kent!), he wants to have faith in everyone, most importantly in himself. And there is something dynamic about Chris Evans’ delivery; his character evokes such sincerity that it doesn’t shock me that so many people in the fictitious Marvel Studios universe revere Captain America. The good people of America will always do right by the world…Captain’s orders.
And it would have been so easy to get that sincere aspect of Captain America wrong. Just look at his previous live-action appearances with his late 70’s TV movies and the Matt Salinger 1990 Captain America. But Evans’ delivery, combined with Marvel’s fearless attitude in embracing everything about the character — including proudly displaying Cap’s red, white, and blue — make this an iconic representation.
As for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel Studios followed comic book history by first establishing Cap as a World War II hero, then de-thawed by S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers, and now it is time for Captain America to have a solo adventure in present day, despite many familiar supporting characters also playing a role in this movie. Returning characters include Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders); while also introducing an incredibly important character in Captain America canon; The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). The film also sets up a possible romance in Cap’s future with Sharon Carter, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) and Captain America’s primary love interest from the funny pages. The crux of the film hinges on trust and loyalty. Captain America knew who he was fighting for in WW2, but since he has come back, this new world has shown him disillusionment in regards to his allies and enemies. Cap just can’t make out who he should trust. However things aren’t all bad for Cap, who in the beginning of the film, seems to have acclimated to the perks of living in the 21st Century. But that all changes very quickly.
Captain America doesn’t know the good guys from the bad guys, and he and the Black Widow get caught up in an unpredictable conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D. It is revealed that Hydra has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. from its inception, but the biggest bombshell is that Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Captain America’s best friend from his childhood, never died as he appeared to have in Captain America: The First Avenger. Dr. Arnim Zola, played again by Toby Jones, experimented on Barnes in the first film, cryogenically freezing Bucky until they needed to use him as the brainwashed assassin, The Winter Soldier. Hydra used The Winter Soldier to shape the 20th Century.
One of the things that I loved about Captain America: The First Avenger was the romance between Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Steve. So it was beautiful to me to see that she is still alive in The Winter Soldier, and the two of them are able to share more heartfelt scenes. But Peggy was only in the movie for a couple minutes, so it amazes me that the writers of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who also had written the first film) were able to instill the same heart between the relationship between Steve and Bucky.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo most notable for directing episodes of the stellar sitcom, Community. (And look out later in the film for a cameo from none other than Abed from Community, where he plays a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, or possibly a Hydra undercover soldier; it is never specified.) Anyway, The Russo Brothers direction of the film is just astounding. I was mostly taken aback about how slick the action is in the film. When The Winter Soldier was on screen, I would get the same vibe as I did in The Terminator films.
Robert Redford played the antagonist in the film, Alexander Pierce, which is very enjoyable to see. Pierce didn’t have superhuman powers; he just plays an evil head of a homicidal organization. The character is a lunatic, but because he was played with the acting prowess of Redford, the audience hung on to every word that he had said.
The extra features in this Blu-ray package are lacking, just as they are with all of Marvel’s films. Regardless, the featurettes we are given are very entertaining, especially the ones that focused on Cap’s tactical fighting methods. The deleted scenes were also great, but there weren’t very many of them. Then there’s always the blooper reel, but nothing really shined as laugh-out-loud funny. Despite there being so few extra features, the Blu-ray transfer of Captain America:
The Winter Soldier is simply beautiful. Quite frankly, the movie could have come with no extras and I still would recommend the movie without any reservations. Captain America seems to be the most important cog in the Avengers machine, and it has never been more evident than in this wonderfully, beautiful superhero film.