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Review – MCU – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-imax-posterCaptain America – The Winter Soldier (2014)

Chris Evans
Samuel L Jackson
Scarlett Johansson
Robert Redford
Sebastian Stan
Anthony Mackie
Cobie Smoulders
Frank Grillo

Spoiler Free thoughts and Notes

The second entry in the Captain America series comes in right on the heels of The Avengers, or “Phase 2” of the Marvel Cinematic universe.  I want to take a moment here to comment on how the continuity of these movies have been handled up to this point, since this is the first “post crossover” movie.  This applies to pretty much all of the Phase 2 movies, though it seems to be disregarded some starting in Phase 3 (Post Age of Ultron).  For the most part, the major movie franchises that have been brought together for the Avengers, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man, work with or without the crossover film.

What I mean is, if you wanted to watch “Captain America” you could watch Cap 1 and Cap 2, and skip the avengers, and not really miss anything major in Captain America’s story.  This applies to the two Thor movies as well and, for the most part, to the two Iron Man movies, though there is some reference to Tony Stark’s PTSD from his actions in The Avengers during Iron Man 3.  It’s a plot point that could be written off as being related to other events however, if you were just coming in and watching the three Iron Man movies.  It’s a pretty clever story telling trick that I really liked in Phase 2 as a whole that seems to have been disregarded in a post Age of Ultron world.  Civil War is a direct product of the events in AoE, and it sounds like Thor 3 will have some relation to both AoE and Dr Strange.

It’s just a little side note I wanted to throw in, and something I kind of miss about the older MCU movies.  On to Captain America 2: The Winter Solder.


The Winter Soldier is considered by many to be, the best movie so far in the MCU.  As a whole, the Captain America movies tend to be the better films of the individual franchises, and The Winter Soldier is definitely the best of the three Cap movies.  I feel like what makes Captain America work so well is that he’s a super hero, but he’s not really a SUPER hero.  What I mean is, he doesn’t fly, he’s not invulnerable and gets worn out frequently.  He isn’t using some mystical magic or lasers and missiles.  His villains tend to be a bit more grounded and “real world”, he fights Nazis in the first movie and Hydra in the second movie.  That isn’t to say that the other heroes don’t work, Cap is just a lot more relatable as a whole.  Kind of a follow up to my remarks above, it’s something that felt lost a bit in his Phase 3 movie.

Synopsis and Spoiler Filled Thoughts


The movie opens with Steve Rodgers, Captain America infiltrating a hijacked ship and battling off a small group of hijackers.  It’s a really great cold open event for the film, it gives Captain America a chance to show off how he operates in combat and his various skills at infiltration.  We get reintroduced a bit to Natasha Romanoff, aka, Black Widow as well, who was previously introduced in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers.  The whole sequence feels very throw away at first as well, though becomes relevant to the plot later on as things evolve.  Basically, it works pretty well as a sort of showcase of “A day in the life of a SHIELD agent, something we haven to gotten to see a lot of out of these two since most of their action involved fighting Chitari aliens in The Avengers.

On a side note, at the time of this movie’s release, there has been plenty of opportunity to see regular SHIELD operations in the series Agents of SHIELD, which was early in it’s first season.  Agents of SHIELD suffered a bit initially with a slow start as the first 7 or 8 episodes were basically filler waiting for the events of The Winter Soldier film to happen.  After this movie, the show really picks up speed since the fall of SHIELD would certainly have heavy repercussions in a TV show entirely about SHIELD.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

During the mission Cap finds Widow doing some questionable secondary operations with the ships computer.  Eventually Cap faces off against the leader of the Hijackers, a mercenary named Batroc.  Another element of the MCU that really is fun is seeing these sort of 3rd tier characters show up and how they get “reimagined” to be more realistic.  Batroc in the comics wears a suit that makes him look a lot like a Purple Wolverine, in the movie, he’s just a skilled soldier.  Sure, it’s more boring, but grounding things more in reality like this is one of the more interesting aspects of the MCU in my opinion.


Cap questions the actions of Agent Romanoff to Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD and how he doesn’t care for the extra operations going on behind his back.  We get some other scenes of Steve doing various activities around Washington DC where we get introduced to Sam Wilson, a retired soldier who becomes a friend to Steve.

Meanwhile Nick Fury gets attacked on the streets of DC by several men masquerading as police officers.  This starts our second big action sequence of the film.  We get a lot of cool action and car chasing in Fury’s tricked out SHIELD SUV before he ends up ambushed and wrecked by a mysterious masked mercenary, the one known as The Winter Soldier.


Fury escapes and ends up at Captain America’s apartment where he tells Steve that SHIELD is compromised before being shot by a sniper.  Steve gives chase and discovered it’s the same mysterious soldier who has returned to finish the job of assassinating Nick Fury.  The Winter Soldier escape and Cap meets up with Romanoff and Agent Hill (Fury’s 2nd for all real purposes of the MCU) at the hospital where Fury dies.

Steve confronts Alexander Pierce, a government figure who worked with fury at the top of SHIELD.  Piece explains how the operation earlier in the movie involving the Hijackers on the ship had been orchestrated by Fury in order to steal SHIELD secrets.  Cap is of course suspicious of everything going on around him after Fury’s warning, with good reason.   Eventually on his way out of the building Cap is attacked in an elevator by a dozen or so SHIELD soldiers including Brock Rumlow, aka Crossbones, a reoccurring foil of this film.


It’s a pretty spectacular fight and escape sequence and really exemplifies why this film is so loved.  The fight and action  scenes are all very well done.  Like I mentioned before, it helps that Captain America is a more down to Earth hero, he doesn’t come off as someone who is just going to “win” every time, and often barely makes it out of the situations he lands in.

Cap escapes and meets up with Romanoff again, they decode the data swiped earlier in the film which leads them to an underground bunker in Steve’s old army camp from WW2.  They are greeted by Arman Zola, henchman to the Red Scull, who has managed to live on as a computer AI.  He gives a plot dump of how Hydra has been part of SHIELD since the start and controls everything inside and how Hydra plans to launch some Heli-carriers soon to wipe out anyone believed to be a threat.  The pair escapes a missile attack on the base and head back to the city to deal with the Hydra threat.  Along the way they recruit Sam Wilson and his winged jetpack as The Falcon.


During their drive they get ambushed again by The Winter Soldier and some grunts.  Once again, we get another pretty great street level fight between our three heroes and the villains.  Eventually Cap ends up unmasking the mysterious Winter Soldier to discover that he is in fact Bucky, Steve’s old friend from back in the World War 2 days.  The Winter Soldier escapes again and the heroes all end up taken into custody by Crossbones and is crew.

This brings up my one real complaint with this entire movie.  Bucky’s deal is sort of explained… but not really.  This is notable to some extent because it comes up again in the 3rd Captain America film but it’s never quite really explained super clearly.  Basically, after Bucky “died” during WW2, Hydra collected him up, gave him a metal arm, trained him, probably super soldier syrum-ed him like Cap, and made him an agent of Hydra.  His longevity and Winter Soldier name, comes because he gets his mind wiped and put in Cryo-stasis between operations.


So getting out of stasis on this review, Cap and crew get rescued by Maria Hill who takes them to a secret bunker where it’s revealed that Nick Fury is still alive and had faked his death.  He’s still pretty beat up and down for the count but he’s alive.  They regroup and make their final assault on SHIELD headquarters.   The elaborate plan is to insert these hard drives into each of the three Heli-carriers, reprogramming them to fire at each other.   Because you know, that’s how elaborate computer systems work.  All of this amazing technology at SHIELD’s disposal and swapping a few drives out in a massive flying aircraft carrier is enough to confuse the targeting systems?  Seems like it would be easier to recruit Iron Man and drop some C4 into each of the giant external engines but what do I know.  I mean sure they are pressed for time but Tony is pretty fast.

Anyway, we get another massive action sequence against various Hydra soldiers, Cap faces off against Bucky and Falcon against Crossbones.  Fury and Widow confront and deal with Alexander Pierce.  In the end the Heli-carriers are destroyed and SHIELD with it.  Bucky ends up turning good a bit, but not completely and runs off on his own after rescuing Cap.

It’s All Connected

The obvious connections here are to the first Captain America movie with Bucky and Captain America himself.  There aren’t a whole ton of references to Thor or Iron Man going on, or even The Avengers movie that immediately precedes it.  I didn’t mention Agent 13 at all.  She is never referenced in this movie by name but she is Agent Carter’s niece, the same Agent Carter who was Captain America’s girlfriend in the first movie who shows up briefly in this movie as a now old woman.

What’s Next

The movie leaves off with a set up for Steve hunting down Bucky and redeeming him.  SHIELD is “gone”, though that doesn’t seem to stick very well considering the continuing Agents of SHEILD show and the fact that Fury and SHIELD still show up in Age of Ultron and the later Civil War movie.  There isn’t a whole lot here to set up any of the larger MCU.  There isn’t any Infinity Stone or anything major for future plots or anything.  It’s actually a fairly contained experience, which is another good plus for the movie, as much as I like the connected aspects of it all.

The Final Verdict

Captain America: The Winter Soldier has a well deserved reputation as one of if not the best movie in the MCU.  It’s definitely a solid entry, though Doctor Strange and Ant-Man may give it a run for the money for best.

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