Captain America: The Winter Soldier review; No longer the joke of the Avengers

By: Kamel Benyahia

This movie did what the first movie failed to do; establish Captain America (Chris Evans) as a tactical genius with impeccable fighting skills.  The tone of this film is more serious than the other Marvel films and feels like a genuine spy-thriller at times.  This plays to Captain America’s strengths as an intelligent soldier who can hold his own with any villain or comrade.

Captain America’s strengths are shown off early in the movie when he and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are tasked with leading a tactical team on a night-time naval ship raid.  Captain America breaks down the entire team’s roles and then proceeds to neutralize every threat on the deck of the ship with ease.  The scenes where Captain America is unleashing his full arsenal of attacks stand out because of the visceral and brutal nature of hand to hand combat.  There is plenty of action in this movie, and it does a good job of showcasing the Cap’s combat skills.

Black Widow is a great character to pair up with Captain America considering her shady background.  She is just as smart as Captain America, but doesn’t share the same super-human abilities.  It doesn’t matter though, Black Widow can hold her own against the strongest villains by using her tactical prowess and hit-and-run attack style.  Considering this movie straddles the spy-thriller genre, it was a good idea bringing Black Widow into the fold.  She primarily operates in the shadows and knows how to survive without the support of a team.  Her anti-hero tendencies clash with Captain America’s all-American style making for interesting banter between the two.

Anthony Mackie plays Cap’s modern-day sidekick, Sam Wilson, who dons a wing-suit and provides air-support for Captain America.  His character was a bit flat, and I felt like he could have been utilized better.  There were moments that my suspension of disbelief was tested as Mackie’s character was flying around.  I wish the wing-suit had a little more explanation behind it because it didn’t impress me like Iron Man’s suit of armor.  Mackie was serviceable as the Cap’s sidekick, but I don’t see him getting his own spinoff any time soon.

Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury and goes toe to toe with screen-legend Robert Redford who plays Alexander Pierce.  These two screen-legends bring a lot of gravitas to the Marvel film much like Tommy Lee Jones did for the first Captain America.  It’s hard to talk about this movie without giving away serious plot details considering it plays out like a spy-thriller.  This movie has Captain America going rogue against an organization designed to protect people around the world.  Captain America’s rogue status is the reason why Black Widow was a good match-up for the film.  With Black Widow’s skill-set and Captain’s abilities they are able to accomplish quite a bit.

The Winter Soldier was a great villain to pit against Captain America considering his history and skill-set.  He balances well with Captain America by pitting super-solider versus super-soldier.  He is Russia’s copy of Captain America with the exception of a robotic arm.  I never read the Captain America comic books, but I would imagine the Winter Soldier series were some of the best if this movie is any indication.  It seems to work better with audiences when they see a villain on equal ground or more powerful than the hero because we like rooting for the underdog, usually.

This has been one of the more enjoyable Marvel movies I have seen.  It was more grounded and yet still had major impacts on the Marvel universe.  I have to admit I am a bit indifferent about Captain America, but this film has piqued my interest.  I appreciated this film more than any of the Iron Man and Thor films to date.  I would recommend seeing this movie, but not in 3D.  I felt like the 3D distracted from the film too much.


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