Before you start reading this, I want to warn you. I will be spoiling the crap out of the movie. If you don’t want to know who the Winter Solider really is and what role he will play in the future then stop reading. You have been warned!!
As an unabashed lover of all things comics, it’s pretty easy for me to get excited about everything Marvel is doing at the moment. I get even more excited when the people involved in said projects take things seriously and make a near perfect movie. That’s exactly what directors Anthony and Joe Russo do with Cap 2. The setup is pretty straight up. Captain America, The Black Widow, and Sam Wilson team up to take down the returning Hydra. The flick is not only an extremely strong follow-up to Cap’s first outing (Captain America: The First Avenger), but it also is the standard bearer for all future Marvel projects. The movie will also have a massive impact on anything else the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer. The repercussions of the events of this film will felt throughout everything yet to come.
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is still adjusting to life in the 21st Century. Rogers is at the top of his game, but he has become disillusioned with his work at S.H.I.E.L.D.. All of the secrets and back room dealings have left Rogers questioning what (and who) he’s even fighting for in a post-Avengers world.
After S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is attacked by a group of heavily armed men and the mysterious Soviet Operative, The Winter Solider. Rogers must set aside his issues with S.H.I.E.L.D. to figure out exactly what is going on and who he can trust. Joined by Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and new comer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Sam Wilson, aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie). After being labeled a traitor by Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) Rogers drops off the grid and begins digging into all of S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets.
Taking the helm from Joe Jonson (director of Captain America: The First Avenger) are The Russo Brothers. They were extremely successful in building off of what came before their movie (there’s a heart breaking scene between Steve Rogers and very old Peggy Carter) to create an entertaining, action-packed, spy flick. This is also the first time the Marvel movies take a cue from their comic book counterpart. The Winter Soldier is one the best Marvel movies yet. There are so many hidden gems in the movie as well. Not only are there two post credit sequences, but there are also all kinds of name dropping (a certain Doctor of the mystic arts was mentioned). There are also a few characters who were main characters in the books, but take a back seat in the movie (Agent 13 or Rogers’ neighbor). The Captain America sequel tells a perfectly crafted political thriller story with clever ties the larger Marvel universe. Both die-hard comic fans and casual fans of the movies will really enjoy the film.
Now here’s where the spoilers start so stop reading if you don’t want to know more. As a reader of the comics, I knew who the Winter Solider was from the get, but the reveal was so perfectly done that I had goose bumps leading up to the revelation. During a fight between Rogers and The Winter Solider, it is revealed that The Winter Solider is none other than Cap’s long time best friend, Bucky Barnes. If you remember from the first film, Bucky was believed to be dead after being knocked off a train into the freezing water below. Much like in the comics, Bucky was saved by the Soviets, brainwashed, and became the perfect assassin. When Steve learns that his best friend is still alive, his world is rocked again and he takes it upon himself to get his friend back.
This marks the first time that Marvel has taken a plot line from the comics and implemented them into the movies. If there was ever a plot point to use, this was it. It was amazing to see it all unfold on the big screen. It differs a little from the source (Black Widow takes the spot of Sharon Carter) material but it was a perfect fit into the movie itself. If they follow the story from the comics, we might see a new actor take over the mantle of Captain America in the near future.
Overall, this is the best installment in Phase 2 and very possibly the best in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s everything I wanted in a Captain America movie and I can only hope the trend continues for future Cap movies.