Picking up two years after the events of Marvel’s "The Avengers", "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" doesn’t waste any time showing off Captain America and his old style but still with a charming sense of humor. The movie proved to display balanced amounts of humor, suspense and action, all wrapped up in bow and ready to be presented.
First, the characters. With one exception, not much has been revealed about the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. up until now. We knew that Black Widow was a former KGB operative and that Nick Fury had built up a reputation for himself as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., but that was pretty much it. This time around, we learn more about Fury and Miss Romanoff. We get an in-depth look at Fury’s trust issues, how he became Director and who it is that he really cares about when push comes to shove. As for Black Widow, we see her trade in the black cat suit for a hoodie, jeans and sneakers. And when don’t see her getting shot at or being a total badass, she’s helping the Captain adjust to modern life by trying to set him up on dates and loosen up.
Following Marvel’s recent trend of gaining a new super hero companion in the first sequel, we meet Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, a veteran pararescuer working in the VA in Washington D.C. Wilson is first seen being continuously lapped by the Captain early on in the film. Considering Falcon is the only Marvel companion in a sequel not to have been introduced in the original film, he fits in pretty well. There were no “Where did this guy come from?” moments, even though his significance doesn’t reveal itself until later on in the film.
Overall, this movie really makes a statement for super heroes without super powers, invulnerability or a titanium alloy suit that can withstand a hit from a Norse god and fire ion beams. Granted the Captain is subject to genetically manipulated physical enhancements, he is far enough from super human to have to face his own mortality. Black Widow, the Captain, Falcon, and Nick Fury all have brushes with death, some more severe than others, throughout the movie and there are more than a fair share of instances when you’re not sure which hero will perish and which will live to see another sequel.
We also get to see a bit of what happened during the 70-year gap between the present day and the Captain’s last stand before he was frozen. This includes what happened to Hydra after their spectacular takedown, the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D and some closure regarding the Captain’s best girl, Peggy. Winter Soldier did an excellent job at providing a lot of backstory the viewers may not have even known they wanted, without forcing choppy dialogue and monologue into the plot. The only exception may be a hasty explanation of a vicious mercenary who has sporadically popped up throughout history over the last 50 years, known only as the Winter Soldier. Then again, the Captain had been absent for 70 years and anything that helps shorten lengthy monologues by villains can’t be that bad.
If there is one thing to have disappointed, it would have to be the Winter Soldier himself. While his action scenes are great, the quiet interaction with other characters left something to be desired. Every aspect of the Winter Soldier could be greatly improved, but it was obvious that he would be making another appearance in the future and hopefully the depth that was pined for will be produced in spades.