Captain America: The Winter Soldier (movie review)

I finally got around to seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier this weekend and like The First Avenger, it exceeded my expectations. It’s at 89% at Rotten Tomatoes, but how does this movie work for the hardcore, casual and first time viewer? Let’s dig in!


Hardcore Fan Experience
If you’re a hardcore Marvel fan of both the comics and the movies, then Captain America: The Winter Soldier is packed with fan service that may or may not delight you.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier dovetails from the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so nicely that it’s almost spooky… and yet, almost none of the characters from the show appear in the flick – certainly no prominent ones. That’s not really a problem, but since the movie revolves so heavily around the S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra conflict the show has been building on for the last several episodes – if not the entire season and we just didn’t realize it.

The movie also features appearances from fan favorite Captain America characters such as Agent 13/Sharon Carter, who is barely in the movie – I presume she’s there just to be set up for later. Brock Rumlow is featured prominently in the movie, but his comic books origins as Crossbones are so far divorced from who we see in this movie, I have to wonder what the point was of even calling him Rumlow – except for fan service.

The best bit of fan service (for me) was just watching the way Captain America fought his enemies: finally: Cap moves like Cap, fights like Cap, uses the shield like Cap! Sure, some of the combat is photographed a bit too tight in that scene on the boat (it’s reminiscent of Batman Begins, if you know what I mean), but otherwise, it was great to see. Maybe the knife is a bit much, but whatever.

Casual Fan Experience
If you’ve seen some of the Marvel movies, you should be ok, but if you didn’t see The First Avenger, it’s fair to say you’re screwed. Otherwise, you’re good to go; you don’t need to see Thor: The Dark World to enjoy this movie… or even watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so from that standpoint, The Winter Soldier is extremely forgiving.

First Time Viewer Experience
If you didn’t see The First Avenger, I’m not sure if this movie is going to fill in all the blanks for you. I think it explains most of the main story and it’s not as though it’s Shakespeare, so you can figure it out, but it’s a lot to take in.

General Movie Stuff
Two points here that don’t affect the movie’s quality at all:

“For a movie called Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there are long bits without Captain America.”
This movie is very much a Marvel Universe ensemble flick almost as The Avengers was – except instead of starring Iron Man, this movie stars Cap. This doesn’t hurt the story at all, it’s just an interesting point.

“For a movie called Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there are long bits without The Winter Soldier”

I’m not sure at exactly what minute mark The Winter Soldier makes his first appearance, but it takes a while. Again, doesn’t hurt the movie, it’s just kind of interesting. It’s the anti Batman formula, if you will, since The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises introduce the villain in the very first scene.

Maybe I’m biased as a big Cap fan, but I loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I thought they took the original story from the comic and integrated into this new Marvel Movie Universe perfectly. The movie is long (136 minutes), but the pace is solid, the performances are engaging and it’s just an exciting time at the movies. I plan on seeing it again in 3D – I liked it that much. I’m giving it a 9 out of 10; it’s easily the best Marvel Movie since the first Iron Man.

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