There are a number of things that make Captain America: The Winter Soldier not quite perfect. Natasha’s speech to the governmental enquiry at the end is a bit self-righteous and silly. SHIELD seems to have been infiltrated absurdly easily. Arnim Zola is abruptly re-introduced and then destroyed in one exposition-filled scene. The villain is immediately obvious from his first appearance—and really, ever since the film’s advanced publicity material began to be released (although at least that’s overtly revealed quite early on). And there’s something more than a bit convenient about how the three giant Death Stars in the sky can be overcome by replacing three easy-to-access, unguarded circuits boards.
Yet in spite of this the movie is a huge success, and continue to show that Marvel has learned a thing or two about keeping this franchise strong, as all of their films since The Avengers can attest. Winter Soldier really highlights all the cool things about Captain America, and ends up being a more fun movie than its predecessor, in spite of its overall darker tone and subject matter.
A lot of this is because the sequel makes excellent use of all of the character’s defining characteristics—ultimate soldier & fighter, supreme believer in the ideals of America, and hero displaced in time—while telling a rousing tale to boot. Black Widow and Nick Fury both have lots to do and are taken deeper as characters, and the movie also introduces the Falcon in a way that’s likeable, integral and cool. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him. Chris Evans again proves that he was cast perfectly as Steve Rogers, and the rest of the cast do a good job too.
There’s another quibble with the film which might not be such a big deal after the next sequel comes out, and that’s that for a movie subtitled The Winter Soldier, it doesn’t deal with the Winter Soldier as much as I’d have liked. Instead it’s all about stopping a Hydra-infested SHIELD from launching massive death platforms into the sky which can wipe out thousands of enemies at once with the precision of a legion of ninja-snipers. As I said, that makes for a gripping tale, but one really wants to find out more of who the Winter Soldier is, how he got that way, and how he’s been used over the years, as well as what does the future hold for him. But having said that, it looks like we will get all of that sometime later—certainly, with Sebastian Stan just signing a nine movie deal (or something like that) with Marvel studios, that seems likely.
So, if you’re into the Marvel superhero movie franchises, than Captain America: The Winter Soldier is sure to please. There are lots of awesome scenes of Cap showing why he’s the best fighter there is, there’s lots of fun other Marvel comic characters, Stan Lee’s obligatory cameo is pretty good, Danny Pudi from Community shows up for a second, and as an added bonus, you get to see Jenny Agutter sort of beat up Robert Redford, which, let’s face it, is an idea whose day we all thought was long past.