One word aptly describes Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Wow! If I could write a one word review, that would be it, case closed. As it stands, you’d never see this coming from a duo of comedy-directing brothers. Joe and Anthony Russo may be best known for their work on Community and Arrested Development, but they’ve knocked Cap out of the park. Packed full of intrigue, plot twists, laughs, and Easter eggs — let alone tearing down everything we’ve come to know about Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. universe — Winter Soldier is a literal game-changer and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been shifted forever.
Catching up with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), we find him living in Washington, D.C. where he spends his mornings jogging around the National Mall. One morning he runs past Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), a war vet and PTSD counselor. Their chat is interrupted by Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) when she picks up Steve for a mission in the Indian Ocean. A group of pirates, led by Batroc (Georges St-Pierre), have taken a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship hostage and now Captain America is being sent in by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to rescue the crew, including Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández).
Meanwhile, Natasha is on her own mission to collect the ship’s data for Fury. Steve begins to question his opinion of S.H.I.E.L.D., made even more muddled after Fury introduces him to Operation: Insight, consisting of three helicarriers designed for pre-emptive threat elimination. Rogers doesn’t realize how corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. is until Fury is attacked by the mysterious “Winter Soldier” (Sebastian Stan) and winds up on the lam after senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) deems Rogers a suspect in Fury’s attack. Now, Captain America must clear his name and get to the bottom of what’s really going on at S.H.I.E.L.D. with the help of the only people he thinks he can trust, Romanoff and Wilson.
A lot of people have complained about Joe Johnston’s first Captain America outing, with it winding up as Marvel’s most underrated film of their Phase One. Phase Two has its sights set far higher, and could send viewers all the way back to the beginning, questioning what’s really been going on in the prior films. There is a method to Marvel’s madness, but nothing can prepare you for the hell that breaks loose in Winter Soldier. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have instituted a new order to the MCU so it’s no wonder the next film (Guardians of the Galaxy) takes us to a whole new world to catch our breath.
I also can’t wait to see how ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will address the events of Winter Soldier considering the entire show is based around the agency. This Captain America has more plot and incredible action than most films combined, making sure you’re never bored or confused. You’d never know this is a 136-minute film. And of course there are two end credit sequences, so make sure you stick around until the lights come back on. The only thing left to say, is the Russo Brothers have upped the ante to the entire line of Marvel films and both James Gunn and Joss Whedon will have to step up their game to outdo Winter Soldier.
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