The Road To Endgame – Part 9: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Robert Redford is pretty good isn’t he?
It’s just like, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in anything other than this film? Well, apart from his turn in the 1962 Twilight Zone episode ‘Nothing In The Dark’. Go watch that by the way, it’s nothing short of excellent. But that’s about all I’ve ever seen him in.
But anyway, more on that later. This is movie number nine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe rewatch. The sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, The Winter Soldier had a lot to live up to. After all, that film was probably one of the best in the entire first phase of the MCU. Can it possibly live up to the previous film? Hell, can it possibly be even better than The Avengers? Let’s take a deeper look and dive right in.
From the offset, Captain America: The Winter Soldier had me hooked. Whereas, so far in the MCU, it’s been mainly just pure action movies, this is a different type of movie, a spy thriller.
It’s nice (and indeed, quite rare) to see a franchise try a fresh genre nine movies in. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is about our titular Captain America trying to evade an organisation gone rogue. You see, SHIELD has been infiltrated by HYDRA, the evil organisation of actual Nazis (a fact this film glosses over for some strange reason) and they’ve been there for a long time, hiding and waiting.
It’s up to Captain America, his newly minted sidekick The Falcon and Black Widow to save the few SHIELD agents that aren’t HYDRA agents and stop HYDRA from using Minority Report style tech to kill anybody who could ever possibly be a threat to them. Along the way, Captain America runs into his long-thought dead best friend, Bucky Barnes, who as it turns out has been turned into a brainwashed killing machine by HYDRA themselves.
They’ve been using him to influence key events in the world. This does beg a question in my mind: was it Bucky who killed JKF back in 1963 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? It’s an interesting thought, but I digress from the main point. This is the basic plot of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and all you really need to know to understand the effects it has on the MCU.
You see, this film probably has the biggest effect on the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. Sure, Iron Man started it all and The Avengers showed the world that aliens exist in-universe, but this film dismantles the safety net of SHIELD for all the heroes. Now they’ve got to work alone, they’ve got no intelligence force to fall back on.
The cast is magnifique. Chris Evans is back as Captain America, a role he completely and utterly owns in this film.
He’s charming, funny and just generally makes what could have been pretty dark material seem lighter for his presence. Scarlett Johannsson is also back as Black Widow, more of the same mysterious badass we saw in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. Samuel L Jackson is back as Nick Fury, although his role is short, and for good reason too. An actor of Jackson’s calibre could easily have overshadowed the rest of the film, but the Russo Brothers did his character in such a way that he wouldn’t.
Of course, the three major additions to this film are Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce, easily one of the most nuanced performances and best villain portrayals in the MCU; Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, a genuine threatening presence when compared to his previous appearance as a friend of Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger; Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson, perhaps better known by his alter ego The Falcon.
Mackie honestly almost steals the show here, he’s that good. He’s just got something I can’t put my finger on that makes any moment with his character a complete and total delight.
You may have noticed I’ve not yet pointed out any major flaw in this film. Indeed, I haven’t even pointed out a minor flaw. Well, that’s because if there is one I’ll be damned if I can find it.
It’s one of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and indeed one of my favourite movies just overall, without the MCU label. Check this one out regardless of whether you’re interested in the MCU or not.