Director(s): Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford
Release Date (US): 4th April, 2014
Company: Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel Studios
“Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?” – Steve Rogers
Captain America: The Winter Soldier once again stars Chris Evans (Snowpiercer) as the Star-Spangled Avenger. Now working with SHIELD and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, Lucy) to counter global threats, Steve Rogers is still struggling to adapt to life in the 21st Century. Cap’s world is turned upside-down once again with the appearance of the mysterious Winter Soldier, setting off a devastating chain of events. Directing the sequel to 2011’s underrated The First Avenger are Anthony & Joe Russo (Community)
There are no two ways about it, this film is a political thriller masquerading as a superhero movie. Screenwriting duo Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Captain America: The First Avenger) prioritise the story this time around, leaving the comic-book characters and universe to fill-in the major roles. It works wonderfully – this is arguably the most airtight script Marvel have ever produced. Full of action, laughter, heart and thrills, it has it all.
The movie’s most interesting character is always meant to be its lead. Steve Rogers is the one trustworthy character that audiences can relate to in this shady world of spies and secrets. While his interplay with Black Widow is fantastic, it’s his difficulty shifting back into a normal life that’s most interesting. The plot is as twisty as it is engaging, punctuated by some great action sequences – although they do, at times, go a little over-the-top.
“Then finish it. ‘Cause I’m with you ’til the end of the line.” – Steve Rogers
Since stepping into the role in 2011, Chris Evans has accomplished wonders with the Star-Spangled Avenger – but his finest hour has surely come here. Honest, brave and intensely likeable, Evans delivers just the right amount of badass and heart’ with this fantastic portrayal. Stealing headlines alongside him was Avengers co-star, Scarlett Johansson, whose sleek and snarky Black Widow ended up being the perfect foil to Cap.
The supporting cast has talent in spades, anchored by heavyweights: Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) and Robert Redford (Sneakers) – both of whom turned in performances worthy of their big reputations. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)’s Falcon was a welcome addition to the cast – displaying great chemistry with Evans as well as adding some much needed levity to the film. Although perhaps a little overrated, Sebastian Stan (Gone)’s brutal Winter Soldier still ranks as one of the MCU’s best villains to date.
Direction & Tone
With only one feature-film to their name, the Russo Bros’ inclusion as directors may have been a surprise to a few. However, they easily proved the doubters wrong, delivering what is arguably Marvel’s most well-made film yet. Intensely dramatic, subtly hilarious and full of multiple breath-taking action sequences, the Russos got the tone spot-on – proving that humour in Marvel movies is best handled by comedy directors.
- This movie is laden with easter eggs – from some truly wonderful MCU references (which I won’t spoil here), to a few nods to pop-culture faves like War Games and Pulp Fiction. As with anything involving the Russos, it’s a Community fan’s wet dream!
- There’s a certain scene in this film involving Cap at his badass best that has been revolutionised by someone dubbing the Team America music in the background. It may well be the greatest thing I have ever seen – you can watch it here.
- “The 21st Century is a digital book… bank records, medical histories, voting patterns, emails, phone calls, your damn SAT scores!” – I’m taking the latter as a lovely little nod to The Perfect Score, a teen heist film which just so happened to star Evans and Johansson… And is probably a movie I shouldn’t admit to being a big fan of…
- “41st floor! 41st!”… “It’s not like they put the floor numbers on the outside of the building!” – This movie is genuinely hilarious!
- These films have done wonders with the character of Captain America – taking him from overly patriotic boy-scout to everyone’s favourite honest, down-to-earth Avenger.
The Russo Bros deliver an entertaining yet thoughtful blockbuster sequel, backed by a talented cast and crew. Throw in big performances from Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans, and we’re looking at one of the finest superhero and action movies of the year.
Result: “Very Good”