Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) PosterWinter is Coming

Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the agent known as the Winter Soldier.

When looking back at Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it wouldn't be remiss to say that the Star Spangled Avenger known as Captain America wasn't the most favoured of the gang. People unfairly dismissed him as bland and boring, but this reviewer can assuredly say that peoples tunes of him will change upon seeing his next encounter.

The challenge with making numerous Marvel films is that the people could get tired of them each feeling the same, not really distinguishing themselves from one another. The different films in the MCU overcome this and set themselves apart easily by defining themselves into different genres. The Winter Soldier takes on the role of a political thriller, and works well with the genre as much as it does a superhero film.

Cap faces an existential crisis as he ponders whether the ends justify the means in discovering that the America he currently lives in isn't held to the same ideals as the America he grew up in. The Russo brothers may not be the first choice to bring these themes to life, being comedy veterans of Community, Arrested Development and, erm, You, Me and Dupree. But they manage to play off the political aspects extremely well, made all the more relevant by recent news of NSA and Edward Snowden. The action scenes take a more grounded tone from recent outings of metal suit armies and gods, but come off as some of the most impressive seen in a superhero film, which says a lot about how much excitement can be mined from seeing somebody throw what is essentially a giant metal frisbee around.

Chris Evans may not have been anybody's first choice to play such the iconic superhero, but he plays the role with such charm that reminds you of the sincere, kind hearted soul who Steve still is, with or without the muscles and abs. He forms an enjoyable double act with Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, which is enjoyable to watch, on par with Tony Stark and Rhodey's wonderful partnership from last year's Iron Man 3. She enjoys her biggest role to date, compared to her prior appearances, as does Samuel L Jackson, who steps up from his previous cameo roles, getting a fair share of the action scenes, to remind you how much of a badass he truly is.

Anthony Mackie joins the Universe as Sam Wilson, a veteran of War who becomes a good buddy to Steve and is likeable enough that you hope it won't be long before he makes a return appearance. The comic book costume of the Falcon would've looked utterly ridiculous, so thank goodness the Russo's have given it a more grounded look as a military style exoskeleton, which works well in this world.

The Winter Soldier is brought in with an air of mystery. A masked figure with a robotic arm, appearing out of nowhere, facing down an oncoming vehicle with a weapon in hand. He proves to be a formidable foe, capable of standing toe to toe with Cap, and one of the more memorable antagonists to come from the MCU. He disappears out of nowhere, a ghost who's only out to complete his mission. It's just a shame that he often feels like a footnote to the SHIELD aspects of the film.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an impressive entry to the MCU, powered by a deftly handled political thriller tone, impressive action scenes and a brilliant cast. The future of the Marvel Universe will certainly be an interesting place after this film.