Somewhere along the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe shifted, and it’s tough to figure out exactly where it happened.  When things got kicked off at the beginning, there was little doubt that Iron Man was the catalyst of the Avengers and the lynch pin of the MCU at large.  By the time Winter Soldier hit, in my mind, anyway, it’s clear that the central figure of the Marvel movie world is no longer Stark, but Rogers instead.  If that wasn’t final at the beginning of Captain America: Winter Soldier, it sure as heck was by the end.


Winter Soldier is pure cinematic perfection.  It’s an almost effortless blend between taught action/political thriller and super hero film, proving once and for all that “comic book movie” is NOT a genre unto itself.  That’s the beauty of what Marvel Studios has accomplished, they’ve managed to create sub-genres within the genre and develop films that aren’t shoehorned just as super hero movies.

From the opening scene with the fantastic charisma between Captain America, Falcon, and the Black Widow, continuing on to the spectacularly well choreographed infiltration of the Lumurian Star, Winter Soldier is simply three steps ahead and above what we’ve seen in Phase 2 up to this point.  Everything is ratcheted up as the entirety of SHIELD hangs in the balance.


Fury and Cap never end up having that brotherly association they had in the comics, as almost immediately they’re at each other’s throats discussing Project: Insight and the three next generation super Helicarriers being designed.  Before we can even catch a breath, Fury has been shot, the Winter Soldier introduced against the backdrop of his haunting theme music, and we’re off to the races.

Captain America faces off against SHIELD themselves, soon revealed to be Hydra, then uncovers the most sinister secret in the MCU to date, the fact that Hydra has infiltrated SHIELD all along and choreographed some of the worst catastrophes in modern history over the past fifty years.  Cap, Widow, and Falcon are on the run, forced to fight against the entire might of SHIELD with only their will.


Well, Fury comes back to help, too.

Every single action scene in this film is so well designed and orchestrated with Steve Rogers callously kicking his enemies twenty feet in the air, balancing between normal hand-to-hand combat and fantastic examples of his super soldier infused abilities.  The way the Russo brothers orient the action sequences in this film is the stuff of legends, and I can’t remember being inspired by so many great fight scenes in a film in a very long time.

Not to mention the scenes of Falcon scorching through the air, dodging heavy artillery and balancing perfectly between airborne and ground combat.  The fighting is impactful and dramatic and, for lack of a better term, really adds some punch to the film.


The importance of the events in Winter Soldier can’t be overstated.  SHIELD crumbles under the weight of Hydra’s infiltration, an event that is still being felt in the Agents of SHIELD television series nearly two years later (not to mention Avengers: Age of Ultron).  Secret Hydra agents are revealed everywhere from Senator Stern and Jasper Sitwell, all the way to Alexander Pierce and the Strike team themselves.

Like my previous #1 favorite MCU film (yes, Winter Soldier dethrones Avengers here) the best parts of the film aren’t necessarily the action scenes (though these are truly spectacular) but the charisma and familiarity of the characters as well.  Widow and Cap feel like they’re long time friends, even though at the end of Avengers they didn’t necessarily seem that way.  You can tell that time has passed and that bonds have developed since the incident in New York City.


Seeing the return of Bucky as Winter Soldier felt like it was important, not just tacked on, and the subtle birth of Cap villain Crossbones was a nice element to work in there, too.  Falcon’s introduction was worked to perfection, and I’m thrilled to see him making a big return in Civil War in the next few weeks as well (not to mention his awesome scene in Ant Man).

Captain America: Winter Soldier isn’t just my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe film, but it may very well be one of my favorite films of all time.  The characters, the action and the high stakes all blend together to weave a fantastic tale of intrigue, super powered action, and character driven plot.  I really struggle to find any faults whatsoever.

"Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier" Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) Ph: Zade Rosenthal © 2014 Marvel.  All Rights Reserved.

“Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson)
Ph: Zade Rosenthal
© 2014 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

While Phase 2 started rocky with both Iron Man 3 and Thor (The Dark World), it suddenly sprang to life with Captain America: Winter Soldier.  Joss Whedon is apparently done with the MCU as of Age of Ultron, but I can’t think of anyone I’d like better rather than the Russo brothers who have proven their worth.  I cannot wait to see them handle Captain America again on May 6th when Civil War hits theaters.

Ongoing Rank:

#9 – Iron Man 3
#8 – Thor (The Dark World)
#7 – Iron Man 2
#6 – Thor
#5 – Incredible Hulk
#4 – Captain America: The First Avenger
#3 – Iron Man
#2 – Avengers
#1 – Captain America: Winter Soldier

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