I was never a huge fan of the first "Captain America" film. It always felt like a necessary final stop on the "Avengers" train before assembling the entire crew on screen. The giant musical number in the middle didn't help.
Out of all the Marvel movies released up to that point, it was probably the one I liked the least. (It's also the one that made the least money, excluding the two previous Hulk films.)
If you're hesitant about seeing the sequel, don't be. It's pretty awesome and dare I say one of the best Marvel movies made.
Business Insider attended a screening of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" Monday evening and it's an absolute thrill ride that can easily keep up with Iron Man and Thor.
Was it better than "The Avengers"?
It’s difficult to top a billion dollar movie with so much star power — and with the absence of Tony Stark — but it comes pretty darn close.
Chris Evans returns (noticeably a bit more fit) as the First Avenger Steve Rogers. Like "Iron Man 3" and "Thor: The Dark World," the sequel shows how the Captain is coping after the events of "The Avengers" and Rogers seems to be adjusting better than the other superheroes.
He's working with S.H.I.E.L.D and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and lives in Washington, D.C. His biggest problems are catching up with decades worth of pop culture and news and finding a girlfriend.
Don't worry, unlike the first film, we're not subjected to any sing-songy montages.
Rather it's action packed from beginning to end *spoilers* following a corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. agency overrun by Hydra (an organization that wants to rule the world) that's wants to cleanse the world of millions of people. *spoilers*
Want fight sequences, guns firing, car crashes, and explosions? You got them. (For parents planning to take their kids, it's probably the least kid-friendly of all the Marvel movies.)
Captain America steps up his game ten-fold in the sequel whether he's taking out an entire crew aboard a ship in the Indian Ocean or escaping pursurers from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. The elevator scene that’s been heavily teased in trailers is even better on screen as part of a much longer fight sequence.
There's one more scene when Rogers confronts the Winter Soldier that really stands out. When his shield gets blocked you could literally feel the reverberation of the two forces colliding from our theater seats.
Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury delivers one of the most heart-pounding moments of the film in a crazy car chase. Normally, popping up throughout the Marvel universe to unite the Avengers team and dish out assignments, the S.H.I.E.L.D. director never gets his hands dirty fighting the bad guys so seeing him get his own time on screen was a great surprise.
Johansson also has a much larger role as Black Widow. That makes sense since Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige hinted the character may eventually receive her own film. Widow shines showing that Rogers isn't the only one who can take down a group of villains and — at times — serves as a brief comic relief, but ultimately fills the need for a superheroine for girls to identify with.
Kids are going to want an action figure of The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) after watching him dive off buildings and soar through the skies.
Marvel fanboys will be delighted with Stan Lee's appearance in the film's final leg while "Community" fans will recognize actor Danny Pudi in a brief cameo.
The Winter Soldier — who the film revolves around — is *spoiler* not out right villainous. If you're a fan of the comics, you probably already know his real identity. Rather, he's been brain-washed and we're supposed to empathize with him.
This is one thing you need to credit Marvel and Disney for. They've been able to bring villains to the big screen who have in-depth character stories and aren't just your typical bad guy. (Look no further than Loki.)
If you've seen Disney's box-office juggernaut "Frozen," there's a scene near the end of "Captain America 2" that parallels the climactic moment in the animated film. No, no one gets "frozen" and aren't any broken hearts, but while "Frozen" places emphasis on the importance of family, "Captain America 2" reinforces the strong bond between friends. *spoiler*
My main issue with "The Winter Soldier" is one thing that always bothers me while watching any standalone Marvel movie since "The Avengers"— and that I imagine may bother other moviegoers. When there's a catastrophic event occurring none of the superheroes think to call up one of their new friends. Sure, the incidents in "Iron Man 3" and "Thor 2" are (slightly) more isolated; however, the danger in "Captain America 2" is pretty worldly. There are plenty of times Iron Man gets name dropped throughout the film and there's even a scene with someone exiting Stark Industries, but no one ever suggests consulting him.
Obviously, all of the Avengers cannot appear in every movie, but it's the one item that is repeatedly never addressed that slightly affects the fluidity of the entire series. At this point, any name drops become more of a tease than a nod to the larger Marvel universe.
Ultimately, “The Winter Soldier” is one of the most believable Marvel movies (as believable as a superhero movie is going to get). In “Iron Man 3” you get self-destructing humans injected with a top-secret serum and in “Thor 2” we follow an alien villain who wants to make the world dark for questionably unknown reasons. Instead, we're following the politics of a corrupt secret agency.
Unlike the first the film which clearly sets the wheels in motion for "The Avengers" sequel "The Winter Soldier" is a great standalone that should easily deliver one of the top-opening weekends for the month of April.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is in theaters Friday.
Check out a trailer below: