Alright, let’s start this review off with a truth-in-reviewing disclaimer of sorts. We’ve been reading comics (specifically Marvel Comics) for some 50 years, so we’re going to go just a little bit fanboy over this film, and call it perhaps the best comicbook movie yet made (yep, better that Spider-Man, better than Dark Knight, better than Avengers). OK, now let’s get to it.
Continuing in the Marvel Movie universe, it is after the cataclysmic events that occurred in New York with the Avengers; and Steve Rogers, A.K.A. Captain America (Evans), is living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world between assignments with S.H.I.E.L.D. As the film opens we see Steve taking laps around the Washington Mall (repeatedly lapping Sam Wilson (Mackie) with whom he briefly chats and the is picked up by the Black Widow (Johansson) to go off on a S.H.I.E.L.D. assignment.
The assignment itself causes Steve to question his place in the modern world as well as with S.H.I.E.L.D., whose methodology he also questions. However, Nick Fury (Jackson) himself comes under attack, and Steve’s loyalty (to both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the country) become questioned, he steps up to the plate and does what he always does, that is to say, slips easily into the role of Captain America. Yet, by doing so, he, the Widow, and Wilson (who those of us fanboys already know is The Falcon) become embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk.
With the three of these heroes joining forces, and with Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. playing such an important role in this film, it becomes more than just another Cap film, more than just a comicbook superheroes-in-spandex film, but a true Tom Clancy-level espionage film full of intrigue and subterfuge (Oh hell, they even got Robert Redford (Three days of the Condor) to star in the film!). The basis for this story can be found in the complex histories of the comicbook versions of these characters (so we really no longer want to hear how comics are “kiddy fare” because this stuff is one seriously involved storyline, and the folks that have been behind the Marvel films over the past 10 years or so truly understand that, know what they are doing, and actually respect the source material, which is what gives these films the credibility to cause them to be able to reach beyond those of us aging fanboys who still read them).
Now, Cap, the Black Widow, and the Falcon struggle to expose the ever-widening net of conspiracy that is attempting to undermine S.H.I.E.L.D. while fighting off professional assassins who have been tasked with silencing them at every turn. Soon enough, the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, and the trio of heroes (backed up by a small group of loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents) find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy; the Winter Soldier (Stan), who is a very mysterious assassin who is working for the nefarious forces who are behind this nefarious subterfuge. (Again, those of us who have read the comics already know who Winter Soldier is; the rest of you will simply have to wait.)
Again, this is an amazing film, one that very successfully combines the continuity and mythos of the comics with that of the films weaving an amazing compelling and thrilling story that totally captivates the audience. Oh, and in case you are wondering, yes, it also ties in quite well with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show (agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández) appears in the TV series and is called away to play a pivotal role in the film). Plus there are two (yes two) Easter Egg trailers at the end of the film (one after the main credits that leads to the next Avengers film, and a second all the way at the conclusion of all of the credits, that is absolutely crucial for future Captain America films so you better hang around to check them both out, you won’t be sorry.
Oh yeah, one last thing, if you enjoyed this film on any level, we strongly suggest that you locate a comicbook shop near you and check it out for the source material for these films. You totally will thank me.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.