I’ve had the urge to rewatch ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ for a while. I feel like I didn’t give it enough attention the first time around, and with ‘Civil War’ drawing ever closer, a refresh on all things Phase II was the only way to go. Heralded as one of the best Marvel films, with popular opinion advocating the titular villain as the best in the MCU too, I had faith that I would appreciate this film even more the second time around.

After the events which decimated New York in ‘Avengers Assemble’, the world, and in particular S.H.I.E.L.D, are very wary of potential threats to the planet’s safety and freedom. Captain America (Chris Evans) starts to discover missions taking place behind his back and questions the integrity of Director Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D’s motives. When Fury digs a little deeper, he is attacked by a mysterious assailant and Cap becomes a fugitive, intent on bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D and its sinister vision for the future.

Chris Evans has become somewhat of an icon in his role as Captain America, and it’s easy to see why. He personifies, with so little effort, the qualities of virtue, bravery, leadership and likeability that are synonymous with Cap. Whilst Iron-Man may be more immediately impressive, there can be no doubt that Cap really is the best member of The Avengers. I get the feeling that Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans have a good off-screen relationship. Their on-screen chemistry is brilliant, and the action scenes her Black Widow character delivers, is further evidence that she NEEDS her own film, or at least a TV spin-off like so many are calling for. Anthony Mackie enters the MCU as Sam Wilson AKA Falcon – a really convincing, typical American good guy, but with wings.

The pièce de résistance, the thing that makes this movie so great, is of course The Winter Soldier himself. The villain is absolutely crucial to a superhero film, you get that wrong and the whole thing collapses. The reincarnation of Cap’s old pal Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), is a ferocious killing machine, with a menacing appearance and a haunting apathy behind the eyes. The moment you first see this guy upending Fury’s car, and later catching Cap’s shield with his bionic arm, is just spine-tingling. As opposed to some absurd, out of this world, comic book villains, he is a relatively realistic character, which just adds to the ominous aura surrounding his arrival. I look forward to (hopefully) seeing him on screen again.

The cheesy, break-the-ice tone of ‘The First Avenger’ is LONG gone. These two films are worlds apart in terms of style, tone and more importantly, quality. ‘The Winter Soldier’ is much, much darker, far more liberal with its bloodshed and more keen on intense dogfights and gun-slinging than its predecessor. The general consensus then, was right: ‘The Winter Soldier’ as a film is up there as one of the best in the MCU. Not only is it thrilling and action-packed, but it is also a crucial stepping stone in our journey through the MCU story; a must-see for anyone wanting to get on board with The Avengers

Rating: 8.3/10

Director(s): Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford, Samuel L Jackson