I want to preface this by saying that I thought the first Captain America film was the weakest out of all of the Phase One Marvel films. The dialogue was cheesy, the CGI was iffy at times, and I just had a hard time liking Chris Evans. 

The Winter Soldier is a far superior movie, and by far one of the best Marvel movies to date. You also don’t really need to have too much familiarization with the first film in order to find entertainment out of the sequel.

We pick up as Steve Rogers, or Captain America, is still trying to adapt to the new century. He throws himself into helping his country, never really finding anything to make him happy. His work is the only thing that he has. He has no real friends, no relationships, no hobby’s. He spends his free time sneaking into museum exhibits about himself and reminiscing about the past. The plot starts to pick up after SHIELD is compromised from the inside and nobody can be trusted anymore, sending the Captain and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) off as fugitives in order to solve what is going on within the agency. 

Chris Evans does a better job in this one than he did in the first. He is more conflicted and has a lot more on his plate other than leading a platoon in World War II. He has 70 years of history to catch up on, and he is technically 95 years old. Surprisingly though, we are not given a glimpse at how the events in the Avengers affected him like we did with Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. 

Scarlett Johansson has a much more substantial role in this film than in the others. She has quite a lot of screen time, and is essentially the Captain’s sidekick. We are given a little insight into her past and we can see the effects of her actions in life more clearly now. Oh, and she is still her kick-ass self. 

Anthony Mackie plays Sam Wilson, better known as The Falcon. He offers comedy and heart, especially when talking about coming home from the war. 

Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role of Nick Fury, the leader of SHIELD. The country is still experiencing the ramifications of what happened in New York in The Avengers movie. The film mirrors the whole NSA controversy quite well, and it is obviously poking fun at that situation. The plot, probably a little more complex than most of the Marvel films thus far, does get a little convoluted at one point, but it does end up making sense by the end. 

The movie also stars Robert Redford in a rare blockbuster role for him. He plays a senior agent of SHIELD who definitely has his secrets. Coming off of All is Lost, it is nice to hear him actually talk in a movie. 

What surprises me most about this movie, other than the fact that it has Redford, is how dark and serious it is in tone compared to other Marvel films as of late. Where other Marvel movies rely more on humor and lightheartedness, this one feels more like a spy-film than a superhero movie. I think this is going to be a continuing trend because the new Avengers is supposedly going to be even darker.

But the most important thing about the new Captain America is how much of an impact the events of it will have on the rest of the Marvel Universe. The repercussions of the final battle scene of the film as well as the post-credit scenes will play a much bigger role than simply assembling the Avengers. There is a new enemy and things will no longer be the same after this film. 

The action and fight scenes in this movie are also fantastic. Much better than the ones in the first one. They also feel a bit more realistic since the Captain doesn’t have a magic hammer or a metal suit that shoots lasers. It is downright brutal at times, and the explosions and gun fights are even better at times. 

So, if you are getting antsy for the new Avengers movie, are a fan of comic books, or just want to see a great action movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has enough to satisfy anyone who goes to see it. It truly raises the bar for superhero movies to come.