Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford
While the solo MCU projects have been of varying tones and quality, the Captain America films are always the biggest and most epic of them all. With The First Avenger, we got a sprawling origin story-turned-World War II period piece that brought the Captain America story to life. The third film in the series, Civil War, pulled out all of the stops and brought a number of your favorite characters (as well as some long-awaited ones) into the mix without feeling too heavy-handed. But The Winter Soldier? Not only is it hands down the best Captain America film that has been made, but it is the best thing to come out of the MCU.
The story finds Captain America not trusting what S.H.I.E.L.D. is shoveling, and he has reason to after his boy (and the architect of the Avengers) Nick Fury is taken out. While on the run with secrets about who’s really running S.H.I.E.L.D., Cap is pursued by The Winter Soldier, an assassin from Cap’s past who has been brainwashed into taking out numerous targets for years. The battle sequences are phenomenal, but it’s the overall pacing of the film that really wins. For a movie that clocks in at 136 minutes, it never feels dull. The chemistry between a still-acclimating Cap and Black Widow feels genuine, even if they don’t totally trust each other. The introduction of Falcon is solid, with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) comfortably sliding into his role as Cap’s ride-or-die. And while this is more of a solo film, the ripples touch all corners of the MCU: S.H.I.E.L.D.’s demise is very real, and the spark of Cap's distrust in authority comes to fruition in Civil War, which is a larger look at the role superheroes take in the world. Watching Winter Soldier, you find yourself asking why all Marvel movies can’t be like this. —khal