Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released on April 4th, 2014. Coming off two of what I consider giant letdown films in the MCU, I was praying to god that this movie wouldn’t stink. The Avengers was wildly successful in teaming up all our favorite heroes, only for Phase Two to split them back up into individual roles and bringing us pretty much back to square one. After whatever the hell Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World were, I was starting to become a bit skeptical that this series was finally starting to lose steam. Boy oh boy was I wrong.
The film starts off with Steve Rogers out for a brisk morning run in Washington, D.C. He’s constantly lapping Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie) who can’t match Cap’s speed. After a brief rest, Wilson tells Cap he works at the VA and that he’s a former soldier himself and asks Cap to stop by at some point, which Cap agrees to. Black Widow pulls up in a car to tell Cap he’s needed for a mission and they take off.
Somewhere overseas, Cap and Black Widow are in a military jet and discuss the mission at hand. They need to board a freighter that is operated by SHIELD that has been taken over by pirates. The freighter contains key information that is critical to SHIELD that Black Widow is tasked with recovering, unbeknownst to Captain himself. A large fight ensues with Cap rescuing the hostages and them barely escaping alive.
A little pissed that he wasn’t told about the true nature of the mission, Rogers returns to D.C. to confront Nick Fury at SHIELD headquarters. He’s still a bit untrusting after the events of The Avengers and doesn’t fully believe SHIELD has the right intentions, regardless of what they claim. Fury explains to Rogers that times have changed and he better get with the program if he is to remain apart of SHIELD. In a show of good faith, Fury let’s Rogers see what SHIELD is currently working on: Project Insight, which is essentially three massive Hellicarriers that are tasked with eliminating threats before they even happen.
After Rogers takes off, Fury tries to review the data obtained by Black Widow and is denied access. Questioning why he was overridden, he begins to suspect that something is going on behind that scenes at SHIELD and he becomes a bit suspicious. He brings his suspicions to Secretary Pierce, the political figurehead of SHIELD played by Robert Redford. Pierce tells him theres nothing to worry about (sure Redford, whatever you say).
We’re then given what is one of the best scenes in Marvel cinematic history. Watch and enjoy.
Fury’s escape is then stopped by The Winter Soldier himself and he barely escapes just in the nick of time.
We cut to Rogers entering his apartment, only to find Fury sitting there listening to some old records. He is badly injured, and warns Rogers that he shouldn’t trust anyone and that SHIELD has been compromised. Fury gives Rogers the data that Black Widow obtained. Just then, Fury is shot through the walls of Roger’s apartment by The Winter Soldier.
At the hospital, Fury is pronounced dead in front of Cap, Black Widow, and Maria Hill. Black Widow asks Rogers why Fury was in his apartment and he doesn’t truthfully answer. Cap is then summoned to SHIELD headquarters to speak with Secretary Pierce. Taking Fury’s advice, he hides the flash drive of information in a vending machine in the hospital before departing. At his meeting at SHIELD, Pierce not so subtly accuses Cap of knowing more than he is letting on, and labels him an enemy of SHIELD. On Rogers way out of SHIELD headquarters, he’s ambushed in yet another amazing scene from this film and the MCU as a whole.
After his escape, Rogers returns to the hospital to retrieve the flash drive only to find it missing, but luckily taken by Black Widow. They then travel to an Apple Store together (groan) to try and unlock a bit more information. They uncover a secret military installation in New Jersey where Captain was originally trained. Underneath the base, they discover a hidden room that is filled with antique computers and technology which is revealed to be recreation of Zola from Cap 1’s brain? (Yeah, this is the one thing in this movie that has me a little confused) Computer Zola pretty much tells Cap and Black Widow that HYDRA has been infiltrating SHIELD for the last half a century. Just then a missile strikes the base, destroying it and nearly killing Cap and Black Widow.
After another run in with the The Winter Soldier, it is revealed that he is in fact Bucky Barnes, Steve’s long thought dead best friend. They are captured by HYDRA agents and taken to Pierce. In transit, Maria Hill is discovered to be posing as one of the HYRDA agents and busts them out of captivity. She brings them to a secret base, where we see Nick Fury, alive and well. He faked his own death because he wasn’t sure who he could trust (Sure, whatever, i’ll let it slide).
The World Security Council shows up to SHIELD headquarters for a demonstration of Project Insight. Captain America gets on the loudspeaker and announces to all SHIELD employees that HYDRA has taken over, with Pierce being their leader. Gunfire ensues as the employees quickly take sides. The Hellicarriers are launched and Cap and Black Widow attempt to take back control, with The Winter Soldier waiting for them on board. Cap is convinced Bucky remembers who he is, with Bucky trying his hardest to not let on that he’s right. The Hellicarriers are destroyed and as they are crashing, Bucky saves Cap and places him along the shoreline before he walks into the proverbial sunset.
SHIELD is disbanded after the dust settles. Fury burns his eye patch and heads to Europe to track down more HYDRA bases, Maria Hill takes a job with Stark Industries, and Cap and Wilson set out in search of Bucky.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the exact moment in the MCU for me that things went from good to great. It is living proof that the stand alone films still work, even after Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World pretty much stunk up the place. The film almost felt like a Bourne movie, as opposed to just another cookie cutter entry of a Marvel film. To this day it remains one of my favorite films in the series.
Final verdict: 9 out of 10