POP BACK: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Written By: Tom Sheffield

Following the world changing events of ‘The Avengers’, it’s time for Captain America to go back to his day job as a SHIELD agent in his second solo outing. ‘The Winter Soldier’ has sat at the very top of my MCU favourites list since I first saw it at a midnight screening on the day of its release. It hasn’t budged once. Although, I have a sneaky suspicion that could all change when I go to see ‘Avengers: Infinity War’!

The Winter Soldier’ focuses on Captain Rogers unravelling a dark and dangerous secret within SHIELD as he finds himself on the run with Black Widow and Falcon whilst  they try to uncover who’s really pulling the strings. On a mission to stop the pair is none other than The Winter Soldier himself, Bucky Barnes, who Steve believes is dead after witnessing fall from a train in ‘The First Avenger’.  It’s soon made clear that Bucky is being brainwashed and doesn’t remember Steve, but that doesn’t deter Steve to try get his best friend back – all whilst taking down SHIELD’s ships and exposing it’s secrets!

Steve’s character development from ‘The First Avenger’ to ‘The Winter Soldier’ is truly one of the best in the MCU, along with Tony Stark. Steve goes from a puny little kid in Brooklyn just wanting to join the fight in World War II to fighting aliens from other worlds for a super secret organisation 70 years later. It’s clear in this film that the approach SHIELD wants to take to protect the world frightens him and he believes it’s wrong on every level and that’s why decides to destroy SHIELD, rather than save it. When Steve comes face to, erm, screen with Dr. Arnim Zola, there’s one line of dialogue that really hits hard and the look on Steve’s face is that of anger, disappointment, and sadness –  HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security.”

Whilst we’re still waiting for Black Widow to get her own solo film (a concept that will hopefully soon become a reality now that Jac Schaeffer is penning a script), it was great for to see her get a decent amount of screen time in this film. She partners up with Steve following Fury’s death to help uncover SHIELD’s secrets and this film definitely would not have been complete without her presence. This film is also where we meet future Avengers member Sam Wilson, aka Falcon. Sam is thrown into the mix when Natasha and Steve need a place to lay low, and he offers to help in the fight for truth with the aid of his Falcon wing pack.

This film is shot really well, and contains one of the most memorable fight scenes in the MCU to date. I am of course referring to the elevator scene in which Steve takes down 10 agents in in a matter of seconds, does a sweet kick-flip of his shield, and takes the quickest exit he can find.. the window! The rest of the fight scenes are also well choreographed, especially the first showdown between Bucky and Steve in the street. I love the fact they worked in a quick shot of Bucky wielding Cap’s shield as a little nod to fans of the comics where Bucky holds the mantle of Captain America for a while. Could this also happen in the MCU? With ‘Infinity War’ fast approaching, who knows what the future holds for our heroes!

Henry Jackman’s score for the film is superb and it enhances every scene it plays. For example, when Steve is chasing down The Winter Soldier on the rooftops it just completely sucks you into the chase. The score is quite different to other films in the MCU too, which is definitely a factor for it sitting right at the top of my list. Jackman’s score was critically slammed upon initial release because of his use of electronic sounds (which I absolutely love about it) and many were annoyed it sounded so different to Alan Silvestri’s score from ‘The First Avenger’. The score fits superbly with the tone of the film, which is slightly darker and more grounded than the rest of the MCU, and honestly it’s one of the more memorable scores.

Overall this film ticks all the right boxes and is a standout film amongst the ever-growing catalogue of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I can see why it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and why they might prefer some of the more fun and colourful films over it, but this was everything I wanted and more from Cap’s second solo film, and of course is just a warm up for ‘Civil War’, which again revolves around Steve trying to help Bucky remember who he is. Whilst many would argue ‘Civil War’ should have been an ‘Avengers’ film and not ‘Captain America’, I disagree and feel that it felt like a Captain America story through and through.

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