Unfortunately, while those present-day issues are mentioned there’s not much resolution to those narrative themes. And by the end of the film it becomes quite muddled to what kind of position the film was trying to take. But ultimately I do give the Russo brothers props for weaving in current political issues – that at the very least – gives the appearance of a more believable world.
Another red-flag of most MCU films is the lack of compelling villains. The last two films, Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 have really suffered from not creating lasting and threatening villains. That’s mostly true again with Captain America 2. (I say mostly because there is at least one provocative antagonist in the film). Sadly, the rest of the villains in the movie are just not that interesting or threatening.
This film has Winter Soldier in the title and as the movie’s main antagonist he is severely lacking in screen time. The movie presents him in a very convoluted yet uninteresting manner. I’m sorry, but the mindless unstoppable assassin is a tired trope. The battle between Captain America and The Winter Soldier should have been a big emotional encounter but it just doesn’t work as well as it was intended. Additionally there is another bad guy in the film that fans will recognize from the first Captain America movie. And while he’s crucial to the plot of the film, I just can’t wrap my head around him being a physically dead yet alive artificial intelligent Nazi.
All in all Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a refreshing entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It initially bucks the “comfort cinema” formula of the MCU but cannot escape completely from the predetermined template. Nonetheless the strong performances by the leads coupled with some breathtaking action sequences makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier an upper tier entry into the MCU.
Final grade: B.