Comics · TV & Movies

Review: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

Some spoilers, mostly minor.


I’ve been seeing a lot of people say Winter Soldier is the best Marvel movie. I wouldn’t go that far — nothing here blew my mind — but it was pretty darn good.

The Plot:

Captain America was my least favorite Phase One Marvel movie, for the simple reason that the plot pacing was nonexistent. I am a stickler for pacing. That problem was fixed here… There are a lot of elements and subplots, but they’re balanced well. I was never confused, but I never felt like I was being lead through it either. Some of the dialogue was less than artful, the movie’s anti-surveillance message is waaaay out there in the open, but at the same time that’s a totally on-point discussion to be having and I didn’t feel like it was so heavy-handed as to be ineffective or unrealistic.

I like that the movie follows through on that discussion and actually allows changes to be made, rather than just playing with it and then returning to the status quo. I’ll have to catch up on the last few episodes of Agents of Shield before Tuesday, because a lot of stuff went down with Shield in this movie and I want to see the fallout. I won’t give details, but I will say that I’ve only read a smattering of Marvel comics so I don’t know if this movie’s content follows any particular storyline, but it does seem very Marvel-ish in tone and treatment of its superheroes.

As I expected, the Winter Soldier himself is more of a subplot than a supervillain. In the title and the trailers, he serves to distract the audience from the heavier discussions and main plot of the movie. I’m okay with that, because he’s still awesome, and an important subplot for Cap himself. On the whole, this movie really let Cap shine. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but he’s not squeamish. He’s honest, but that doesn’t mean he’s weak — he has a commitment to the truth. His super-soldier skills are on display throughout the movie, hopefully proving his worth to all y’all who thought he was superflous in the Avengers. Honestly, the man fights like a dancer and he knows how to arrange his troops.

The Characters:

There was such a great female presence in this movie! Black Widow is a vital and constant element, Agent Hill is great, and there’s another cool female agent. All three of them are distinctly different women without being stereotypes of anything, all three of them have serious commitments to their work, and none of them are shown in superfluous states of undress. (Not shown in states of undress at ALL, as far as I remember.)

Various ladies are suggested as romantic partners for Cap, but it’s done in a natural and mutual way. (The suggestion is simply that he might enjoy having a social life, not that women will faint all over him or that he deserves a “reward” or anything.) There’s no indication from anyone that because there are women in the movie, one of them must sleep with Cap at some point. They’re there to do actual significant things which they have chosen to do, which matter to the fate of the world, actually.

Beyond all that, there’s a consistent female presence in all the group shots: working on computers, working in Shield, being Shield agents, being henchpeople, being on the World Security Council, attending group meetings of military veterans, just being everywhere, and all completely not sexualized. That’s just totally awesome.

There are two prominent characters of color in Nick Fury and Sam/Falcon, both of whom are amazeballs. In addition, I don’t know how well they qualify as characters with disabilities, but Nick Fury has his eyepatch and the Winter Soldier has a totally rad prosthetic arm.

Winter Soldier arm

Several Spoilery Questions:

Where was Tony Stark? Cap and Natasha are running around trying to get someone to help them hide/decrypt some super-secret programming, and they don’t even try to contact Tony? Especially after he was the one suspicious of Shield in Avengers in the first place? He could’ve been a big help.

More importantly, if Hill was always going to blow up the helicarriers after Steve was clear, why go through all that brouhaha to reprogram them first? I could understand if they didn’t WANT to blow them up, it looks like they did a ton of damage falling out of the sky and who knows how many crewmembers were killed, but that is clearly not the case. Blowing them up was part of the plan.


Aside from the Tony Stark question, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World both did a good job of keeping the other heroes out of the equation in a believable way. In TDW only a few minutes of serious action happened on Earth. In Winter Soldier, most of it’s secret, so again the big fight only takes up a few minutes. I don’t know where Hawkeye was, but the others probably wouldn’t have known or been able to get there in time.

I prefer the crazier end of Marvel, with gods and magic and aliens, so maybe that’s why I don’t think this is the greatest Marvel movie yet. All the same, it is really good, and satisfying on many levels. It’s packed with action, but thoughtful too, and it’s not afraid to make big changes. The characterization is all spot-on, and the pace is good. Go see it and let me know what you think!



Loki Fights Like a Girl

Review: Ms. Marvel #1

Review: “Thor: The Dark World”

20 thoughts on “Review: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

  1. They didn’t blow the helicarriers up, they reprogramment them so that they would target each other. Before all the chips were in place, they couldn’t issue the order.


  2. The overhanging question of “Where were all the other heroes?” is probably the biggest flaw of a shared universe, both in the comics and the movies. It’s also one that we’re all going to have to stop asking ourselves if it conflicts with our enjoyment of whatever medium we’re experiencing.

    Tony Stark et al. weren’t present because they weren’t necessary to the story they wanted to tell. They can keep explaining it away [like Thor not going to Jane in The Avengers], but that seems like a waste of time when it’s something we could all just get used to.


    1. You have a point that we probably will get used to it, but I do feel like it could’ve been handled differently since we’re still in the very early stages of a shared universe. Not every hero’s absence has to be explained – the absence of Thor or Hulk is entirely natural here, for instance – but I just felt like Stark would be the natural person to ask in this specific instance, since he was suspicious of Shield already and might well have more information and probably could’ve accessed the thumb drive quickly. Just my opinion. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


  3. I think your first line sums up what I’ve read about this movie. I’ll see it eventually. I like your question: Where was Tony Stark? Haha, they started the crossovers and now look what everyone expects. Cheers.


    1. Heh, yep. Give us Robert Downey Jr. once, we want him every time.

      Honestly I just wish they would’ve explained it. One line is all I want: “We tried to contact Stark but Shield is blocking us.” That’s all!


  4. I couldn’t read it. I want to see it first. But here’s some funny. I was just at Therefore I Geek and they also have a review. If I can find one more by a blogger I trust enough to link to without reading, I’ll have enough links for a roundup. (and lol, wouldn’t that be great – “Three reviews of Winter Soldier that I have not read” What a beautiful headline, hehe.)


  5. I really enjoyed this movie, although I wouldn’t hold Captain America over any other of the Marvel movies except for the Hulk. What loved most about this movie was Black Widow. She was not only in the movie, but she shined, kicked ass and was a real hero. She was able to do that without being in a romantic relationship, naked or stereotypically girly. She was just her awesome self.

    All I want from life now is a great Black Widow movie (assuming they were to make her character just as awesome)


    1. I think this was a kind of trial run for a solo Black Widow movie. Give her a lead part in this one and see how people respond. Judging from the internet people loved her, so I’m optimistic! (They just have to make sure it’s not a prequel. Finding out what happens NEXT is a big part pf the MCU’s momentum, I have a feeling a prequel would throw that off and then everyone would say “Look, the Black Widow movie didn’t do nearly as well as the others…)


  6. WHERE WAS TONY STARK INDEED!! Or Hawkeye, for that matter. That was the major bother for me, too, haha 🙂 I loved the inclusion of Bucky, I thought that was the perfect counterpart to the Captain, and even Black Widow – who I’m not usually a huge fan of – really shined this time.

    Great review Hannah! 😀


    1. Thanks! I really loved Bucky in this one. Somebody told me he was contracted for SEVEN movies, so I have really high hopes for his arc! Couldn’t strand Black Widow in Iron Man 2, I think she was just there for titillation, but since Avengers she’s really developed into a complicated character and I like that.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s