Let me start by saying that I loved Captain America: The First Avenger. Let me add that I am very critical of comic book movies. Whether you're a fan of the genre or not, you should see this movie. Plot, cast, character development, Easter eggs, visual appeal, and more. It is all in there and it is, make no mistake, EPIC.
This story is all about Cap and it should be. We pick up after the Avengers and Cap is still looking for his place in this world. He is essentially a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative and is working for Nick Fury (Sam Jackson). He is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the agency's motives and ends up caught in the middle of a bigger conspiracy. He is still joined with Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), but doesn't exactly trust her either. Labeled a fugitive and forced to find unlikely allies, Cap must battle himself, the agency designed to protect his country, and the greatest villain he has ever faced. The Winter Soldier. The outcome will rock the existing Marvel Movie Universe.
The casting between Jackson,Evans, and Johansson is truly special. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury in every sense of the word and Scarlet Johansson balances hot with VERY believable ass kicking. It is Chris Evans that truly brings the movie to life. There were people out there who were not crazy about his performance, but he is born to be Cap. He embodies the character physically and did what Ryan Reynolds couldn't do as Green Lantern and Hannibal King. He left the idea of too much comedic silliness at home. Evans shows us Steve Roger's pain and there are times where you feel sorry for the guy. He is a man from a different time and his confusion is really fun to watch.
The supporting cast is possibly the best of any comic book film. Anthony Mackie is awesome and people will fall in love with The Falcon. He helps Cap find himself and becomes a really cool ally. The concept of fitting a guy with wings in the modern world is really done well and makes complete sense. His aerial attack looks fantastic and hopefully they find some room for him in the next Avengers movie. Frank Grillo doesn't disappoint as Brock Rumlow. While he doesn't don the iconic gear, sorry for the spoiler, we do see the foreshadowing and I think it will satisfy.
The story is top notch. It is a political thriller played out by comic book characters. Everything makes sense. The fight scenes are incredible! The opening battle with George St- Pierre's Batroc is a lot of fun and every fight we see with Winter Soldier is amazing. Sebastian Stan plays him like a terminator. Intense and at times looking unstoppable. He is as dark as can be and just leaps right out of the comic lore. He is a great villain and not even the biggest threat in the film.
The film keeps the spirit of the first one, doesn't shy from history, and paints the picture of what the film universe is becoming. It ties in with the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. show and there are plenty of character mentions from the Avengers and beyond. The scenes with Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) are really touching and the wounded warrior sub plot works well. There are post credit scenes that open up the universe even more and you get caught up in the fall out from the events here. There are little cool references to watch for, tons of action, and a strong story. It is a comic book movie that has heart and leaves it's audience hungry for Cap's next adventure. Well played Marvel. Well played.