The second Captain America film was much anticipated. Chris Evans made an impact as Steve Rogers, the WWII super-soldier, in both his first solo film and Avengers Assemble, but many thought he did not get the screen time he deserved. In fact, many of the deleted scenes from the latter film heavily feature him.
Now we get our chance to relish Evans in the straight-laced role he was made for. We catch up with him a short while after the events of Avengers when he and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) get caught up in a SHIELD conspiracy under the conflicting commands of Director Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a member of the World Security Council.
Compared to the other phase one and two Marvel films, this is the biggest leap of faith yet, with the possible exception of the mythology-based, Kenneth Branagh-led Thor. Using a nostalgic espionage tone takes away the fantastical edge that Marvel is so good at – ending up creating more similarities with DC whose tales are usually more gritty, although The Winter Soldier has a lot more humour.
This tone riffs on the still-current Wikileaks and Edward Snowden debate that’s stuck in the public conscience and it absolutely works to give the film an interesting edge that no others have had.
Frazer agrees: “They all have unique tones and that is part of the fun. You would never confuse a scene from Thor with a scene from Captain America and that is one of the strengths of having such a wide universe.
“That’s why you can have something like Guardians of the Galaxy – it doesn’t really matter that it’s so different as the precedence is for difference.”
He adds: “The Winter Soldier was also very cynical for a blockbuster and very much captured the public zeitgeist in regards to intelligence agencies.
Chris Evans delivered a mixture of spot-on lines from hilarious one-liners to serious, danger-mode talk. He is still inherently likeable, even though his character is the most rigid and easily-mocked Avenger.
His dynamic with Black Widow added something different to this film that made it more fun – especially all their mid-battle chat about dates for Cap – and her presence also reduced the often testosterone-heavy feel of these films.
She genuinely is a strong, independent woman and we still don’t even get to learn that much about her. Frazer described her as a “fun character who works well in an ensemble”.
Speaking of men, though, Anthony Mackie as Falcon adds a breath of fresh air in his enthusiasm and easy rapport with his new teammates. We’ll happily see more of him.
So how does Captain America: The Winter Soldier stand up against all the other Marvel films so far?
Frazer says: “Easily one of the best. I really like Thor, I really like Avengers Assemble. I haven’t actually loved any of the Iron Man films. It is definitely in my top two or three.”
For my part, Iron Man 1 and 3 plus Avengers Assemble are still my favourites so far, but I’m also sure that this latest one will only look better on repeat viewings when the viewer can dive unreservedly in with Cap and his allies and look for clues foreshadowing the big twist.
Our rating: 7.5/10