The Winter Soldier is packed with awesome car chases, fight choreography, meaningful friendships, terrible betrayals, and one line that still gets me every time I watch it. “Who the hell is Bucky?”
The Winter Soldier might be the best movie in the MCU. It’s a catalyst for a storyline that we’re still unravelling in Infinity War. Bucky has an important role to play, and The Winter Solider gives us all the perfect beats to build up the tension we need for these characters.
Captain America must face the fact that Hydra has disguised itself as Shield after all of his work to prevent it in World War 2. He learns that his colleagues keep secrets for a living, and they’re especially good at keeping them from him. Most importantly, Bucky never died when he fell off that train in The First Avenger, and he never thought to look for him.
Chris Evans depicts a conflicted Steve Rogers filled with regret. He’s wrought with the guilt of leaving his best friend behind to face torture and conditioning day after day. That’s a lot to process. It weighs heavily in the film, and it is by far the strongest thread in the MCU.
Captain America’s team is finally developed in this film. I think Natasha, Sam, and Steve have a great dynamic, and I love every scene with Fury and Hill. Who else could you really want on your team? They anchor him throughout, and operate as a unit, and not as disgruntled co-workers (come on, that’s exactly what The Avengers was).
I have issues with the portrayal of Black Widow in the following MCU movies, as I think she is the most spot-on in The Winter Soldier. Okay, yes, they skipped the parts where Natasha and Bucky knew each other before in the KGB, but some decisions have to be made. I think the Russo brothers developed her in such a way that we remember she’s human, who thought she was doing the right thing when she signed up for Shield.
Just like Natasha, Steve loses a lot of trust in The Winter Soldier. That’s not to say that he wasn’t already suspicious after The Avengers, but Alexander Pierce gives him the push he needs. Steve has basic principles he stands by, and technology he doesn’t fully understand won’t blur his ideas of right and wrong. I love this about Steve, and I love it even more when he eventually denounces all nationalities to fight for what is generally right, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
My favorite part of this movie is the Winter Solider reveal. The music that accompanies every scene is haunting, and especially so when you rewatch it. Just knowing how this reveal will effect Steve sends me on an emotional spiral. The scene where Bucky catches the shield, alluding to the future of Bucky as the new Captain America had me going crazy in the theater. There are just so many cool sequences in this movie, I can’t even count them.
Ultimately, this movie succeeds because of how it leverages Bucky and Steve’s relationship. It has you fighting against Bucky because he’s trained Hydra, but cheering for Steve when he’s within an inch of his life saying, “I’m with you til the end of the line.” How do you choose?
Luckily, the Russo brothers know you don’t have to, and give us the most interesting relationship in the MCU. How do you protect your best friend who has been conditioned to killing a number of people, including Tony’s parents? How do you protect innocent citizens who he’s been instructed to kill? You have a civil war with a disgruntled co-worker, and freeze your friend for a year, tops?
Steve is fighting for the friend he knew in New York. He knows that only hearing his name was enough to break the trance and the gives Steve some hope, something worth fighting for throughout this film, Civil War and of course, Infinity War. We get to see Bucky struggle to regain any memory of the man on the bridge, and it’s a striking performance from Sebastian Stan. Ultimately, The Winter Soldier is a story about surviving trauma and the hope of one day coping with it.
The Winter Soldier is not an old fashioned movie about prisoners of war, but it is about the abuse of power, and the influence governments have over people, a concept still in the forefront of our social consciousness.
It sounds cheesy, but Captain America movies have a core of goodness and friendship, and fighting for what’s right. The Winter Soldier is an excellent example of a blockbuster movie that holds onto those core values. Maybe you think Steve Rogers is a character who could be like Superman, a little bland, and too perfect. If The Winter Soldier doesn’t change your mind about that, than maybe Infinity War will.
Captain America and the Winter Soldier will be in Wakanda, and I’m certain it will be amazing, heart wrenching, and I’ll probably cry a lot. I honestly can’t wait to see how they continue Steve and his team’s story in this last installment. If you bring the popcorn, I’ll bring the tissues.
[Photos courtesy of IMDB]