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Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is well underway. With Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World proving that Marvel Studios is growing stronger and stronger, next in line is Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

If I am being honest, Captain America has never really interested me as a character and back in 2011, The First Avenger didn’t really do much to spark an interest. It is safe to say that has changed now after watching The Winter Soldier.

The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) struggling to take to his role in the modern world. Things aren’t made any easier for Rogers when he begins to work out that not everyone can be trusted, whether they work for SHIELD or not.

Rogers also finds a familiar face to be working with the enemy. Old friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who he thought to be dead, shows up as the Winter Soldier and looks to bring an end to SHIELD.

If there was ever a sequel that had a completely different feel to its predecessor then this is it. The First Avenger was a superhero movie set against a World War II backdrop whereas The Winter Soldier is a superhero movie set against a modern day political conspiracy.

The First Avenger was very corny where The Winter Soldier has a much darker tone to it. It all felt a lot more serious than its predecessor and for me that made me take more interest in the character and his story.

That being said, with his involvement being more direct with SHIELD than any of the other Avengers, I felt that Captain America’s story is one that Marvel would have to take extra care with.

The end result is impressive as it would have been easy to get lost in the transition from World War II hero to modern day soldier. Thankfully all loose ends are tied up and it doesn’t take too long until we see Captain America doing what he does best.

The first major set-piece of The Winter Soldier, in which Captain America must rescue a SHIELD vessel from Algerian pirates, is a fast and aggressive action sequence that will assure you Marvel have left old Cap himself in very capable hands.

Those are the hands of Anthony and Joe Russo, the men behind You, Me and Dupree, so I was as shocked as anybody when the action sequences were as good as they were. Special mention must go to the elevator fight scene. You know what’s coming but the tension is built up to great effect.

Chris Evans once again dons the iconic outfit and gives it his all-American best as Captain America however, just like with The First Avenger, the supporting characters are the trump cards brought into play by Marvel.

Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury is bound to get a few cheers and Scarlett Johansson kicking ass as Black Widow will always get the audience going. For me though it is the new characters that work so well.

Firstly, the Winter Soldier is a match for Captain America in every department. Sometimes the villain will be weaker than the hero but to see the evenly matched pair battle it out was pretty spectacular. The scene from the trailer where Captain America throws his shield and it is caught by his adversary still managed to be awesome, even though I had seen it so many times.

Another new character is Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie. Mackie adds quality to the cast and shows once again that he has the ability to bring some comedy to his performance. He also has arguably the best scenes in the action department too, just wait for the final battle to see Falcon in all his glory.

Robert Redford also makes an appearance as Alexander Pierce, a senior figure in SHIELD. Redford’s casting was supposedly a homage to some of his roles in political thrillers from the 1970s. If you don’t think The Winter Soldier feels like an old school political thriller in places, all I can say is stop lying to yourself and it’s got bloody Robert Redford in it!

One thing I found irritating was that it was so predictable who Captain America was and wasn’t going to be able to trust but I suppose that comes naturally in a film like this.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not a game changer for Marvel, it was never meant to be. What it is though is an improvement on the previous solo outing for Cap and the perfect way to whet the appetite for Avengers: Age of Ultron next year.

Speaking of that, I would advise to stick around for a scene during the end credits. It will only add to the anticipation of another superhero team-up next year.

Verdict: 3.5/5

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