the first Captain America movie was, this one is even better. Having two directors, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, was not a case of too many cooks ruining the broth. The plot for the movie is quite intricate and complex, a political thriller, that I won't attempt to paraphrase here. An excellent script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Suffice to say, at the heart of the movie is political intrigue, lots of superb action scenes, and two best friends who find themselves on opposing sides. This movie will also have far reaching consequences for all the other Marvel Studios movies (not to mention the Agents of SHIELD TV series), as SHIELD is severely compromised.
The opening action sequence uses Cap's comic book villain Batroc. Cap's partner from the 1970s, The Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, is introduced in a very well crafted role. Also introduced from the comics is SHIELD agent 13 (payed by Emily Van Camp). The Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) co-stars from The Avengers, in a very well written role. The film also features Robert Redford, one of the biggest movie stars (although not necessarily the best actor) to ever appear in a superhero movie (along with Brando and Nicholson). Samuel L Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury, in what is without a doubt, that character's best written role out of all the Marvel movies Fury has appeared in. Of course, Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers. It's hard to imagine less than a decade ago, he was doing a Chris O'Donnell imitation as The Human Torch. As Steve Rogers, he brought to the role multiple layers, such as courage, integrity, humor, and vulnerability. When Steve goes to the Smithsonian Institute to look at the Captain America exhibit because he feels lost in the present, it is both heartbreaking and humorous. It is no secret the Winter Soldier is Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan). When Captain America realises it's Bucky, Evans plays it well, not going over the top, but giving it just enough emotion.
The action sequences are very well crafted. The opening scene with Batroc. The Nick Fury car chase. The elevator scene. Cap vs the Winter Soldier. The movie is almost like an action highlight reel. In contrast, Man of Steel seemed too loud, too numbing, too much. In regards to action scenes, Winter Soldier is the true successor to The Dark Knight.
Curiously, Evan's costume from The Avengers was not used at all, perhaps because it looked a little too much like a throwback to Christopher Reeve era tights. Instead, for the first part of the movie, Cap has an almost all navy blue SHIELD version of his costume. In the middle part of the movie, he's in civvies, and for the end, he goes back to his World War II era combat fatigues costume (featuring another cameo by Stan Lee).
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, plain and simple, is a great movie, and blew Man of Steel and The Dark Knight Rises out of the water. With Evans, the Russo bothers, and Markus & McFeely set to return, and Captain America 3 slated to be released on the same day as Man of Steel 2 aka Batman Vs Superman, I think Warner Brothers and Zack Snyder have good reason to be worried.