Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Saw this movie a couple of hours ago. Been looking forward to it for some time, and I wasn't disappointed. If you haven't seen it yet, you might want to avoid reading what follows.
For more context on this film, you are welcome to read my Review of Every Marvel and DC Superhero Movie from 1951 to the Present
1. The Story
Steve Rogers continues to adjust to modern life. At the beginning of the film he is still employed by S.H.I.E.L.D. After he and the Black Widow rescue several hostages from mercenaries, a power struggle develops between Nick Fury and Alexander Pierce, his supervisor. Unknown to Fury, Pierce is secretly an agent of Hydra, an organization that has been infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. since its inception. Hydra, acting through S.H.I.E.L.D., intends to eliminate several million "threats" to its goal of world domination, and Rogers must enlist the aid of the Black Widow, Maria Hill, Nick Fury, and his new friend the Falcon to foil the plot. He also has to contend with his former friend Bucky Barnes, now dubbed the Winter Soldier.
2. How It Compares to the First Captain America
This movie is a lot faster paced. Whereas the first one kind of plodded along (albeit intentionally), the action in this film flows seamlessly from beginning to end. The fight scenes are miles ahead of the first movie, and the plot is a lot more intricate. While the first film had an earnestness that I liked, the sequel broods over the fine line between right and wrong. Chris Evans, all American forthrightness in the first film, has a lot more to do in this movie, and there's a sadness about his portrayal of Captain America that's very compelling.
3. How It Compares to Other Marvel Films
My least favorite Marvel Studios film is Thor, and this movie is A LOT better than that one. My second least favorite Marvel Studios film is Iron Man 3, and this movie is still better than that. Taking all of the Marvel Studios films into account, I'd tentatively rank this one fifth, behind The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor 2, and the Incredible Hulk. It's a good movie, but it didn't blow me away.
There are two post-credits scenes. The first features Baron Von Strucker in his lair, discussing the fate of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, whom he has imprisoned. The second involves Bucky going to the Smithsonian, and learning about his past before becoming the Winter Soldier.
I won't discuss in full any connections to previous Marvel films, though there are many references to such films. Iron Man/Tony Stark is probably mentioned the most often.
As for other trivia, some of it might have gotten by me. I did notice that during one scene, when they're interrogating a Hydra agent, the agent mentions that Hydra was targeting a "Stephen Strange," whom comic book fans will know as the alter ego of Doctor Strange. Maria Hill also goes to work for Stark Industries after the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D.
5. What's Coming Next
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the ninth film in Marvel's Cinematic Universe, and the third film in Marvel's "Phase 2" set of films. Guardians of the Galaxy will arrive in August 2014, followed by The Avengers: Age of Ultron in May 2015. After Avengers 2, Marvel will release Ant-Man in July 2015. And after that, probably going head-to-head with Warner Bros. "Batman Vs. Superman," Marvel will release Captain America 3.
6. Related News
Captain America: The Winter Soldier seems to be getting more favorable reviews than both Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. It had a big international release, though the American release is still a few days away.