Critics Salute ‘Captain America’ as One of Marvel’s Best Yet
It doesn't hit theaters for another two weeks, but reviews are already coming in for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the third installment in Marvel's Phase Two (following "Iron Man 3" and "Thor: The Dark World") and the second standalone adventure of the red, white and blue-clad super soldier (Chris Evans).
So far, critics are almost unanimously saluting the film directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (best known for their solid TV work on "Community" and "Arrested Development") from a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (who also penned last fall's "Thor: The Dark World"). In fact, Armon Warmann of HeyUGuys calls it "Marvel's best standalone film yet and easily the best representation of the character on screen thus far."
"Cap 2" has been hyped as more of a "political thriller" than a "superhero movie" seemingly since its inception, and it's a plot-and-tone gamble that seems to have paid off for Marvel. Alonso Duralde of The Wrap is impressed as "the corporations behind one of the most lucrative series in contemporary cinema dare to step outside of their safety zone" in creating a film that feels "downright subversive" as it "bounds along excitingly, keeping viewers guessing, launching some successful switcheroos and bringing real stakes to the game."
Emma Dibdin of Digital Spy finds this approach puts "The Winter Soldier" in a league of its own as a film "tonally distinct from its Marvel forerunners, more spy thriller than superhero sequel." Edward Douglas of ComingSoon.net agrees, saying the film "gains huge points by working as a standalone movie set in the world of espionage and world politics that's different enough from previous Marvel movies to be more accessible for non-comic fans than anything Marvel's done thus far."
Mark Adams at Screen Daily concurs and actually finds "Cap 2" somewhat unrecognizable in comparing it to its Marvel movie predecessors, saying that "without the larger-than-life 'superhero' element its storyline could as easily have been a 'Bourne' movie as it ruminates on identity, loyalty and betrayal while also layering in a goodly amount of gunfire, explosions and general mayhem."
The players in this deadly game are getting high marks as well, with Scott Foundas of Variety praising the film's leading man ("Evans excels at showing us the melancholy soul beneath the gleaming Pepsodent smile") and Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter approving of the "very good chemistry" between Evans and co-star Scarlett Johansson, with banter that's "charged with a fun flirtatiousness."