Captain America: 10 Reasons The Winter Soldier Is Cap’s Best Solo Movie


After Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers established the MCU’s Steve Rogers as a jingoistic goody two-shoes, Marvel fans weren’t particularly excited for his next solo movie, The Winter Soldier, which promised to hark back to ‘70s political thrillers. But against the odds, the Russo brothers knocked it out of the park, doing such a great job that they secured a job directing Marvel movies right up to Avengers: Endgame.

Cap suddenly became one of the most popular superheroes in the world and his subsequent big-screen adventures excited fans a lot more than they previously did. But The Winter Soldier is still, by far, his greatest solo movie.

10 The Winter Soldier Is Cap’s Best Villain

Although Red Skull is Captain America’s arch nemesis in the comics, his greatest villain in the movies is the Winter Soldier. Every great villain has a personal connection to the hero, and there’s no connection more personal than childhood best friend. The twist here is that Bucky – who Cap thought had been dead for years – has been brainwashed, so he doesn’t know the guy he’s trying to kill is his pal.

Cap’s greatest asset in combat is his vibranium shield, which can be countered by Bucky’s bionic arm, making him the perfect physical match.

9 It’s Just Dark Enough

Like most blockbuster sequels, from The Dark Knight to The Empire Strikes Back, The Winter Soldier is much darker in tone than its predecessor.

A lot of pessimistic movies about optimistic characters, like Man of Steel and Fant4stic, can get bogged down in their dark tone and become too dark to be an ingenuous adaptation of their source material. But the Russos have a strong enough command of the tone of The Winter Soldier to avoid this. It never gets too dark to be a satisfying Captain America movie.

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8 Cap Is Surrounded By Lovable Supporting Characters

Every major Avenger has a supporting cast around them in their solo movies. Cap has one of the best supporting casts, introduced in The Winter Soldier. After all Cap’s friends died or aged exponentially in The First Avenger, he made new friends in the present day in the sequel.

In addition to his S.H.I.E.L.D. cohorts Natasha Romanoff and Nick Fury, Steve forged a strong friendship with fellow veteran Sam Wilson that would last for the rest of the Infinity Saga.

7 The Russos Utilized Cap’s Powers For Incredible Action Sequences

While The First Avenger director Joe Johnston used Cap’s super strength for some generic fight scenes, the Russos utilized his full bank of powers for some of the most incredible action sequences in recent blockbuster memory in The Winter Soldier.

From fighting an elevator full of agents to jumping out of a plane without a parachute to singlehandedly taking down a Hydra jet with just his shield and motorcycle, The Winter Soldier is chock full of spectacular Cap action.

6 It Doesn’t Overuse Bathos

One of the main problems with the MCU is its overuse of bathos – in other words, undermining dramatic moments with humor – but that problem isn’t prevalent in The Winter Soldier.

The dramatic moments are allowed to stay dramatic without worrying that audiences will be too cool to care about the characters, and it works wonders.

5 Cap’s Black-And-White View Of The World Is Challenged

At his core, Captain America has a very black-and-white worldview. He knows good when he sees it and he knows bad when he sees it and he believes that it is the duty of good to fight bad. On paper, the logic of this ideology is sound.

However, the world isn’t that simple. In The Winter Soldier, Cap’s simplistic worldview is challenged and he’s forced to confront the ugly cost of his personal liberties.

4 The Twist-Heavy Storytelling Keeps The Narrative Engaging

Every few minutes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier bowls over audiences with a major plot twist, from Nick Fury faking his death to S.H.I.E.L.D. being a front for Hydra for the past 70 years to the assassin hunting Steve being a brainwashed Bucky.

In many superhero blockbusters, the plot is the last thing on the audience’s mind as they forget the MacGuffin instantly and just follow the movie from set piece to set piece. The Winter Soldier’s twist-heavy storytelling keeps the plot surprisingly engaging.

3 It Successfully Harks Back To ‘70s Political Thrillers

Since the entries in the MCU are often criticized for being the same movie over and over again, the studio has tried to make each movie fit into its own genre construct. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t work out. Ant-Man doesn’t ring true as a heist movie, while Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t earnest enough to be the John Hughes-esque high school comedy it wants to be.

In the hands of the Russo brothers (and genre staple Robert Redford), Captain America: The Winter Soldier successfully harks back to the political thrillers of the ‘70s, updating their post-Watergate paranoia for the drone warfare era.

2 The Final Line Leaves The Movie On A Beautiful Note

All of Cap’s solo movies have the perfect endings, from the “I had a date” line in The First Avenger to Steve singlehandedly breaking his friends out of the Raft in Civil War.

The final line of The Winter Soldier ends the movie on a beautiful note. Steve is about to embark on his search for Bucky and tells Sam he doesn’t have to come. In a moment that never fails to raise a smile, Sam replies, “I know. When do we start?”

1 Steve Rogers Gets A Perfect Character Arc

Steve Rogers’ eight-year MCU character arc saw him being frozen in World War II, struggling to adjust to the modern world, and hanging up his shield and retiring to his own time to spend his life with Peggy Carter after saving the universe from its most despicable adversary.

The movie with the most complete self-contained arc for Steve is, without a doubt, The Winter Soldier, which focuses on his difficulties adapting to life in the 21st century. Through his betrayal by S.H.I.E.L.D. and his friendships with Sam, Nat, and Fury, Steve learns to trust his own instincts.

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About The Author

Ben Sherlock (3486 Articles Published)

Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, independent filmmaker, and Burt Reynolds enthusiast. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant. He’s currently in pre-production on his first feature (and has been for a while, because filmmaking is expensive). You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop.

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