Don't even really remember why (it was that forgettable for me) but I never was that impressed with the first "Captain America: The First Avenger" movie. As a matter of fact, it's my least favorite Marvel movie till date and in all honesty, all of the Marvel movies are of course entertaining ones but at the same time, that's also all that they are. There are only an handful of truly great ones in my opinion, which are also the only ones that I can watch over and over again. Is "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" one of those movies? Absolutely!
This is not just a very entertaining movie, it's also a genuinely great one, with some good writing and character handling. For the first time I can see Captain America as a truly great and likable superhero but that's not the only character that has been improved in this sequel, in my opinion. Normally characters such as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) feel like a third wheel on the wagon. They are there and they look awesome and of course are played by some wonderful actors but they are usually given nothing but scraps and their feeble story lines and presence usually only distracts from what the movies are truly about. Not in this movie though. In this one they are both a big and important part of the story and I loved how their characters are incorporated and used in the movie.
But there also are some great new additions. The Winter Soldier is an awesome, powerful, new villain for the movie and it's great to see Robert Redford in this, who besides is well cast and fits well into the story. There is a sort of political undertone in the movie, which may sound boring for a big budget superhero, action, flick such as this one but it's actually something thrilling and it provides the movie with plenty of exciting moments and twists.
You may not really realize it but most modern superhero movies really use a sort of grounded approach and that especially goes for this movie as well. Despite all of the fantasy and science-fiction aspects within the story, it still mostly works out as a very grounded and realistic one. Really, this movie makes it seem like all of the events could happen in real life as well, which is part of the reason why this movie manages to work out as an engrossing and engaging one, when it comes down to both its story and characters.
But don't worry, realism, a grounded approach, a political undertone, all of that luckily doesn't mean that there also isn't some good action and other superhero stuff to enjoy in this movie. There is plenty of all of that present throughout the movie and it's a very fast paced one, with a new big and spectacular action sequence around every corner. And I have to say that I really enjoyed the action in this one. I said that it has some big and spectacular action sequences in it but not always necessarily in its scope as well. The movie more often features some 'simple' fight sequences in it, with real stunt-work, as opposed to CG things blowing up and computer animated characters chasing each other around. Again, this also adds to the grounded approach and 'realism' of the movie and in my opinion also works out as something far more spectacular and engaging to the senses.
The one thing I didn't really like about the movie though was how it was trying to tie in to its predecessor at times. It really wasn't always necessary for the story and just simply distracted from what was going on at times. Also remember, that this movie is of course taking place 70 years after the events of the first movie and "The Avengers" basically was the sequel that already filled in most of the gaps and redefined and set up the Captain America character again for the 21st century.
Other than that, I really don't have much to 'complain' or nitpick about. It's simply a both great and enjoyable superhero movie, that works as 'simple' popcorn entertainment as well as a more grounded and engaging type of movie, all at once.