Summary

  • Chris Evans believes Captain America: The Winter Soldier is his favorite Marvel movie due to its boldness and character development.
  • The film stands out as a high point in the MCU as it helped establish a more grounded action-thriller sub-genre.
  • Future MCU projects like Captain America: Brave New World and Marvel’s Thunderbolts may bring back the character connections that made The Winter Soldier great.



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Captain America actor Chris Evans is absolutely right in his belief that the MCU has yet to top Captain America: The Winter Soldier in a lot of ways. There are plenty of exciting and beloved MCU films including big crossovers such as Avengers: Endgame as well as cosmic adventures like the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. However, Captain America: The Winter Soldier continues to serve as a gold standard for the MCU fandom even 10 years later.


During his recent appearance at Emerald City Comic-Con 2024, Chris Evans spoke about his time working on Captain America: The Winter Soldier in honor of the movie’s 10th anniversary (having released in 2014):

“It’s my personal favorite Marvel movie that I was a part of. It’s not just for the movie itself but the experience. When ‘Winter Solider’ came around, we were playing to win. And it’s the first movie with the Russo Brothers. We were taking more risks, and the character felt more fleshed out. It was one of the more satisfying experiences I’ve had in my Marvel run.”

While there are plenty of other projects that would be in the running for the best MCU movie of all time, there’s very little argument when it comes to TheWinter Soldier being the very best of its MCU sub-category within the grander cinematic universe. While there have been attempts to recreate its success, Captain America: The Winter Soldier has remained one of Marvel Studios’ very best grounded action-thrillers in the MCU (and the future does look bright).


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Captain America: The Winter Soldier Is Still A High Point Of The MCU

Even 10 Years Later

The Winter Soldier with Captain America's shield in Captain America The Winter Soldier

One of the core reasons why Captain America: The Winter Soldier is so popular is its boldness, especially its willingness to deviate and establish an entirely new set of themes and tone compared to Captain America: The First Avenger. Having woken up in the present to immediately be thrown into an alien invasion seen in 2012’s Avengers,The Winter Soldier finally gives the MCU’s audience time to see how Steve Rogers could acclimate to his new surroundings, not only to the modern era but also its more complicated set of values (ex: tensions with SHIELD director Nick Fury).


It’s widely believed The Winter Soldier is one of the best examples of adapting the original comicbook source material while offering a dynamic spin that still honors what’s been seen on the page, specifically when it comes to the dark evolution of Bucky Barnes and his debut as Hydra’s Winter Soldier. While there are moments ripped straight from the page (“Who the hell’s Bucky?”), others are new and unique to the screen as Rogers does his best to reach his brainwashed best friend once he learns the Winter Soldier’s true identity (“I’m with you till the end of the line”).

The MCU Has Tried (And Failed) To Repeat Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Attempts Have Been Made


Captain America: The Winter Soldier effectively established its own sub-genre within the grander MCU as a grounded action/espionage thriller. To that end, there have been attempts to recreate that success since 2014. However, most have missed the mark and have largely failed to varying degrees in the years that have followed the Captain America sequel.

Some of these past MCU attempts are easy to identify, such as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Black Widow, and Secret Invasion. All three of these projects heavily starred characters who were featured in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and all went for a grounded espionage vibe as well. However, none managed to meet or exceed the high levels reached by The Winter Soldier, a film that would heavily inform the MCU’s future as it was the first Marvel movie directed by The Russo Brothers (who went on to direct Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame).

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The MCU Needs Projects Like Captain America: The Winter Soldier

A Grounded And Entertaining Sub-Genre

Steve Rogers fighting Batroc in Captain America The Winter Soldier

One of the most welcome elements of the early MCU was that there was such a dynamic and entertaining contrast between more “grounded” movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and even the Iron Man movies (before Tony Stark started using nano-tech) and most fantastical or cosmic projects like the Thor movies or Guardians of the Galaxy. However, a large portion of recent MCU projects have all been feeling the same either involving high fantasy, cosmic threats, farther-out sci-fi, etc. It’s widely believed that the MCU needs to regain that balance and variety it once had.

The Winter Soldier
is likely still such a high point for the MCU because the universe hasn’t had anything like it since (at least not to the same degree).


There’s no question that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a big part of providing the more grounded side of the MCU. While there are plenty of great and amazing MCU projects that are just as popular and beloved, The Winter Soldier is likely still such a high point for the MCU because the universe hasn’t had anything like it since (at least not to the same degree). That said, future MCU projects could very well succeed where Marvel Studios has failed in the past when it comes to recreating The Winter Soldier’s success.

How The MCU Can Recapture The Magic Of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Future Projects Are Promising

Fortunately, the upcoming MCU slate has some promising movies that will seemingly be part of the more grounded, action-thriller sub-genre niche. Captain America: Brave New World is a clear candidate, as is Marvel’s Thunderbolts. Both projects have the opportunity to do what the Winter Soldier did best: building upon prior characterizations.


In The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers, Natasha, Nick Fury, and Bucky are already known characters. The movie takes the time to explore new character moments and dynamic tensions that were largely built on pre-existing character-audience relationships. This is something Brave New World and Thunderbolts can take great advantage of, especially considering the Thunderbolts roster full of pre-existing MCU characters, all of whom have great potential for further characterization. The post-Endgame MCU hasn’t capitalized on this much, as evidenced by zero currently announced sequels within the Multiverse Saga (meaning a movie and a sequel both happening inside Phases 4-6).

The MCU returning to more sequels is a great first step to getting back to the character connections that made The Winter Soldier so great. While not as grounded, the success of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. is a prime example beyond Winter Soldier where solid character building was the prime source of drama and tension, a big part of what made the movie a standout success in recent years. It’s what the MCU truly needs more of and why TheWinter Soldier remains such a high point in the MCU ten years after its release.


Source: Emerald City Comic-Con/Chris Evans

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the ninth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After being awoken from cryosleep in the previous film, Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world. As he adjusts, he must battle a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

Release Date
April 4, 2014

Writers
Stephen McFeely , Christopher Markus

Runtime
136 minutes

Budget
$170–177 million

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