When I went to see this film in the cinema, I had seen most of the previous films so I was aware of the Marvel Universe, but I wasn’t a fan. At the time I hated Iron Man, I thought Thor was a bit of a waste of time, and I had little or no knowledge about where the Marvel franchise was going. I was aware of a bigger plan, but it barely registered.
The Winter Soldier changed all of that for me. This film is the one that made me fall absolutely head over heels in love with the Marvel Universe. Of all the films I’d seen before I fell into the fandom with a sudden bump, Captain America had been the one that of all of the Avengers I had liked the most, and I love the character even more in this film.
All I can remember on leaving the cinema was wow; what an utterly brilliant film and saying something along the lines of “Wait, you know all those films I’ve been watching but barely registering for years? Those are actually really good as well aren’t they?” I believe a binge watching session ensued. I still didn’t like Iron Man and I haven’t seen the Hulk film, but Thor and the Avengers completely transformed in my eyes.
The only reason that I can think as to why this happened is because The Winter Solider is where everything changes. There was some foreshadowing in the Avengers, where it was suggested that not everything is as quint and as wonderful as it all seemed at the beginning, and this film is where the safety net for the superhero just utterly disappears. S.H.I.E.L.D. becomes the enemy and Captain America doesn’t hesitate for a second in bringing them down.
You also get to see a new side to Black Widow, in the role of a mentor and a friend. The only reason Steve survives at first is because she keeps him alive. She is just brilliant, and one of the reason is because she is hurting. Her world is on the verge of collapsing; but she is calm and collected, and determined to survive.
The other reason I really loved it, and this came across more strongly with Captain America than it did with Thor, is that while each of the individual Avengers are part of the wider Marvel Universe, they do also have their own film series as well. Iron Man has a trilogy that does show a progression in the character, but in the third film that had to come from the events of the Avengers.
With The Winter Soldier the continuation of the story comes from The First Avenger. While the events of the film will no doubt have a hell of an impact on the wider Marvel Universe, Captain America has his own story as well. Part two of his story is just spectacular.