If you're aware of the comic book arc surrounded the Winter Soldier, you're unlikely to have many surprises. Even so, each character was handled well, the three or so major reveals in the film were masterfully maneuvered, and the story line was very well paced (which is something Marvel doesn't always do terribly well -- looking at you, Iron Man films...).
This movie has some of the most intense fight scenes I've ever witnessed. You could almost feel some of the hardest blows, and Captain America REALLY showed his worth when kicking ass and taking names. In the comics, he rarely comes off (to me) as a character that stands shoulder to shoulder with super-powered heroes when it comes to fighting. Generally his trademark is throwing his shield, and that's pretty much it. On screen, where you're not having action sequences drawn panel to panel but instead see every fluid moment, Chris Evans shines. He's appropriately acrobatic and his enhanced strength, while not remotely close to Hulk level, still makes combat against normal folks REALLY one sided. And when he's pitted against super-strong foes, he is still able to hold his ground reasonably. This just doesn't come through the comics that I've read with Cap, but was really amazing to see on screen. Even the shield throwing was pretty badass, and I didn't think that was possible.
|If you thought Fury was BA before, wait until you see him now...|
One thing I really appreciate is the growth in character. His physical abilities have grown since The First Avenger, which makes sense with his constant training. His relationships with the other characters and SHIELD has also grown, and in interesting ways. This is not a stagnant character, though he is consistent in what he views as right and wrong. It's nice to have a character that's not completely beset by self-doubt.
As far as villains go, the Winter Soldier is pretty intense, but hardly the most interesting character in the film. Fortunately, he's not completely alone...
That's most of what I have to say on the film without spoiling anything. Maybe I'll do a follow up post down the line, or maybe I'll just wait until all the Phase 2 movies are released...
SUGGESTION: Watch Captain America: The First Avenger right before seeing the film. You'll appreciate the refresher, I strongly believe.
I rate the movie a 9/10. I rate the first Captain America film an 8/10. For a character I dislike in the comics, I'm absolutely loving him in the films. Chris Evans has found his role, and I'm glad his past as the Human Torch didn't prevent him from being Captain America. For further comparison, I rate The Avengers and the first Iron Man at an 8/10... So it may be safe to say that The Winter Soldier is my favorite Marvel film to date as well...