SPOILERS AHEAD for those that haven't seen them and mention of the comics which may affect the future movies.
Captain America The First Avenger
This is mostly what I recall thinking when I first saw the movie, I didn't really see anything new that I missed the first time. Well except for TLJ actions leading to what happens in CAWS and the stolen formula.
- I was so thrilled to see Tommy Lee Jones (Phillips) and he does a good job in the part. Funny, tough but not a character that falls into the clichés of become the flat out asshole in command. I did think he lied about believing Bucky died to get Steve out of there but I can't really see him in a bad light for that. Nor his exasperation at Steve when he's little. He gives Peggy a chance, treats her with respect and actually becomes impressed with Steve. I was glad to see his picture in the SHIELD HQs in the second movie.
- Phillips unknowingly brought about Hydra invading SHIELD by bringing in Zola. The smug look on Zolas' face--which doesn't change when it's brought up that Steve's best friend died--always led me to believe he knew Bucky wouldn't die.
- Peggy Carter is awesome. She can take care of herself and never becomes the damsel in distress. While she is taken with Steve she doesn't let it distract her from her job and still points out his flaws like his lack of understanding women. Peggy, the doctor and Bucky are the only ones that really see Steve's greatness before he's a super solider and that detail really says a lot about them. Since my mom saw this and Avengers she keeps on mentioning that Steve has to see Peggy again.
- Dr. Erskine is such a likeable guy from the first moment we see him until he dies. My mom knows the actor from other movies and was upset when she realized they were going to kill him. One thing has stuck out with me though, his talk with Steve on how the super soldier formula works. That it enhances what was on the inside. I kind of took this to mean that was why the Red Skull looks the way he does even though Erskine does admit that was something that happened with a earlier prototype. Basically if you're evil it will affect you in a bad way (looks/sanity) and if you're not good will come out of it. I'm kind of curious if that would apply with Bucky--if Hydra needed a good guy to get the same results as Captain America and could only brainwash him to get their own super solider. I've heard that the tie in comic even had Bucky sick when they started experimenting on him. So a good person plus sickly equals the perfect super solider?
- Howard Stark wasn't someone I expected to see but I do like seeing how Captain America affected him, something that apparently soured Tonys' opinion on the guy. I'm truly curious how this connection will play out in future movies.
- I never cared about the Red Skull but Hugo makes him so interesting to watch.
- The Howling Commandos aren't shown much but their awesome. I liked their addition which came as a welcome surprise.
- Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are perfect. I get the changes with Bucky and it actually makes their friendship deeper since they've been buddies their whole lives. The protectiveness they have for each other is very endearing and seems like the strongest of the Marvel movie friendships to date. (Although the Ironman/Hulk friendship has potential.) Bucky motivates Steve to become a hero and some of the details of their bond say so much about them. Like Bucky asking Steve if the transformation hurt after he was tortured!
- The foreshadowing was great, something we comic fans love. I know I did. Some didn't think Bucky would return because of his "death" but I always saw the set up. He even says their going to the future in one scene! Then there's the part where he holds up the shield to protect Steve which leads to his downfall/gives a nod to Bucky Cap. I honestly thought that when Steve found him in the lab there would be a metal arm then suspected they gave him their own formula. Of course it would have made more sense if the agent that took the formula earlier actually got a small sample out.
- The end with him in the future is so surreal and sad. You just want to give him a hug.
Captain America Winter Solider
- Steve and Sam have a great bond. I don't get how some fans could claim Tony is the new BFF with Steve when they only got along near the end of Avengers. This is two people instantly connecting and becoming friends. Sam is the normal guy that deals with the traumas of being a solider in healthy ways. He encourages Steve and supports him. That's Sam Wilson. Loyal, dependable, a voice of reason but willing to trust Steve to make the right call. He doesn't need to be asked to go to battle or help Steve find his best friend. Sam just does it because he knows it's the right thing and he's needed. He gets why it's important. I like his much improved backstory that fits well with Steve and shows why they get each other without repeatedly hitting you on the head with it.
- Nick Fury continues to be both badass and remarkably human. Granted I was never a huge follower of him in the comics but Sam Jackson puts some much needed emotion into the part. This is a man that's wary of the world and untrusting of people because of repeated betrayals. Yet he still cares deeply about those around him. The concern he shows for Natasha and the respect he shows towards Steve/Sam at the end really flesh Nick out in a good way. The car scene also shows you why he's a serious threat to be taken seriously.
- I loved the Captain America Museum set and would love if they made something like that at a theme park.
- It was nice to see Maria Hill show up and she certainly made her presence known.
- I'm not sure how their do the Sharon/Agent 13 romance with Steve. I liked that she was sent to look after him although I'm not sure if Fury did that/bugged his apartment because he distrusts him. At least not entirely. Maybe he didn't trust Steves' judgment (the bugs) but he wanted to keep him safe. Sharon is tough, has good morals and obviously has a thing for Steve. But her last name is never stated and her aunt is mentioned. I think that if/when their romance comes about their have them see each other for awhile before he finds out she's related to Peggy.
- I knew Romlow was supposed to be someone but I didn't realize who until I saw people mentioning it online. I just think of Crossbones by his codename not his given name. Plus I see him as a huge guy based on the comic art. Still I liked how he was a SHIELD/Hydra agent that worked with Steve and saw Bucky. His unease around Bucky was interesting especially since their likely be fighting in future movies. It was nice to see him and Sam fighting one-on-one. He's injured at the end but it's obvious that's not the last we'll see of him.
- I can't remember if it's been mentioned how Howard Stark died before. I only saw Ironman 2 one time and I couldn't see if it was mentioned on the papers Steve read in the Avengers deleted scene. I think it was implied that Winter Solider killed them? Which would make future interactions with Tony awkward at best but before this I always assumed Obadiah Stane did it. But at the same time I wonder because wasn't Howard supposed to be one of the creators of SHIELD? Maybe he found out what happened to Bucky? I don't think they shared any scenes together in the first movie but that doesn't mean they never met.
- Pierce (Robert Redford) was great but the more I think of the character the more I realize how creepy he was. He believes in Hydra after witnessing Furys' ruthless but effective methods, right? He believes in the "freedom is bad control is good" so much that he uses Bucky as a tool refusing to treat him as a person. I got the vibe that his talk was a twisted version of a father/son dynamic to give Bucky praise as a reward then wipes his memories when that doesn't work. But think about the first time we see them together. Yes he seems uneasy when he notices Bucky sitting in his kitchen and his offer of milk seems like a ice breaker. It's not, it's a mock offer because he knows Bucky is programmed to do what he wants. It's a taunt.
- Sitwell...I didn't realize he was in so many Marvel movies until I rewatched them recently so his Hydra status didn't register with me as a shock. Same with the guy that's supposed to be from Ironman 2--which I don't recall much of.
- Natasha was great in this and if she forms any bonds with other Avengers outside Hawkeye it should be with Steve. I liked seeing more of her redemption story and how she and Steve relate to each other. Some have complained that her backstory doesn't seem intact. I'm not sure if that's the case--if their saving it for her rumored movie--but if she's not from the past like Steve and Bucky I don't mind that much. She's still interesting regardless. I think the writers want her with Clint (I saw someone point out her arrow necklace online) so that might be the reason for them not exploring her comic past with Bucky. I don't mind that change either. If romance happens then I could see it working without the backstory too. Natasha develops more than any other movie and manages to put up a fight against the Winter Solider. Even stepping on Pierces' moment in a glorious way.
- I can't wait for my mom to see the Peggy scene since she's mentioned there needing to be a scene more than once. It was well acted, the aging wasn't distractingly done and it's such a bittersweet scene. He was too late but she moved on. Peggy is able to encourage him just before she forgets his return.
- Instead of playing Steve off as the guy that still doesn't get things in the present he's learning, adapting and knows more about the world. His fighting has improved to the point you believe he can effortlessly take out a ship full of guys on his own. His relationship with Bucky is heartbreaking. Steve believes in Bucky--in their friendship--and will do anything to save him even die if need be. The fact that Steve breaks though the brainwashing ("I knew him") in it's self is amazing.
- Bartoc the leaper...when I realized who it was I started to smile and liked how they pulled him off. The honorable unarmed fight was a pleasure to watch.
- I'm not going to lie, Bucky Barnes was my favorite in the comics. The reason I even read Brubakers' run. I adore him in both movies and seeing the pain he goes through here is awful. He's childlike, used as a weapon, and desperately clings to this hope Steve gives him. Bucky comes off as the better fighter when he first faces Steve but the second half? Even though he had his memories wiped he still has trouble fighting him. Steves' earnestness affects him and brings out old instincts. Steve didn't jump down after him in the first movie but Bucky dives down to save him. The stinger at the end with him looking up who he used to be at the museum was short but very sweet. I can't wait to see where they take this. Given the actors' new movie contract and Chris Evans statement on his future plans there might be some hope for the Bucky Cap storyline. I certainly hope so. Not that I want Steve to die but I really enjoyed seeing Bucky as Captain America.