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Tym says

A complex thriller focused sharply as a riveting character drama.

Darren says

Not a single scene or line is wasted in this tour de force—that is an Avengers movie in disguise.

Ciaran says

The only thing that would make this film better is if I knew there was a Captain America IV after it. It’s a trilogy anomaly, where the movies get better every time.

History

Captain America’s strength as a character is literally the strength of his character.

This superior third act triumphs, not by his iconic powers, but through his core ideals. Cap isn’t a flag or a border, an icon or a drone; he is a moral compass beyond era or place. Cap is the lone soul with the right heart against the wrongheaded. He course-corrects when all goes wayward and always charts progress.

When the global superpowers misuse a tragedy as a power play to control The Avengers, Cap senses this is hinging to fascism-by-degrees. When his disgraced friend is framed, Cap tests the convictions of all his allies in the pursuit of actual truth. Cap is the litmus test of conscience.

This is not another Avengers film; it is another smart espionage thriller about Cap that includes his friends in that context. It is a naturally symbiotic relationship; Cap films exist because of Avengers films. The span and interplay Joss Whedon brought to Avengers 1 inspired the scope and dramatic depth of Cap 2. The fissures and repercussions of Avengers 2 are directly echoed and expanded in Cap 3. Notably, it takes a quartet -directors the Russo brothers and screenwriters Markus and McFeely- to do here what Whedon did solo. They succeed against bloat by going lean.

Cap films are naturalistic, paring away the cosmic for dramatic intrigue and practical action. Less Lee and Kirby, more Ludlam and Le Carre. No waste, every move and line matters. It brings sharp clarity and balance to a complex work, while still nuancing the team from Whedon’s blueprints, beautifully introducing Spider-Man and Black Panther, and bringing a real-world immediacy that invests the viewer. Downey is more haunted and serious as Stark, and Chris Evans’ understated subtlety as Cap is a wonder.

The film rings as an antidote to its rival, Batman v Superman (2016); where that film lost its way in pessimism, ultraviolence, and sprawl, Cap 3 brings heart and smarts to its characters, respects the audience, and rewards repeated viewings with fine craft and an ethical maturity.

Captain America is a beacon of hope when other heroes have lost their way.

Captain America II: The Winter Soldier