Captain America: The Winter Soldier ★★★★½

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So, THE WINTER SOLDIER rewatch. This one holds up just as it did the first time. If anything I might be even a bit more forgiving of its last act excesses because it at least allows some quieter moments of heroism in a way IRON MAN 3 does not. Black Widow's willingness to expose her own secrets plays well on rewatch, as does the little moment where Shannon Carter and anonymous SHIELD tech have to decide to sacrifice their lives if necessary to save the day. It speaks a lot to what is best about CAPTAIN AMERICA when done well; it's not so much about his own heroism, but the fact that his idealism pushes us all to be better. (As Matthew Davis has pointed out, he is the Superman analogue for a reason).

CA also only really works when it's not simply about blind patriotism but about confronting our sins as a nation and striving to do better collectively as well. The NSA parallels are obvious, but that Nick Fury car chase, aside from being a great action sequence, can't help but to evoke state violence against people of color. It's subtle, yes, but also much bolder than one would expect from an action blockbuster. If this isn't the best movie of the Marvel bunch, it is at least hands down the smartest.