This is starting to turn into a "broken record" sort of thing. Every time I write about a comic super hero movie I get into how Hollywood has this all down now.
Sure there was Green Lantern and Iron Man II (made bearable only by the presence of bad guy, Mickey Rourke). But by and large these films are now, at worst, bearable and at best they are solidly entertaining films. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is more in the latter category than the former. It isn't any of the Nolan Batman films nor is it like the first two X-Men movies but it compares favorably to Iron Man I and III (both surprisingly good) and is better than the also surprisingly good Thor movies.
It just works. But why does it work?
Perhaps the most important reason this film (and these #2 or #3 super hero films) work is that the heavy lifting of character development and backstory has been done by the earlier movies. One of the things that brings a super hero down is back story--how did they become a super hero? This isn't always deadly to a film but it seems to be the area where films can get bogged down.
An uninteresting bad guy can also bring a film to a screeching halt. Sam Rockwell did it in Iron Man II. In part Rockwell did it because there was another, better, villain in the film and he just seemed mundane. His villain just didn't seem very interesting (he, in fact, seemed like someone imitating Sam Rockwell at a party). If you have more than one villain? They all have to be interesting in their own way. In this film they work--even if they are not terribly surprising. Who plays the villains also counts.
People also just like heroes, good versus evil. And there is very little chance in these films that evil will win. They are not horror movies. We even like a chance at redemption and also stories of lost love. Captain America: The Winter Soldier offers a little bit of all these. It isn't a great movie but it is an entertaining one. For good or ill it does its part to keep us all interested in the various interconnected Marvel franchise films--for awh