I've been waiting for this film since before I was even sure they were going to make it. That's a long wait, and a lot of built-up expectation. No suspense here: I'll start by saying that I loved it.
I loved the upgrade on Captain America's uniform. I loved seeing more of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. I loved seeing Steve Rogers wrestle with his WWII American ideals in the context of a complex and devious world.
Possibly the latter is why I've really been engaged by Captain America - The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier. Steve Rodgers carries with him an overreaching desire to do what is Right, to be a force for Good, to make a world for the better. When I was growing up, I was formed by parents who also believed in those things. Dad was in the Philippines in WWII; Mom was a Rosie-the-Riveter type making munitions at Bethlehem Steel. They were honest, hard-working, utterly undevious. Steve Rodgers could have sat down to dinner with them and been at ease with their world-view, if perhaps a bit taken aback by Dad's Navy Blue Colorful Language, or the intensity of Mom's appreciation of America as a naturalized citizen. Maybe I'm seeing something of them in Captain America that I miss in an age when I trust no one in government to say what is true or do what best benefits their people. I look around and see that Hydra is the role model for corporations, politicians, and kids in high school, teaching them that only their own agendas have merit, and opposing/differing views simply get in the way.
"I'm honest," Steve Rodgers says in the movie. And he is. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s good agents can trust him, the nation can trust him, and by golly, go get those Hydra bastards, Cap, and stop them in their tracks!
Steve Rodgers is troubled by the direction S.H.I.E.L.D. is taking with their increasing armament. Nick Fury informs him that the world is different now, and the old ways are not a good fit. Rodgers can't agree, and Fury now trusts him enough to let him know that Hydra has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. and intends to make Captain America a permanent thing of the past.
Operating in secret, Cap finds a few allies, but must face a super-soldier on the other side -- one he has seen before in uniform, whose hand he shook in fellowship long years before.
For those who like to see things blow up all over the place, this movie will satisfy. For those of us who want to see good triumph, this movie will make us scream with frustration and turn to television's series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which does indeed dovetail with the movie.
See the first Captain America, see The Winter Soldier, and get out the popcorn for Tuesday nights' Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.