Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Heavy fantasy violence, but no sex in superhero sequel.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 136 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 166 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie continues the theme raised by The Avengers about stockpiling weapons and preemptive strikes, and attacking enemies first before they have a chance to attack. There's also an issue of trust, as it becomes clear that commanding officers are withholding information. However, for Captain America, it's simple: fear does not equal freedom. Captain America believes in telling the truth, and sticking by his friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

More so than many superheroes, Captain America is a decent role model who demonstrate courage, perseverance, and integrity. He's out of place and doesn't quite fit in, but the ideals he believes in and fights for are simple and pure. He believes that freedom is better than fear, and that knowledge and trust is better than the false illusion of safety. He sticks by his friends, no matter what, and he tells the truth. He does hurt people during fights, however. 


This movie has heavy, frequent fighting, punching, shooting, falling, and crashing, though it's all stylish fantasy with only a little blood. Cap and Black Widow tend to fight hand-to-hand more often than using weapons, though Cap bashes several bad guys with his shield. A showdown between Cap and the Winter Soldier is a fairly brutal hand-to-hand fight. There are lots of explosions and damaged property.


Cap and Black Widow kiss in order to avoid being detected by bad guys; later she realizes that it was probably his first kiss since his WWII days, and she teases him about it. She continually suggests women that he could be dating. Cap interacts with one pretty woman, but their flirting is interrupted before it goes anywhere. Cap also visits his former love, now an old lady in the hospital.


Very little language, but some uses of "s--t" often obscured by battle noise.


There are several toys and products now associated with the "Avengers" and "Captain America" franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some bad guys sip champagne during meeting.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Captain America: The Winter Soldier -- the second Captain America movie in the Avengers franchise -- is more violent than Cap's first outing. While it focuses more on character and on the themes of military paranoia, it still features heavy fantasy fighting, with shooting, punching, and wince-inducing hand-to-hand combat, as well as some blood and death. Sex isn't an issue, though there's some commentary about Cap's nonexistent dating life, and he shares a strategic kiss with Black Widow. Language is minor, but a few strong words can be somewhat heard during noisy battle sequences. Like the other superhero movies in this series, this one is marketed with toys, games, and other paraphernalia that younger kids might be clamoring for.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bynuenjins May 7, 2015

The most well done, convincing and GRITTY in the series.

After Thors sequel the hopes were iffy going in but Cap is the most 'down to earth' of the crew with real limitations making him more vulnerable and h... Continue reading
Adult Written byPrairie Teacher April 10, 2014

Way too violent for kids

This film neither feels like a sequel to the Avengers nor like a sequel to the nostalgia-laced first Captain America film. The violence is on par with some of t... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byshrekmaster April 4, 2014

Cap knows it!

The film is amazing! It's a typical Marvel Movie! No blood, all shooting. Know your kids!
Teen, 13 years old Written byRobby Berger April 18, 2014

An amazing and exciting sequel to the first Captain America

I was personally thrilled by seeing this movie, but also surprised at all the action and plot twists in it as well. It has at least twice the action of the firs... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the start of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), finds life in the 21st century challenging. He seems daunted by the prospect of a relationship, but even worse is the fact that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) seems to be sending him on missions without telling him what's really going on. This mistrust is deepened when Cap and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) learn about the existence of an evil organization, HYDRA, planted within S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. Add to that a powerful, mysterious new foe that goes by the name of "The Winter Soldier," plus the fact that Cap has now been put on the most wanted list, makes this a very bad day. Fortunately, Cap has some new help in the form of a Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

Is it any good?

Chris Evans has grown significantly in his role since The Avengers, and is far more appealing here. The first movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, looked great, but was somehow lacking in the character department as it unfolded its lengthy, convoluted origin story. Captain America: The Winter Soldier focuses more on character, which is great, though the brother directors Anthony and Joe Russo -- who take over for Joe Johnston -- are camera-shakers, and the action in this movie is sorely lacking. For some reason, whenever Cap throws his shield or a fist, the camera jerks alongside it, rather than simply following it.

Fortunately, the heart of the movie is still beating. Evans goes for the same kind of charming, simple quality that Christopher Reeve had in the Superman movies. He's ever so slightly uncertain, and he generates some warm chemistry with his co-stars, especially Scarlett Johansson and Anthony Mackie. If only the movie had a little more downtime to spend with them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is Captain America: The Winter Soldier darker than the other superhero movies you've seen? What would be the real-life consequences of the violence in the movie?

  • What sets Captain America apart from other superheroes? How does he compare to Batman? Iron Man? Is he more or less of a "good guy" than those characters?

  • What's the movie's message about freedom and fear? Why is the hero named after America? Could he have just as easily been Captain Argentina? Captain China? Why or why not?

  • How do the characters in Captain America: The Winter Soldier demonstrate courage, perseverance, and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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