This week saw the release of the most recent addition to the cannon of Marvel Studios releases, and after the crushing disappointment of Thor: The Dark World (2013), this movie represents what is perhaps the best of the entire set of Marvel movies, but also a picture that wears is political sensibilities on its sleeve while also managing to place that thematic sensibility into the confides of a labyrinthine comic book narrative, with a wonderfully serious tone to its action set pieces.

The movie picks up the story of Steve Rogers, who was the erstwhile hero of the first movie as he strove to fight an occult team of Nazis. Following these events Rogers was forced to leave his past behind him as he was literally frozen in time before taking his place with his fellow Avengers in Joss Whedon's smash hit 2012 movie. Now Rogers is working with 'S.H.I.E.L.D' alongside Scarlet Johannsson's Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) and Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury to fight injustice, although now the rules are changing in a geopolitically unstable world and the moralistic hero of the story finds himself questioning his loyalties.

The first element of the story that is wonderfully played (and there are many) is the political undercurrent that runs through the it. What is played well here is what the idea of a distinctly American sense of heroism has become after being defined by a conflict in which the moral certainties could be viewed in a Manichean way, beginning with World War 2 (which the main character here was a part of). Contextually what US President JFK would describe in the early '60s as a 'pax Americana' was defined by these traditional values being affected by interventionist policies and an exponentially powerful military combat force. None of this is mentioned directly in the movie but what it does so well is to envelope these thematic concerns within the narrative. Any movie which features a character called 'Captain America' is by definition imbued with this sentiment. The movie also manages to have these political concerns running through its core while combining it with all of the iconography and specificity of this comic book universe. While some elements of this story are expositional, it roars through the plot dynamics while creating a sensibility that is full of expansive ideas and beautifully played character moments. While this is not a super hero movie as written by political theorist Noam Chomsky it is still wonderful to see a movie that reinforces the subversive idea that for true justice sacrifices have to be made and perhaps dangers confronted in the western world.

The movie's action set pieces are viscerally stunning, with those scenes giving the movie a seriousness and dynamism that wouldn't be out of place in a Michael Mann movie. The stunts are excellent and the presence of CGI is kept relatively low until the overly long climax.

Chris Evans is superb in the title role, offering a stern and calm presence and a stunning level of physicality. Scarlet Johannson is again superb as Black Widow and she plays the role with sensitivity and stealthy intelligence; her physicality here is on a par with her male counterparts. Samuel L Jackson is great and Sebastian Stan is iconic as the Winter Soldier. Emily VanCamp and Cobie Smulders are also superb in small roles. Robert Redford brings his '70s political baggage to a sleazy Washington bureaucrat.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a great comic book movie but it is also a stunning addition to an already crowded market place. As other Marvel properties are mishandled by other studios (20th Century Fox and Sony) it is great to see that Disney's Marvel Studios is the front runner. This is a wonderful blockbuster.