CAPTAIN AMERICAThe wait is finally over! “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is now playing. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the film stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Since 2008, Marvel has been churning out movie after movie and building up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From “Iron Man” to the “Hulk” to “Thor” to “Captain America,” each one has graced our screens and entered our lives for better or for worse. Eventually, they all joined together to form “The Avengers,” which wound up being one of the best Marvel and one of the best comic book films to date. Marvel set the bar high for themselves…and with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” they don’t just reach that bar, but they exceed it by a long shot. “The Winter Soldier” isn’t just an action packed superhero film, but a gripping spy thriller with twists and turns around every corner.

Taking place two years after the events of “The Avengers,” Steve Rogers (Evans) lives in the nation’s capital and works for S.H.I.E.L.D., while still struggling to adapt to society. Rogers encounters Sam Wilson (Mackie) on a morning jog, a war veteran just like Cap. Captain America is called to help save a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship that’s been overrun by Algerian pirates led by Georges Batroc (Georges St.-Pierre). Cap, along with a team consisting of Natasha Romanoff (Johansson) and Brock Rumlow (Grillo) infiltrate the ship and are able to take it back. While Rumlow and Cap focus on the hostages and taking down the pirates, Black Widow has a mission of her own given to her directly by Nick Fury (Jackson).

This doesn’t go well with Cap who feels like he has to keep an extra eye on everything going on around him. He doesn’t trust Natasha, he doesn’t trust Fury, and he doesn’t know what who he’s fighting for anymore or who he’s fighting against. Nick Fury decides to show Cap why he had to be so secretive — S.H.I.E.L.D. is in the process of constructing and launching Operation: Insight: three Helicarriers that are linked to spy satellites and, with mass surveillance, will prevent attacks from happening. Cap is disturbed by this notion…dishing out the punishment before the crime is committed isn’t a way to bring down justice. So Cap is left to figure out what to do next…does he keep fighting? Or does he drop it all?

Nick Fury takes what Cap says to heart and does his own investigation into Operation: Insight only to find out that his access to some important data has been denied. He attempts to override that order but it’s no use. He heads up to the top floor to see an old friend, senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official and member of the World Security Council Alexander Pierce (Redford). Fury asks for Pierce to hold off on launching Operation: Insight because he has a bad feeling about it at that certain moment in time. Pierce agrees to do what he can, but on the condition that Fury gets Iron Man to stop in at his daughter’s birthday party. Obviously much, much more happens, but I’m not going to spoil that for you now.

From start to finish, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is easily the best Marvel film to date. An even bolder statement, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is one of the top three comic book movies to have been released. Starting with the acting, everyone plays their roles perfectly. This is clearly a coming out party for Anthony Mackie, who has had himself a nice career, but everyone will know his name by the end of the movie. The screenplay of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely is almost perfect and Markus and McFeely prove that aside from Joss, they may be the best storytellers in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe. Finding a way to make “Captain America” more than just a superhero movie, the two of them are able to blend politics and action while keeping the heart and humor of Captain America as well.

What it comes down is this: first-time Marvel directors Anthony and Joe Russo have stepped away from their TV world to come and direct one of the best comic book movies ever. You’ll know the Russo brothers from their work on shows such as “Arrested Development” and “Community,” I never expected them to create a movie as amazing as “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” “The Winter Soldier” is a must see for any Marvel fan as well as anyone who enjoys a nice political thriller. Oh…and make sure you stay for the end credit scenes…you’ll be rewarded with a teaser for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”