It's also awesome in that it's more than a boast, warning, or threat. It's also a promise and an offer that pretty much only Captain America or Superman could get away with saying and still sound sincere: "If you don't want to do this, you can leave now. No hard feelings."
Batroc the Leaper.
Captain America's list of people who have challenge him in a fight include; A Nazi with the same serum flowing through his veins, his ex-sidekick who has a robot arm and was experimented on by said Nazi, a magical alien prince who can go toe-to-toe with Thor, and... a pirate. Batroc is thus far the only unaugmented human that can gain ground on Captain America. He even seemed unimpressed with Captain America for a moment.
He didn't even have to fight Captain America. He'd successfully avoided the Captain's initial attack, and his escape at the end of the rescue mission proves he could have run if he'd wanted to. But he stayed behind, just because Captain America was a Worthy Opponent. The way Captain America puts his shield away, gives the indication he considers Batroc a worthy opponent too.
As it turns out, he was hired for the job by Nick Fury. Fury trusts him to do his dirty work. He's like S.H.I.E.L.D. black ops That gives an indication of just how impressive Batroc's skills are.
The moment he realizes his crew has been compromised, he ducks. There was no way he could have seen or heard anything coming. Captain America's shield flies through the window, right where his head would have been, and knocks out his second in command.
The Winter Soldier's entrance. Nick Fury has just escaped from dozens of submachine-gun wielding police officers with a fractured arm]] and seems to be making good his escape. Then, standing right in front of him, cool as a cucumber, the Soldier. Who fires a strange bomblet that sticks to the bottom of his car, blowing it up into the air, then casually steps out of the way as a couple of tons of burning SUV goes flying past.
Winter Soldier catching Cap's shield, one-handed, as it's thrown at him from behind. And then throwing it back with enough force that when Steve catches it, he can't stop it from pushing on enough to punch him in the gut and knock the wind out of him.
Falcon firing Guns Akimbo at a Quinjet, backflipping off the Helicarrier and activating his wings on the way down, followed by an aerial chase.
Cap leaping out of a Quinjet, without a parachute. Judging by Rumlow's reaction, it's not the first time he's done it.
Black Widow surviving a fall from a crashing car by leaping off a bridge, grappling it, then hitting the ground running.
Giving the woman more credit where due for this scene: right after that bit of awesome, she then uses the Winter Soldier's shadow to pinpoint his position and accurately shoot out his Sinister Shades. Note that before this, the Winter Soldier had been killing with mechanical economy of movement and absence of expression, but when Natasha manages that little feat, he speeds up. She did the impossible and got him mad.
Addendum: Nat shot out his goggles. The lens was broken. She used his shadow to pinpoint his location and shot him in the eye. If the Soldier hadn't been wearing goggles, the movie would have ended right then and there. If she'd hit him a little higher and gotten a headshot, the movie would have ended right then and there. Natasha came within a fraction of an inch of killing the Winter Soldier. Using his shadow.
Sam makes his entrance into the bridge fight by taking out a HYDRA machine-gunner with nothing more than a combat knife. In a matter of seconds he catches the guy by surprise, punches him in the face, cuts through his rifle strap and punches him off the bridge - and then he takes up the guy's rifle and starts providing cover fire. Oh, and during the whole mess he somehow manages to re-don his jetpack, just in time to save Steve's life.
Cap vs. the Quinjet when he escapes the Triskelion after evading the STRIKE team.
Winter's Soldier various feats include outrunning Captain America, punching his shield so hard that Cap feels the impactnote note that Steve's shield absorbs most vibrations completely, ripping the steering wheel out of a car, and then leaping to another car while both are driving.
The initial raid on the hijacked boat is pretty damned impressive on Steve's part, with him blazing across the ship and taking out pirates like they're cardboard cut-outs.
Also note that other than Steve, Natasha is the only other operative who goes in solo against the terrorists. She doesn't have Super Strength, but she mops the floor with all the soldiers she comes up against.
Black Widow holding her own against the Winter Soldier. She manages to trick him with a clever sound diversion, bind him with a wire and briefly shocked the systems in his bionic arm - all within minutes of each other. Sure, she still gets shot for her troubles, but she put up one hell of a fight. Notable, since the only other person who gives him any kind of issue at all is the Cap himself.
Maria Hill's rescue of Steve, Natasha & Sam from "S.H.I.E.L.D." custody.
The ambush of Nick Fury's car. The way the HYDRA operatives - disguised as DC cops - first box in Fury's car, preventing him from escaping, and then cops with submachine guns and assault rifles put up a withering barrage of fire to destroy his SUV's armor. Then the SWAT team deploys a tripod-mounted pneumatic battering ram to break through the armored glass. And then Fury with a broken arm, and nerves of steel, waits until the glass is almost broken through, then he breaks out a machine gun and unloads on his attackers, killing most of them and expertly employs Car Fu against all of them in his escape. Then he shakes off the remaining "cops" after a hectic car chase in a really impressive way: with the two police cars sandwiching him between them, Fury sees they are approaching a red light and slams on the brake pedal, while the two squad cars continue on and are promptly clobbered by a box rental truck. Until the Winter Soldier showed up and one-shotted his SUV... and Fury still manages to escape! This guy isn't the Director of SHIELD for nothing.
The Winter Soldier curbstomping the SHIELD pilots and flight crews who were about to help Captain America. In just a few minutes, he takes out SHIELD's ability to provide Gunship Rescue, destroying pretty much every available Quinjet on the flightline.
Steve giving a Rousing Speech to SHIELD revealing how HYDRA has infiltrated them, and asking them to sacrifice themselves for freedom. Which they do.
Sharon and an unnamed SHIELD agent standing up to Rumlow as the film begins to hit the final stretch. She was also the first person to question the orders to go after Captain America.
Steve vs. a SHIELD gunship. Steve wins.
Falcon vs. a SHIELD helicarrier. Falcon wins.
Maria Hill rolling backwards in her chair, shooting the two HYDRA soldiers trying to sneak up on her, and then returning to her console as if nothing had happened.
The reveal that Zola was able to keep his brain active in a computer for decades.
Chris Evans: Wow, that flies so far past ridiculous it somehow circles back around to awesome.
The fact that HYDRA made good on its motto. Old HYDRA may have been cut down, but something far worse took its place. There might be worse galactic, mystical, and otherworldly threats out there, but there's something about the worst kind of evil being home grown and having blossomed under the nose of society itself, is scarily awesome in its own right.
Both fights between Cap and the Winter Soldier. Easily the best straight up hand-to-hand (or hand-to-shield/knife-to-shield in some cases) fight scenes Marvel has had on film, and for good reason. These are two peak-of-human-ability soldiers fighting at close combat, with little held back, landing, countering, and reeling at blows that would cripple ordinary humans - in particular, Cap throws the Winter Soldier against a car, then knees him further into it.
Cap's fighting technique and prowess every time it gets highlighted is awesome, he shows exceptional growth in technique and skill that wasn't quite there in his previous two outings. His shield usage in particular is fantastic to behold each time he hurls it.
One notable move from Cap's side. He outright grabs the Winter Soldier by the neck and holds him up for a good few seconds, then slams him into the ground. One-handed.
The behind-the-scenes extras serve to show that the majority of these two fights did not use CGI or even stunt doubles for their combat moves.
The World Security Councilman who gives Pierce a Shut Up, Hannibal!. Pierce gives him a glass of champagne and asks the councilman, if his daughter was dragged into a soccer stadium and about to be executed, wouldn't he want to stop her would be murderer with a flip of a switch? The councilman responds with "Not if it was your switch," and smashes the glass on the floor.
When Pierce takes a gun to shoot him the British councilwoman kicking him out of the way and preceding to wipe the floor with Pierce's goons in a skirtsuit and high heels and then revealing herself to be Black Widow wearing a high tech mask and pointing a gun at Pierce saying "I'm sorry, did I step on your moment? For geeks the moment is made even more awesome, or hilarious, by the fact that the councilwoman is played by Jenny Agutter from Logans Run and An American Werewolf in London. It's almost disappointing that she turned out to be Natasha all along!
After that, another councilman has a Badass Bystander moment as he grabs a gun and holds Pierce at gunpoint without flinching, not saying anything, just in case he tries something.
And one more for Black Widow. She uses a shocking device to electrocute herself and reboot Pierce's phone device, which he was using to force her to scramble a jet for him to escape, and allowing Nick Fury to shoot Pierce twice in those precious few seconds, the second time finally killing the HYDRA agent.
The SHIELD technician who refuses to launch the Insight Helicarriers, even with Rumlow holding a gun to his head.
Agent 13 kicks out the chair from under the SHIELD technician so Rumlow's shot misses him.
When Black Widow is about to reveal all of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s classified information to the world, she has this exchange with Pierce.
Pierce: Are you sure you are ready for the world to see you as you really are?
Black Widow: Are you?
Pierce smugly points out to Black Widow that two Alpha level members of S.H.I.E.L.D. are required to unlock their database, and Pierce is the only one in the room. Cue motherfucking Nick Fury waltzing into room and Pierce's Oh, Crap expression. Pierce gets one himself by coolly asking if he got the flowers he sent.
Fury going above and beyond in terms of Crazy-Prepared, by keeping a record of his blinded eye in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s database, just in case of a threat like Pierce and HYDRA.
Falcon takes care of some homing missiles by turning off his wings, doing a cannonball and falls away from the explosion before turning his wings back on. Even more badass, is that Falcon does this by tucking himself up into a ball, and rolling forward repeatedly, changing his angular momentum, and curving his flightpath downward, under the helicarrier's glass blister. This is a man who can fly just as well without wings, as with them.
Overlapping with Badass Boast, Natasha has a gem of a line in the ending: "Go ahead, arrest me. You'll know where to find me." And then she just gets up and walks out.
A minor one. In Captain America's Smithsonian exhibit, the automated recording for Bucky's exhibit revealed that he was the only Howling Commando to fall in battle. That meant that Cap and the Howling Commandos went through literally all of WWII, taking on the most dangerous missions, with almost zero casualties.
And with the reveal that Bucky lived (albeit with some seriousalterations), that means zero casualties.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. pilots trying to get to their jets to help Cap and Falcon. While they're all taken out by the Winter Soldier they still gave it their best shot.
Immediately after Batroc successfully gets Steve to drop his shield and fight him hand-to-hand, Steve easily and very quickly kicks his ass.
During the big final duo the Winter Soldier seizes the last chip, Steve gets him in an armbar and starts pulling to get him to let go. The impressive part is on Steve's will power because Bucky gives an extremely loud scream and typically this is where the hero thinks of his old friend, relaxes his hold, then loses the MacGuffin and has to improvise. Instead Steve refuses to let go despite his friend's cries until he yields the chip.
A relatively minor one compared to the rest of the movie is when the Winter Soldier is clinging to the top of the heroes' speeding car. Instead of trying to shake off the Winter Soldier with sharp swerves and speeding up (like you'd see in most action movies), Steve simply puts the car in Park and lets physics take care of things.
Not one to be taken down so easily, the Winter Soldier manages to turn this into a roll before putting all the momentum/energy onto the one part of his body that can withstand it: his metal arm. It still sends him a good distance, dragging his metal fingers through the pavement in the process, but with no measurable harm whatsoever.
The Falcon vs Rumlow fight. A very quick battle that we don't see much of, but it once again helps highlight the awesomeness that is the Falcon in this film.
Rumlow: This is gonna hurt! There are no prisoners with Hydra; just order. And order only comes from pain. You ready for yours? Sam:(disgusted face) Man, shut the hell up. (Both men go in with punches to the other's face)
One each for Black Widow and Agent 13. When Winter Soldier attacks their car, Nat jumps into Steve's lap and pulls his head down. She then kicks Sam toward the window. Each of those actions moved someone out of the path of a bullet... which is exactly what Agent 13 does in kicking the chair out from under the defiant SHIELD tech before Rumlow can execute him. SHIELD must have one helluva training program.
According to this article, Marvel requested that the Russo brothers come back to direct Captain America 3 a full three months before this movie even came out, because the test screenings were just that good. And filming begins in 2015. One year after Winter Soldier's release. For a sequel, that is fast.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was set to create a Dueling Movies scenario with Captain America 3, but the exceptional performance of this film and Guardians of the Galaxy movie caused it to back down and move its release date a month or so earlier. That's right, a movie starring Batman and Superman didn't like its odds against a Captain America movie.
Sebastian Stan's performance. He has less then 10 lines of dialogue, yet turns in one of the best performances of the film with nothing but body language and facial expressions. And all of those implausibly Bad Ass knife tricks and catches? 100% real and done by the actor himself.
The fighting choreography in general deserves a lot of applause. Seen as one of the movie's highlights, most of it was performed by the actors themselves with minimal use of CGI.
The fact this film had the BALLS to be a total game-changer. Being the last MCU film set on Earth before Age of Ultron, it could have just been two hours of Steve being a fish out of water and punching terrorists instead of Nazis. Instead they went for a move that will, and has, have a massive impact on the entire franchise. It also gives an "All Bets Are Off" feeling, considering SHIELD is often a massive part of all the comic universes.
According to the DVD commentary, the early scene at the Captain America museum was actually shot on location at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. According to the directors, they had a camera on a crane within a few inches of the Spirit of St. Louis and were freaking out about what would happen if there was any damage. It's kind of awesome that they were able to get a location like that for the film.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier earned an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. Even though it lost to Interstellar, this marks the first time a movie with Captain America in the titular role became an Oscar nominee.