I finally gave in and watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I would've watched it sooner, but hearing so many Libertarians overpraising it as a warning about the rise of the police state had me dragging my feet a little bit. I ended up liking it much more than I thought I would. It was vastly superior to the first Captain America movie, that's for sure; I actually thought The Avengers worked much better as an introduction to Captain America as a character than Captain America: The First Avenger did.
( I've heard some say that Winter Soldier was a better movie than The Avengers. I liked Winter Soldier a lot, and it was easily the best sequel I've seen in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, but I don't see how you could say it surpasses The Avengers. Even Iron Man--generally accepted as the best origin story of the bunch--is still a lesser movie than The Avengers, IMHO. )
Captain America: The Winter Soldier kept a lot of plates spinning throughout the movie, but there's always plenty of well-timed exposition to keep you from getting lost; it maybe even had a bit too much exposition in a few places for my taste, but that's a minor criticism. The movie didn't really connect directly to the events of The Avengers, but it did feel rather Avenger-y, thanks to the inclusion of Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Robert Redford was perfectly cast as Alexander Pierce. I thought Emily VanCamp was also a nice bit of casting, even though her part wasn't all that big. I have a funny feeling that she'll eventually end up as a regular on Agents of SHIELD after ABC pulls the plug on Revenge. ( By the way, if you like all the Hydra vs SHIELD stuff in Winter Soldier, you might want to give Agents of SHIELD a try... Hydra plays a big part in it, especially in season two. )
One thing I wasn't sure how to feel about in this movie was Anthony Mackie as the Falcon; there were moments where the movie seemed to want him to be more than just Captain America's sidekick, and yet he basically gets thrown under the bus the minute Captain America doesn't need to be flown anywhere anymore. Also, the casting of Mackie as Falcon didn't feel quite right to me in either case, but the rest of the movie is good enough to make me feel like I'm picking nits for even mentioning these problems.