I saw the 11:15pm screening of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" in digital IMAX 3D at the NYC Lincoln Center auditorium. As with last week's screening of "Noah", this is a venue that is built and configured for 15/70 screenings, and the digital projector is unable to fill either the width or height of the screen, so that it is a very windowboxed presentation. That being said, I did not notice any of the pixelation that was present during "Noah" or "Gravity" last year. Unfortunately, IMAX refuses to comment on whether a release is digital or film - it used to be a guarantee that if you bought a Lincoln Square ticket, you were going to see a 15/70 presentation - that's no longer the case, and they won't tell you in advance which it is. ("Iron Man 3" was a 15/70 release, for instance.) Anyway, specific theater quibbles aside...
"Captain America: The First Avenger" is the best so far of the Marvel Phase 2 films, and does the best job of any of those films in portraying a post-"Avengers" world. Whereas "Iron Man 3" supposedly dealt with Tony Stark's mental fallout from the events in the Avengers, I thought that plotline was written badly and had a hard time accepting that Stark was ever in real distress. (I think the idea of someone having post tramautic stress is real and believable; I just don't think the filmmakers did a great job selling it.) "Iron Man 3" also had shifting tones where it didn't seem quite sure what kind of movie it wanted to be. "Thor: The Dark World" barely mentions the events of "Avengers", and ABC's SHEILD show only occasionally touches on it as well. While the Avengers won the battle in "Avengers", they were left deeply suspicious of SHIELD and Nick Fury. SHIELD was making secret weapons; SHIELD was messing around with forces they shouldn't have, which is what allowed Loki to get through in the first place. And in "Avengers", we see that at the least, Iron Man and Captain America are not thrilled with Fury or SHIELD. Unfortunately, Iron Man 3 doesn't develop this at all.
Fortunately, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" picks up that thematic point - what happens when you think you're one of the good guys, trying to do the right thing, and you find out that the people behind you might have ulterior motives? I think the film nails the vibe of the 70s paranoid cold war thriller, and it seems appropriate for a story that is half old school conspiracy theory, half ripped-from-the-headlines big brother survellience nightmare. The film feels both timely and timeless, allowing the viewer to bring in (or leave out) as much real-world baggage as they want. Afterall, while plenty of people watch a movie like this for sheer entertainment, there is still a sizeable audience that looks for parables to the real world in their fantasy storytelling.
I have two minor complaints that are somewhat-spoilery, so probably best to avoid reading til after you've seen the movie:
Another minor quibble would be that some things just can't be suspenseful when you know in advance that the cast is signed to multi-picture deals.
Quick note on the 3D: I was a little disappointed. I think the original Thor and Captain America films (Marvel's first forays into 3D) were good post-conversions for their time (early-to-mid 2011), and that "The Avengers" had the best 3D visuals of any of the films. I get why the Avengers was so good in that regard - Joss Whedon had originally planned to shoot the film using 3D cameras, but wasn't happy with how they performed on the set when he filmed the tag at the end of Thor, so the decision was made to film in 2D and convert for 3D. But the film was intended to be in 3D, and you can tell that watching it, at least some thought was given to 3D from the beginning. In my opinion, "Iron Man 3" was a big step back, with very indifferent 3D that seemed barely there for most of the film. "Thor: The Dark World" was a little better than "Iron Man 3" in that regard, and I think this was probably somewhere in between. There were a couple shots where the 3D conversion made it appear that the Winter Soldier's metal arm was floating above his torso instead of being attached to it, but they were very brief and I think most people wouldn't notice. I absolutely love 3D, and I think comic book movies are natural candidates for the 3D treatment, so it's been disappointing to me to see the post-Avengers Marvel films doing a somewhat lackluster job at it.
All in all -- really good moviegoing experience, and I'd like to see it again sooner vs. later.