While Iron Man 3 launches its world press tour, leading up to its release at the end of the month in the UK and in the first weekend of May in North America, Marvel Studios begins production on Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The third film in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has entered principal photography and Marvel Studios has unveiled the first official photo from the sequel, along with casting confirmations and a new synopsis.

Last week saw the home video release of the Phase One Collector’s Set and in it came a video preview of the upcoming films, featuring conceptual art for Captain America 2. The artwork gave us our first look at the costume designs of The Winter Soldier and Falcon, along with some scenes featuring the titular hero fighting a S.H.I.E.L.D. Quinjet which piqued our curiosity.

The reveals came around the same time we heard more about the mysterious role Robert Redford would reportedly be playing as another member of S.H.I.E.L.D., or as the “head” of the organization as he himself pointed out,  but Marvel confirmed it all today, and provided us with another theory about that concept art.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” returns Chris Evans (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Marvel’s The Avengers”) as the iconic super hero character Steve Rogers/Captain America, along with Scarlett Johansson (“Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Iron Man 2″) as Black Widow and Samuel L. Jackson (“Marvel’s The Avengers,” “Iron Man 2″) as Nick Fury. In addition, film icon Robert Redford has joined the all-star cast as Agent Alexander Pierce, a senior leader within the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will pick-up where “Marvel’s The Avengers” left off, as Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and teams up with Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, to battle a powerful yet shadowy enemy in present-day Washington, D.C.

The full press release confirms the core returning characters along with the new faces:

Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, first published in 1941, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” features an outstanding supporting cast that includes Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow and Georges St-Pierre as Georges Batroc. Rounding out the talented cast are Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Emily VanCamp as Agent 13 and Maximiliano Hernández as Agent Jasper Sitwell.

All of the casting reports to date were accurate and the most interesting confirmation is that of Redford’s role as Agent Alexander Pierce. In Marvel Comics, Pierce has always been an extremely loyal ally of Nick Fury and not only served as a middleman for Fury and Tony Stark/Iron Man, but even took up leadership of the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. organization when Fury had to go underground as a fugitive. If any element of this plays into the plot of The Winter Soldier and the “shadowy” enemies, it could tie-in to the explanation for the image of Captain America seemingly facing off against a Quinjet (see: above art).

The below still is the first official photo from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and features Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) suited up in another new Captain America outfit, armed with his trusty vibranium shield. Note the pant pockets and forearms and compare to tighter costume from The Avengers. The shot also conveniently includes the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo in the background, further emphasizing the film’s role as not only a modern story of Captain America, but a story of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. Is this photo from the Helicarrier or the old S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ tower where Pierce also served?

The film has begun shooting in Los Angeles for in-studio work and will move to shooting on-location in Cleveland, Ohio, and Washington D.C. this summer. Cap’s next adventure is being directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo off a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and will release in 3D. Robert Redford joins Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Samuel L. Jackson,  Cobie Smulders, Scarlett Johansson, Toby JonesAnthonie Mackie, Frank Grillo, Hayley Atwell, Maximiliano Hernandez and Georges St-Pierre.

Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.

Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes if you’re hoping for a new Cap costume!

Source: Marvel