So far, the most common connecting threat between all of the movies (and the new TV show) within the Marvel cinematic universe has been the presence of S.H.I.E.L.D., whose agents have a tendency to show up whenever a superhero - or supervillain - begins making waves that could be considered a disturbance to the public.
Already a number of S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives have been added to the roster for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, including Scarlett Johannson as Natasha Romanoff, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Robert Redford as Agent Alexander Price, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
A new cast member - who may simply be making a cameo appearance - has now been revealed by Tumblr user Gundamdick, who snapped some outdoor filming for Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the Willard Building in Washington, DC. The set photos show comedian Garry Shandling, who bookended Iron Man 2 with his appearance as the smarmy Senator Stern, sharing an awkward embrace with Maximiliano Hernández - S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sitwell (Thor, Item 42). What events led to Stern and Sitwell falling into each other's arms isn't clear, but it could be some kind of a ruse; Sitwell is, after all, a great patsy.
Check out set photos of the pair by clicking on the image below:
Stern isn't so much a villain as he is a pest, with notable feelings of enmity towards Tony Stark that are born out of a supposed concern for the threat that unchained superheroes might present to domestic security. It's possible that he'll play a similar role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier - despite Captain Rogers' military allegiance, he and the rest of the gang more or less went rogue at the end of The Avengers in order to take on Loki.
Considering the fact that Marvel lost the support of the U.S. military in real life due to misgivings about the ambiguous nature of S.H.I.E.L.D., it's entirely feasible that Stern might have a similar level of distrust in the film. This would also fit with what screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have said about using Captain America: The Winter Soldier to determine "where loyalties lie," and their description of the film as a "modern conspiracy political thriller."
Set photos and videos from the Washington, DC shoot have shown that Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie are all in the city shooting various scenes as well. CBM mentioned unconfirmed reports of a funeral scene taking place, due to sightings of flags flown at half-mast and bagpipes being played, as well as Evans appearing in a grey suit and aviators.
With Captain America: The Winter Soldier shaping up to have almost as many different character appearances as The Avengers, is there anyone else you're hoping will get a cameo? After all, with Agent Coulson back on his feet again, it wouldn't be surprising to find him watching Cap and the others from afar to make sure they're behaving themselves.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrives in US theaters on April 4, 2014.