With Guardians of the Galaxy on the verge of getting a director, Iron Man 3 in production and The Avengers 2 confirming its director and release date, the sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger has taken somewhat of a (relative) backseat in the media since having its official title revealed at Comic-Con.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier may begin production by the end of the year with brothers Anthony and Joe Russo directing a cast that will see Anthony Mackie joining the franchise as another Marvel hero, along with a new female lead.
The New York Post has the scoop which lists Anna Kendrick, Felicity Jones and Imogen Poots as the current top three contenders for the role of the female lead and potential love interest of Steve Rogers in his first solo film based in modern times. British actress Hayley Atwell held that honor the first time around. The report potentially disproves rumors and theories that Atwell could return to play another member of her family 70 years later in the series timeline.
Knowing that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is serving partly as a S.H.I.E.L.D. film due to Steve Rogers' role in the organization after awakening in the modern era and post-Avengers, it's a safe bet that the role the brothers Russo are casting for is that of Sharon Carter (aka Agent 13). Carter is not only a member of Nick Fury's agency, but she's the niece of Peggy Carter (Atwell), the love interest of Cap in the first film.
The following synopsis was released by Marvel Studios in April along with the official Captain America 2 release date:
The Walt Disney Studios has announced a release date for Marvel Studios’ sequel to the blockbuster Captain America: The First Avenger on April 4, 2014. The second installment will pick-up where the highly anticipated Marvel’s The Avengers (May 4, 2012) leaves off, as Steve Rogers continues his affiliation with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D and struggles to embrace his role in the modern world.
Anthony and Joe Russo strongly hinted that the Captain America sequel would include flashback sequences, most of which will undoubtedly be used to service the story of the The Winter Soldier, but it's possible they could be used for another appearance of Atwell in the role of WWII-era Carter.
As for modern day Carter, of the three reported contenders for the role, Kendrick has a somewhat similar facial appearance (and the most notable resume of work), but Jones (the oldest of the three at 28) has the British heritage and look of Sharon Carter from the comics with the right hair color. My money is on her. Who would you pick?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier stars Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan and potentially several familiar faces from the past. It will be directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.
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, 2014 and The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015.
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Source: New York Post
Sharon Carter is a sketch cover for the Bendis/Romita Jr. Avengers #1 by Richard Cox.