Out of all of Marvel's 'Phase Two' properties, it's hard to tell what path Captain America: The Winter Soldier will walk. With the World War II origin story out of the way, and The Avengers largely showing what his role in the modern world would be (while proving his leadership), what's next for Cap?
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) will be getting some back-up from the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and from a similarly-super-powered partner in Anthony Mackie's Falcon. But according to Marvel head Kevin Feige, the sequel won't simply be continuing Captain America's 'fantastic' take on an honorable soldier.
Anyone paying attention to Marvel's current and scheduled slate of films knows that variety is paramount, and each new release helps change what the term 'comic book movie' implies. Speaking with Variety about the genre's longevity - with virtually hundreds of stories to tell from decades of publishing comics - Feige explained his optimism, with particular attention paid to the direction taken with The Winter Soldier:
"If it is a fad, it's one that lasts 30 to 40 years, as the Western did, because each one is so different...There's an opportunity to graft almost sub-genres onto them. Our first Captain America film was a World War II picture, and the next is a political thriller. They all have their own textures and patinas, and that's what is exciting about it."
There's no debating the differences that will be visible in the films bearing the 'Marvel' name, with Thor: The Dark World (2013) calling on Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor for convincing medieval warfare, and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) bringing a twisted take on a science-fiction/fantasy super-team.
But in the case of Captain America 2, 'political thriller' is certainly not what we've been expecting from the directing duo of the Russo brothers (Community). There is precedent for an increase in intrigue, though, as The Avengers showed that the moral lines Steve Rogers is unwilling to cross are ones that S.H.I.E.L.D. tends not to notice. With Nick Fury playing a significant role in the movie, audiences could see him finally answer for Rogers' claim of having "the same blood on his hands as Loki."
There's no reason to think that the rivalry between Rogers' morality and the US government's will end there, especially now that they're recruiting even more soldiers into their super-soldier program. And with the origins of the titular Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) embroiled in international covert operations, there's plenty to work with. But a little political intrigue goes a long way, and this is a Captain America movie.
So before anyone panics that Cap will be constructing his own House of Cards within S.H.I.E.L.D.'s operation, there's no reason to think his enhanced strength won't be his most important weapon. Mackie has called the script "fun," and the return of Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), the introduction of Crossbones (Frank Grillo) and a new love interest in Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) put this movie squarely in the 'comic book' category. Even if Quasar doesn't show.
It's best to take Feige's words as a sign that politics and moral grey areas will be playing a large role in The Winter Soldier, but will probably bear stronger ties to the first movie and The Avengers than, say, The Ides of March (2011). Still, it's nice to see that the studio is continuing to take risks, especially if it means varied experiences for audiences, and more longevity for the genre.
What's your take on Feige's quotes? Would you actually be in favor of The Winter Soldier taking a more serious path with Steve Rogers at its core, or are the more fantastic and whimsical sides of Captain America what you long for? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier begins shooting this April for a release on April 4, 2014.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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