If Steve Rogers thought that getting accepted into the US Army was hard, he's in for a rude awakening in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While the superhero's last appearance left him with a new calling, a new world, and a new team, that's all going to be cast aside when a figure from his past returns to shatter him - forget his shield.
Billed by Marvel as more of a "political thriller" than a superhero movie, the Russo Brothers gave a few more details on the political climate, the new relationships, and yes, the new uniform fans can look forward to seeing when the film is released. Potential spoilers for those who still don't know the meaning of the 'Winter Soldier' lie ahead.
With Thor: The Dark World taking most of the attention recently, the Russo brothers spoke to IGN at this week's Disney D23 Expo, providing an update on the film, and offering a few answers to nagging questions.
For starters, the title. According to the directors, the surprisingly dark and grim tone of the original "Winter Soldier" comic book arc (written by Ed Brubaker) may have made it less whimsical than some of Marvel's past adventures, but that was the exact reason they wanted to adapt it to film:
Joe: "Brubaker's run, to me, is - we're big comic book fans - that's one of my favorite books ever in comics. I think it's amazing. I thought the way he brought that character back, the sort of post-modern dent that he put on it was genius. As a director, it's a gift to have a villain who is so close to the hero emotionally. Really motivates the hero, and provides really interesting surprises.
"And then the other big thing that really drew us to the project was Marvel's desire to take Captain America and merge him with a '70s political thriller. It gave the storytelling a real bite, a real texture, a real verite quality. And we felt like... we're living in complicated times. And similar to the '70s you can find some real overt political tones that you can play with that really resonate to an audience."
Anthony: "The thing about Captain America is he's such a strong character; so morally grounded, he's a hard character to crack, because he's so stalwart. So to have a villain who is his former best friend, it's such a complicated, difficult relationship for him to be in, that's one way you get to a character that's as tough as Cap."
Of course, for the conflict to include anyone other than Cap's former friend and reach the heights of true 'political intrigue,' S.H.I.E.L.D. has to be involved. Although it was the government organization that rescued Steve Rogers and returned him to service, things may not be as friendly between the man and the shadowy organization as some might think.
Although the events of The Avengers forced Captain America to fight on their behalf, Rogers made it clear that he doesn't just have doubts about S.H.I.E.L.D.'s motives, but their methods as well (weaponizing the Tesseract, for starters). And while more pressing matters may have been involved in Avengers, Rogers has time to question his loyalties. And as the footage screened at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 showed, that could even mean harming those he's supposed to fight beside.
So how can S.H.I.E.L.D. go from a heroic organization to a shadowy opposition? While spoilers on that topic may have already been dropped, Joe Russo explains:
"Like any covert organization, there's only so much information they will parse out to their employees, and the people at the top know the most information. So Cap and Nick Fury have a little bit of a conflict in this film: Cap feels like he's left in the dark, and that Nick doesn't always operate in the truth, and for Cap, who's got a strong moral center, that's a complicated position to be in. He's not quite sure whether he likes his new employees or whether he wants to stay with them. That's really the crux of the film."
While that plot summary might imply that Steve Rogers will be standing alone in The Winter Soldier, we know that's not the case. Not only will Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) be returning to work at Cap's side, but Sharon Carter has also been cast. While fans had previously assumed that Emily VanCamp's Sharon Carter a.k.a. Agent 13 would be introduced as a love interest highly-placed within S.H.I.E.L.D., we learned that wouldn't be the case at Comic-Con.
So how will Cap find room for these new women in his life? Joe Russo explains:
"Well, it's really an introductory film for Sharon - for Agent 13. For Black Widow, it's a very strong relationship with the two of them in this film. Chris and Scarlett really play off eachother very well in the film; they are paired up, it's definitely a two-hander. What we loved about the relationship is Cap has a very strong moral code, she does not; he operates in the truth, she doesn't. So that creates conflict between the two characters, it creates an interesting 'Odd Couple' pairing and for us, the journey that they go on together is the heart of the movie."
Now that romance is out of the way, let's get to fashion. After concept art of Captain America's brand new costume leaked online, Marvel was quick to silence the leaks (as best they could). Modeled heavily after the "Secret Avengers" version of Rogers' costume, the new suit is darker, sleeker, and far more fitting for a covert operative:
Anthony: "The first look he has in the movie is what we refer to as 'the stealth suit,' which is his uniform that he wears now as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's a suit that he goes on covert operations in... it's dark, stealth-like, it's based on military styling and designed for body protection. We wanted to do a very grounded version of what the uniform could be for a man who's the greatest soldier in the world, now, today."
Joe: "It's really reflective of what kinds of missions he would have to go on working for a covert agency like S.H.I.E.L.D. And then whatever other uniforms may appear in the film are a surprise, and we'll save that for the viewing of the movie."
With The Winter Soldier still a ways away from release, we expect Marvel to give Thor the lion's share of attention and publicity. Until Cap takes his turn in the spotlight, which elements of the movie are you most intrigued by? The politics, or the action? Sound off in the comments.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be in theaters on April 4, 2014.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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