The times they are a-changing, and for Steve Rogers - superhero and agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. - the times changed all too fast as he dropped out of his own time (via an unfortunate freezing incident) and woke up in the 21st century. After being called into action for The Avengers, Steve returns in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and must get to the bottom of an international mystery, face a powerful new adversary and figure out exactly where his loyalties lie.
Every Marvel movie has its own distinctive feel, often dipping into other genres for inspiration, and The Winter Soldier is very much being sold as a '70s political thriller (except for the bit about being set in the '70s). With the film's more sombre, grounded tone comes a more sombre, grounded look for the first Avenger, who has acquired a new outfit that ditches the old red-and-white stripes in favor of plain old silver and blue.
Fans of the comic books may recognize this outfit from Ed Brubaker's comic book "Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier," and in an interview with SFX co-director Joe Russo says that a lot of thought went into the choice of Steve's costume for The Winter Soldier. Whereas the more classic costume style seen in the first movie and The Avengers was appropriate for superhero antics, the outfit that has been described as his "stealth suit" works much better for the portrayal of Steve as a special forces agent:
"It was about a real world grounding approach to the character, in the spirit of Ed Brubaker’s book, which is postmodern and deconstructionist and a grounded thriller. We wanted to put Cap in a space where he’s a special forces operative for SHIELD who goes on missions around the world that are clandestine and sometimes require a certain level of anonymity or stealth.
"We wanted to use his Super Soldier outfit from the comic books as a way to represent, thematically, his place in the world of SHIELD and the difference between working for SHIELD and being Captain America. That’s something that gets explored on a very concrete level in terms of what outfits are used in the film."
Set photos and stills have shown that Steve will wear both his Avengers and the stealth suit in The Winter Soldier, and based on Russo's comments it sounds like it will be worth paying attention to what he is wearing for each mission. This also applied to other members of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, as Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) has been seen both in and out of the mechanical wings that mark him as Steve's flying ally, a.k.a. The Falcon. Russo adds that The Winter Soldier is based more on recent interpretations of Captain America than the classic comics.
"People can say that they’re fans of the books if they’re only loyal to the ‘60s and ‘70s version of the character – well, then you’re a fan of that version of the character, but if you’ve been reading the books till the current runs then this is a journey that the character goes on and it’s a pretty explicit journey. We just felt like we were being faithful to the more recent issues of the books."
Despite having more of a classic comic book aesthetic and plot, Captain America: The First Avenger certainly had its moments of self-awareness and it will be interesting to see the character develop in a mature and complex way as he tries to find a place for himself in the modern world.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is out in theaters on April 4, 2014.