In “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (the first sequel to 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger”), Steve Rogers/Captain America (played by Chris Evans) gets caught up in another top-secret experiment born from corruption, greed and a quest for world domination. This time, Captain America must battle the superhuman powers of the Winter Soldier (played by Sebastian Stan), a mysterious mutant with a connection to Steve Rogers’ past. [Spoiler alert for those who don’t know the story in the “Captain America” comics: The Winter Soldier is really Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers’ best friend from his past life.]
At 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” director brothers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige were joined by several stars of the movie for a panel discussion, followed by a press conference. The movie’s cast members in attendance were Evans, Stan, Scarlett Johansson (who plays Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson (who plays Nick Fury), Anthony Mackie (who plays Sam Wilson/Falcon), Emily VanCamp (who plays Kate), Cobie Smulders (who plays Maria Hill) and Frank Grillo (who plays Brock Rumlow). Here is what was said in the panel discussion.
Chris, how does it feel to go back each time you put on that Captain America suit?
Evans: It’s getting better every time I put it back on. It’s satisfying knowing that the movies are good. It would really bother me if the franchise I was stuck with wasn’t making good products, but it turns out that Marvel knows what they’re doing. So every time, you get excited. You can’t wait to see what they’re going to do.
Does Steve Rogers feel comfortable in our modern world?
Evans: He’s getting there. It’s not so much about his shock, like, “Oh, the Internet!” It’s more about the societal differences from the ‘40s to today. He comes from a world that is more trusting. The threats weren’t as deep. In the world we live in right now, it’s hard to know what’s right and wrong, what’s good or bad. In the ‘40s, I think we can all agree that Nazis are bad. It’s black and white. But today, it’s hard to know who’s right and who’s wrong. Sometimes the actions you have to take to remove certain threats compromise our civil liberties, our privacy. And that’s a tough seed to swallow.
How much is Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow part of the “Captain America: Winter Soldier” story?
Johansson: Obviously, when we find these characters [Captain America and Black Widow], it’s in real time, and they’ve been working together for a couple of years. They have a shorthand between them. They’re really kind of partners.
We didn’t see a lot of interaction between them in “The Avengers,” but now, they have this relationship that they built, which I think is an opportunity to see — I don’t want to say the “civilian side of Natasha,” but we get to see how she is in more casual-looking relationships. It kind of breaks down the barriers of this wall that she’s put up a little bit.
Is there more fighting for Black Widow in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” compared to the fighting she did in “The Avengers”?
Johansson: This film is gritty. It’s got a lot of down-and-dirty, knuckle-baring fighting and all that stuff. There’s a lot of action in this film.
What’s Natasha Romonoff’s relationship to Steve Rogers?
Johansson: They’re unexpectedly similar.
Evans: I’d say it’s like an odd couple. I think we each have different approaches to morality. They need one another.
Johansson: They learn from each other as well.
Evans: That does not mean sex!
Sam, how does it feel when the eye patch goes on and you’re in Nick Fury mode?
Jackson: Pretty bad.
How does Nick Fury view these superheroes who team up with S.H.I.E.L.D.? Does he view them as children or co-workers? Does he feel responsible for them?
Jackson: They are co-workers, subordinates, in a sense, instruments of justice in another way, tools, people that he cares about. He doesn’t have the same relationship with everybody.
Me and Steve have a way of talking. He knows the world he came from, so we talk in that way. He also knows that this black-and-white thing about who the enemy is, who the good guys are. He lives in a world now where some of those enemies, or those he perceives as enemies, may now be accomplices, and he doesn’t know how that happens or how that works.
But that’s the gray area of S.H.I.E.L.D. and people in that shadowy world that he has to work with. Almost everything that comes out of Nick Fury’s mouth is a lie. He has to figure out, “Am I lying to myself too?” There’s always that too.
Is it fair to think that Nick Fury usually knows what’s going on?
Jackson: He as a good idea of what’s going on, but his paranoia confuses him on what’s going on, if it’s going this way or that way, so he kind of goes around the corner and sees what’s really happening.
Sebastian, how did you feel about the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes story line?
Stan: I felt great. I was very happy that the story was going to come to life on screen.
Kevin, how closely is “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” sticking to the Ed Brubaker story that’s in the comics?
Feige: It’s pretty close in the specifics, as they relate to Bucky. Maybe for people who’ve read the story, it’s not a twist. That’s why we released both names [Bucky Barnes and the Winter Soldier, as both being played by Sebastian Stan].
But in the movie, it’s a surprise to [Steve Rogers/Captain America], and that’s what matters — and if people don’t know it when they go into the theater, that’s even better. But really, the surprise is for Cap.
Anthony Mackie, tell us about the Falcon.
Mackie: I’m introducing the Falcon/Sam Wilson. I have wings and guns. That’s all you need, right? Wings and guns! That’s all I got!
Me and Cap, we give him the business [he points to Stan], we give him the business [he points to Grillo], they give us some. We just handin’ out business! That’s what we do in “Captain America 2.” That rhymes. Album’s coming out in December.
Kevin, what was it about Anthony and Joe Russo that made you decide that these were the directors for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”?
Feige: At Marvel, we’ve always been rewarded. The [directors] don’t have to be the same. But these guys [Anthony and Joe Russo] were part of a show called “Arrested Development,” and I kept seeing their name pop up again and again.
How did you get Robert Redford to be in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”?
Joe Russo: He’s fantastic in it. His tone is derived from the ‘70s, those political thrillers. He did a great performance and really inhabited the film. It really makes it feel like it’s come full circle.
Anthony and Joe Russo, was directing “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” daunting or exciting?
Joe Russo: It was fun. We keep saying it was the best job we ever had. I started collecting comic books when I was 10, so to be able to present this footage at Hall H [at Comic-Con International] is a dream come true.
Cobie, where is Maria Hill in this story?
Smulders: S.H.I.E.L.D. is picking up where they left off after the battle in New York [in 2012’s “The Avengers” movie]. The world is still reeling over the reveal of superheroes and aliens. S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying to find its place in this new world.
Hill is with Fury again, and we’re trying to keep everybody in check. There are some new people coming up who are, and Maria’s part is … I can’t reveal too much. It’s very hard to talk about. It’s basically trying to find a way in this new world where we find ourselves.
Emily, what’s it been like to come into the Marvel superhero movie franchise?
VanCamp: It’s been awesome! I’d be lying if I didn’t say it wasn’t a little bit intimidating. It’s an awesome experience. It’s a great character to play. We’re really sort of introducing this character. I can’t say too much. It’s been awesome.
What about you, Frank?
Grillo: We can’t say much, but it’s a lot of fun. That’s all I can say.
For more info: "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" website