Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who wrote Captain America: The First Avenger, stated before that film's release that they were working on a sequel and in June 2012, Anthony and Joe Russo entered negotiations to direct. The following month, casting of the supporting roles began with the additions of Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. Principal photography commenced in April 2013 in Los Angeles, California with filming scheduled to continue in Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, D.C. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released on April 4, 2014 in 2D and 3D.
Two years after the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers resides peacefully in Washington, D.C., struggling to adapt to contemporary society. However, after a S.H.I.E.L.D. compatriot is assailed, Steve becomes entangled in a mystery that may endanger the globe. Together with Natasha Romanoff, Captain America attempts to uncover the growing machination while fending off hired hit men. When the entire scheme is discovered, Captain America and the Black Widow must recruit the aid of the Falcon and soon encounter an unanticipated and powerful adversary — the Winter Soldier.
Two years after the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers lives in Washington, D.C., continues to work for the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and struggles to adapt to contemporary society. After meeting and befriending former Pararescue war veteran and P.T.S.D. counselor Sam Wilson on a morning jog, Rogers is called to help save a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel from Algerian pirates led by Georges Batroc. Aboard, he discovers fellow agent Natasha Romanoff extracting data from the ship's computers, something Rogers was not briefed on. At the Triskelion (S.H.I.E.L.D. main headquarters) Nick Fury introduces Rogers to Project Insight; three Helicarriers linked to spy satellites and designed to preemptively eliminate threats.
Due to heightened encryption, Fury is unable to access the data Romanoff recovered. On his way to rendezvous with Maria Hill, he is ambushed by assailants disguised as police officers, led by a mysterious assassin called the Winter Soldier. Fury escapes, sneaks into Rogers' apartment, and informs Rogers that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised. After Fury hands Rogers the USB flash drive with the data from the ship, he is gunned down by the Winter Soldier. Rogers gives chase, and his neighbor reveals herself as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Agent 13. Fury appears to die in surgery, and Hill recovers the body.
The next day, Rogers is summoned by senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce. When Rogers withholds Fury's information, Pierce brands him a fugitive. Hunted by the agency, Rogers meets with Romanoff. Using data in the flash drive they discover an old S.H.I.E.L.D. underground base in New Jersey. There, they activate a supercomputer containing the preserved consciousness of Arnim Zola, who reveals that since S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded after World War II, HYDRA secretly operated within its ranks, sowing chaos across the world in the hope that humanity would willingly surrender its freedom in exchange for safety. Rogers and Romanoff narrowly escape death when a S.H.I.E.L.D. missile destroys the bunker.
They enlist the help of Wilson, and acquire his old "Falcon" winged-flight exoskeleton. After deducing that senior S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell is with HYDRA, they interrogate him until he reveals Zola developed a data-mining algorithm that can identify individuals who might become future opponents to HYDRA's plans. The new helicarriers will sweep the country, eliminating these individuals with their satellite-guided guns.
En route to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, they are ambushed by the Winter Soldier. In the fight, Winter Soldier loses his mask and Rogers recognizes him as Bucky, his old World War II comrade. They are captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. but are rescued by a disguised Hill. She leads them to a hideout where they discover Fury is alive and planning a mission to prevent Pierce from launching Project Insight by replacing a chip within each Helicarrier to override their satellite control.
After members of the World Security Council arrive for the Helicarriers' launch, Pierce holds them hostage and reveals HYDRA's true riot motives. Rogers and Wilson storm two Helicarriers and replace the controllers, but the Winter Soldier destroys Wilson's suit and confronts Rogers at the third. They fight, with Rogers trying to revive Bucky's memories. Meanwhile, Fury and Romanoff confront Pierce and force him to unlock access to S.H.I.E.L.D's database so Romanoff can expose HYDRA's motives to the public by leaking classified information. After a brief conflict, Fury shoots Pierce dead. Aboard the third Helicarrier, a wounded Rogers replaces the final controller, allowing Hill to override the satellite operation and have all three vessels destroy one another. The Helicarrier carrying Rogers and the Winter Soldier crashes into the side of the Triskelion, where Wilson battles compromised agent Rumlow, who had earlier tried to capture Rogers.
Rogers falls off the vessel into the river. The Winter Soldier decides to save his friend and pulls Rogers from the water before disappearing. With S.H.I.E.L.D. in disarray, Fury destroys the last traces of his identity before heading to Europe in pursuit of HYDRA's remaining cells under the cover of his apparent death. Romanoff appears before a Senate subcommittee and later gives Rogers a dossier on the Winter Soldier program. Both Rogers and Wilson decide to track down the Winter Soldier.
In a post-credits scene, the Winter Soldier visits the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution to learn of his past.
- A World War II veteran who was enhanced to the peak of human physicality by an experimental serum, frozen in suspended animation, and is now struggling to adjust to the modern world. Producer Kevin Feige said that Rogers reluctantly remains with S.H.I.E.L.D. after the events of The Avengers "because he has nowhere else to go... Things were black and white back then (in World War II), and now it's hard to know who the bad guys are. We wanted to play on that a little with Cap being uncomfortable with the way S.H.I.E.L.D., and in particular Nick Fury, operates." Describing his character's adjustment to the modern world, Evans said, "It's not so much about his shock with [technology]... It's more about the societal differences. He's gone from the 40's to today; he comes from a world where people were a little more trusting, the threats not as deep. Now, it's harder to tell who's right and wrong. Actions you take to protect people from threats could compromise liberties and privacy. That's tough for Steve to swallow."
- A highly trained spy working for S.H.I.E.L.D., who partners with Rogers. Screenwriter Christopher Markus said that Black Widow was a "great contrast" to Captain America, describing her as "incredibly modern, not very reverent, and just very straightforward whereas Steve is, you know a man from the 40's. He's not a boy scout, but he is reserved and has a moral center, whereas her moral center moves." When asked about Natasha's relationship with Steve, Johansson said "Their working relationship becomes a more intimate friendship. They have some unexpected similarities – they both have their guard up, they have trust issues, and they've also both been working for 'the man' for their entire career. Through this unexpected friendship that forms, they both start to question what they want."
- Steve Rogers' best friend, who is turned into a brainwashed assassin. Kevin Feige stated that Bucky's role in the film will adhere closely to Ed Brubaker's Winter Soldier storyline in the comics. To prepare for the role, Stan endured five months of physical training and did historical research. "I dove into the whole cold war thing," said Stan. "I looked at the KGB. I looked at all kinds of spy movies, and all kinds of documentaries about that time, and what it was about. I grabbed anything from that time period. Anything about brainwashing."
- A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with the ability to fly and speak telepathically with birds. About the role, Mackie said "I'm playing the Falcon. He's this guy in Harlem who moved to California and became a drug dealer. His plane crashed, and he was genetically altered, he can fly, and has telepathic powers. He's the first African-American superhero. It makes me feel all the work I've done has been paying off. I have a son, nephews and nieces, and I love the idea that they can dress up as the Falcon on Halloween. They now have someone they can idolize. That's a huge honor for me." Mackie stated that Marvel did not let him read a script before signing on, and that he would spend five months doing two-a-day workouts and eating an 11,000 calorie per day diet to get into shape for the role. Mackie also revealed that Wilson is "a really smart guy who went through major military training and becomes a tactical leader."
- Agent Maria Hill proved her worth and her loyalty to both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury during the events in New York with The Avengers. When she is called to come to Fury's aid, Hill is drawn into the wide-ranging conspiracy unfolding in Washington, D.C. that has completely entangled both him and Steve Rogers.
- Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow / Crossbones:
- A highly trained operative on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s counter-terrorism S.T.R.I.K.E team, Rumlow is an excellent soldier and often battles side-by-side with Captain America, for whom he has great respect. Despite his respect, however, he has no hesitation in trying to take out Captain America out when it became apparent that he was a threat to HYDRA's goals, as they secretly ran S.H.I.E.L.D., and by extension S.T.R.I.K.E.
- A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and Steve Rogers' neighbor, who initially goes by the name of "Kate". VanCamp says her character takes an "interesting turn" as the plot develops and that this movie is "just the beginning for the character." About her casting, Joe Russo said, "We wanted someone that Cap would have an immediate interest in. It had to be a strong-willed person, and we felt that Emily's work on Revenge was a great test tube for what this character could be. She's obviously very credible with physicality, she holds the screen really well, and she even looks like the character from the books."
- An officer with the Strategic Scientific Reserve and former love interest of Captain America.
- Georges St-Pierre as Georges Batroc:
- A mercenary and a master of the French form of kickboxing known as savate St-Pierre, a UFC welterweight champion, elaborated, "My character is a French mercenary, speaks French, a martial arts expert of savate, [and an] Olympic lifting champion. [He is] a little bit like a guy who can jump really high and stuff... he's called a leaper. The character fit me well."
- A senior leader within S.H.I.E.L.D. and a member of the World Security Council. He is also an old comrade of Nick Fury. Redford was cast in part as an homage to his roles in 1970s thrillers such as Three Days of the Condor.
- The director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Regarding Fury's questionable code of ethics, Jackson said, "Almost everything that comes out of Nick Fury's mouth is a lie in some sense. He has to ask, is he even lying to himself, too? He has a very good idea of what's going on but his paranoia keeps him from believing some of it." Jackson added, "You see Nick Fury the office guy, him going about the day-to-day work of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the politics as opposed to that other stuff. It's great to have him dealing with Captain America in terms of being able to speak to him soldier to soldier and try to explain to him how the world has changed in another way while he was frozen in time. Some of the people who used to be our enemies are now our allies — him trying to figure out, 'Well, how do we trust those guys?' or 'How do we trust the guys that you didn't trust who don't trust you?' And explaining to him that the black and white of good guys/bad guys has now turned into this gray area."
Additionally, Toby Jones , Maximiliano Hernández, Dominic Cooper and Garry Shandling reprise their roles from previous films as Arnim Zola, Jasper Sitwell, Howard Stark and Senator Stern, respectively. Chin Han, Jenny Agutter (who previously appeared in The Avengers as a member of the World Security Council), Alan Dale and Bernard White have been cast as members of Pierce's S.H.I.E.L.D. team. Stan Lee made a cameo appearance as a Smithsonian security guard. Thomas Kretschmann appears as Baron Strucker in a mid-credits scene alongside Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver.
In June 2013, Henry Jackman announced that he will compose the film's score.
In July 2013, Marvel Studios released a teaser poster depicting a damaged and discolored Captain America shield. The Los Angeles Times said, "the image suggests that [Captain America] might see some serious battle in the sequel" while Rolling Stone said, "the image hints at darker themes in the sequel". Later that month, Marvel Studios head and producer Kevin Feige, directors Joe and Anthony Russo, and cast members Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Emily VanCamp, and Frank Grillo held a panel at 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International and presented footage from the film. In addition, Marvel had booths depicting a Smithsonian-type exhibit showing Captain America and the Howling Commandos from Captain America: The First Avenger. At the end of the month, audiences were shown a glimpse of the film along with some of Marvel's other Phase 2 slate of films at Disney XD's Disney Fandom event.
In August 2013, Kevin Feige, Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie presented a clip of the film at Disney's D23 Expo. In September 2013, it was reported that Marvel would once again partner with Harley-Davidson, continuing their relationship from Captain America: The First Avenger, with Captain America riding the company's Softail Breakout motorcycle in the film.
In October 2013, Marvel released the first trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Hollywood Reporter said, "it looks like it'll live up to the 'political thriller' that's been promised for months now." The Los Angeles Times said, "[the] trailer runs 2½ minutes and teases plenty of action, conspiracy and clever banter between Captain America and his S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues, with a smattering of the previously released Comic-Con International and D23 footage." The Los Angeles Times also noted that the day before the release of the trailer, the studio released "a teaser for a trailer."
Five minutes of the film was screened in front of the 3D version of Thor: The Dark World.
In a November 2013 interview with TV Guide, Jed Whedon, the co-creator of the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., stated that there are plans to reference events from the film into the show. "Nick Fury is in [Captain America: The Winter Soldier], and S.H.I.E.L.D. makes an appearance, so we will definitely try to tee-up some stuff and probably play a little bit of the fallout from that film," said Whedon.
In January 2014, Disney announced that in honor of the film, Captain America will be making appearances at Disneyland starting in Spring 2014. The first televised advertisement for Captain America: The Winter Soldier is scheduled to air during Super Bowl XLVIII. Disney paid over $4 million per 30-second spot. Also in January, Marvel Comics released a prelude digital comic titled, Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier Infinite Comic, written by Peter David, with art by Rock-He Kim. The comic introduces a mysterious weapon called the "Zodiac," which has fallen into the enemies hands.
On May 30th, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment announced Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be available on Digital 3D, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on August 19 and the home theatre release date will be September 9th 2014.
In January 2014, Variety reported that both Anthony and Joe Russo would return to direct a third installment, with Chris Evans returning as Captain America and Kevin Fiege producing. The re-hiring of the directors, three months before the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, came as a result from impressive test screenings with Marvel executives. Markus and McFeely revealed that they had been working on the script for the film since late 2013. The film is scheduled to be released on May 6, 2016.
- Disney stated, "[The second installment] will pick-up where The Avengers 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."
- In July 2012, Anthony Mackie entered negotiations to star as the Falcon alongside Chris Evans, while Sebastian Stan was also reported to be reprising his role as James "Bucky" Barnes.
- Anna Kendrick, Felicity Jones, Imogen Poots, Teresa Palmer, Alison Brie, Emilia Clarke and Jessica Brown Findlay were considered to play the female lead but ultimately Emily VanCamp was cast as the female lead who is believed to be Sharon Carter. Jones would later be cast in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Jessica Brown Findlay later appeared in "Iron Man 3" as the film used footage of her from "Downton Abbey".
- At the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced that the official title for the sequel will be Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- In September 2012, Chris Evans stated that filming would begin in March 2013. Evans also stated that Rogers' adjustment to the modern world, which was originally set to be included in The Avengers, would be better suited for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- The working title for on-set was "Freezer Burn".
- In February 2013, Emily VanCamp entered negotiations to play the female lead in the film. Later in the same month, producer Kevin Feige described the film as a political thriller.
- In January 2013, Hayley Atwell, who played Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, said that she will not appear in the sequel. However 'Stanley Tucci', who played Dr. Abraham Erskine in the previous film, later said that Atwell will reappear in a flashback scene. He also stated that he, as Erskine, will not be making an appearance.
- Ed Brubaker was as surprised as the fans were when Marvel announced the title of 2014's Captain America sequel, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which directly references Brubaker's work on the title and his biggest contribution to the Marvel Universe - the return of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier. "It's definitely out of my hands," Brubaker says, laughing. "But no, I got to go out to Marvel Studios a couple months ago and read one of the later drafts of the script. I went out to dinner with directors Joe and Anthony Russo and talked about the project and gave them feedback on what I liked or didn't like or what parts didn't work. I mean, the script I read was [frick]ing fantastic. It was the best Marvel movie."
- Marks the fourth time Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson have worked together, both starring in "The Perfect Score", "The Nanny Diaries" and "The Avengers" prior to filming.
- Unlike the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "The Winter Soldier" minimizes the use of visual effects as much as possible. Anthony Mackie, elaborated: "The Russos, what they did that was so great was, they wanted to stay with live action, which is a dying art form...If they could build it, they built it. If we could do it, we did it. They wanted to do as little CGI as possible. That's why the movie looks so great."
- According to 'Chris Evans' Steve Rogers continues his adjustment to the modern world, which began in The Avengers: "It's not so much about his shock with technology... It's more about the societal differences. He's gone from the 1940s to today; he comes from a world where people were a little more trusting, the threats not as deep. Now, it's harder to tell who's right and wrong. Actions you take to protect people from threats could compromise liberties and privacy. That's tough for Steve to swallow."
- Anthony Mackie was unhappy with the modern take on his costume as Falcon. He wanted the red spandex look from the comics. The costume he wears is from the Ultimate version of Falcon.
- To prepare for the role of the Winter Solder, 'Sebastian Stan' went through five months of physical training and historical research: "I dove into the whole Cold War history: I looked at the KGB. I looked at all kinds of spy movies, and all kinds of documentaries about that time, and what it was about. I grabbed anything from that time period and anything about brainwashing."
- Robert Redford was cast in part as an homage to his roles in 1970s thrillers like Three Days of the Condor.
- Kevin Feige described the film as "a 1970s political thriller masquerading as a big superhero movie.
- Georges St-Pierre, who plays Batroc the Leaper, is a UFC welterweight champion.
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kevin Durand and Josh Holloway screen-tested for the role of Brock Rumlow.
- The Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) is able to match Captain America (Steve Rogers) move by move, even to the point of catching Rogers' shield. This foreshadows Barnes taking over as Captain America (which happened in the comics).
- Alexander Pierce is based on his appearance in the Marvel Comics (a SHIELD agent), but incorporates Aleksander Lukin (an agent under the Winter Soldier, possessed by Arnim Zola in the film when it was the Red Skull in the comics).
- Samuel L. Jackson describes Nick Fury as facing a crisis: "Almost everything that comes out of Nick Fury's mouth is a lie in some sense. He has to ask if he is even lying to himself?"
- The premise of the film was based on the enemies list issued by President Obama as well as the tactics of the NSA.
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