We all knew Captain America's first big screen outing since the ill-advised 1990 version was going to be big, but nobody quite predicted just how big. Debuting with roughly $65.8m in the US, it quickly became the highest-grossing superhero movie of 2011, beating the openings of Thor and X-Men: First Class.
Even more impressively, it knocked Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 off the top spot. How about that Steve Rogers, eh?
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In the aftermath of the first film's success, the rumour mill quickly kicked in on the sequel - even screenwriters Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely seemed unsure about exactly where the Cap's next adventure would take him.
“The span of [Captain America: The First Avenger] is about two or three years, and there’s a few times in the film where you jump four months ahead, you jump six months ahead,” McFeely said. “So we did that with the intention of saying, ‘Okay, there are certainly unseen adventures that Captain America went on in that period that if we want to, we can go back and explore later.’”
McFeely did hint that the plot might take place in the '70s, though, with Cap's buddy Falcon apparently set to enter stage left. “It would be awesome to go straight up, like Shaft with Cap and the Falcon.”
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A 2014 Return
With Avengers Assemble on the horizon, Chris Evans revealed that it was unlikely he'd get a solo outing as Captain America until 2014.
"They may wait until 2014 until they release the next Cap ," he told The Playlist. "Marvel has a lot of balls in the air, they aren’t going to cannibalise their films.”
On the small matter of the fact that he was contracted to six films, he added somewhat teasingly: “Out of those six films, if I pop up in one of those [other films], it counts as part of the deal. So if they needed me in a third Cap , and I say, ‘Fuck you, give me $30 million,’ well… they want to avoid that.”
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Dum Dum Wants In
Neal McDonough pitched up in Captain America: The First Avenger as Dum Dum Dugan, and when MTV caught up with the actor in October 2011, he was keen on jumping into a sequel.
"I can't wait to do Cap 2 ," he said. Though he hadn't been in contact with the film's producers, McDonough did reveal what it was that first attracted him to the role
"Here's a guy from Boston like myself who's this big, brawly, all-America ass kicker. I was like, 'Oh, ok. That's easy to play. That's me. That's kind of the world that I grew up in. For me, it was pretty simple to jump into that."
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By March 2012, it seemed that every man and his dog (in Hollywood, anyway) was lining up for the Captain America 2 directing gig.
According to Vulture, though, Marvel had its eye focussed on Community duo Anthony and Joseph Russo.
The site's source said: "Kevin [Feige, Marvel Studios’ president of production ] is a ‘vibe guy'. He likes to see if he gets along with people before he’ll decide about spending the next two years with them. And apparently, they hit it off with Kevin in the room."
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Though the sequel to The First Avenger still had no title and no official directors, Marvel and Disney announced in April 2012 that the Cap would be returning to cinemas on 4 April 2014 (in the US, with a UK date of 28 March 2014).
Not only that, the studio's press release hinted at the film's plot, too: "The second instalment will pick-up where the highly-anticipated Marvel’s 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."
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With Anthony and Joseph Russo still the favourites for directing Captain America 2, one person who waded in with his support was Donald Glover, whom the duo directed on Community .
"I was talking to them, actually. I didn't know it was that project. They were like, 'Yeah, we're thinking about directing this thing.' Honestly, I think they'd be a perfect fit," he said. "I mean you watch Community , everything is based on a movie, different types of genres and stuff. Them directing it kind of makes sense. I think they'd do a good job."
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With the plot of Captain America 2 confirmed to be set in modern day, hopes for a reunion between Steve Rogers and his love Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) were all but ruined.
Joss Whedon gave us hope that Carter could still be alive in present day, though, revealing that a cut scene from Avengers would have reunited the pair in modern times.
"One of the best scenes that I wrote was the beautiful and poignant scene between Steve and Peggy [ Carter ] that takes place in the present," he said. "And I was the one who was like, 'Guys, we need to lose this.' It was killing the rhythm of the thing. And we did have a lot of Cap, because he really was the 'in' for me.
"I really do feel a sense of loss about what's happening in our culture, loss of the idea of community, loss of health care and welfare and all sorts of things. I was spending a lot of time having him say it, and then I cut that."
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With Avengers Assemble due in cinemas, The Huffington Post cornered Kevin Feige on future/Phase Two Marvel projects. With regard to Captain America 2 , the paper noted that Caps often has a sidekick in the comics. Could the same happen in Cap 2 ?
"It is interesting that you ask that question," Feige mused. "And I'm not going to give you an answer. But I will give you kudos for pointing that out and recognising that." When pressed on the Caps/Falcon team-up in the comics, Feige conceded: "That was a fun era."
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Doing the Avengers circuit, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth chatted to MTV News about the possibility of making cameos in each others' solo Marvel outings. And it seemed both were keen on the idea.
"I'd love to, I think that would be a great thing," Evans said of a potential Thor 2 cameo. "We should do that!" Hemsworth said. "I want to," Evans said. But will Thor return the favour by turning up in Cap 2 ?
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With Avengers Assemble opening in cinemas in just a day's time, Kevin Feige found himself put under the spotlight on future releases again.
On the subject of Captain America 2 , the Marvel honcho revealed that the sequel would be very different from its predecessor. "There’s another Captain America film in the works," he said.
"Cap’s in the modern day now. So if we looked at war movies from the ’40s as our inspiration for the first Cap , the next one we’re looking at very different movies, very different inspiration. So it will almost be a different genre of film, which I’ve never seen before in a sequel."
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On 6 June 2012, The Hollywood Reporter got wind that Joe and Anthony Russo were in final negotiations to sign on as the directors of Captain America 2.
According to THR , the duo was Marvel's favourites over the likes of George Nolfi ( The Adjustment Bureau ) and F. Gary Gray. Negotiations lasted for a month before Marvel finally confirmed that the Russos had landed the gig.
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Another person unsure if they would return for Captain America 2 , given the sequel's jump from period setting to modern day, was Dominic Cooper, who played Howard Stark in The First Avenger.
"I just don’t know," Cooper told Collider about his potential return. "That one probably, because I’m the father, the next one I imagine will come later. But you never know, anything can happen to any of the characters at any time. They’re like the comics. But I don’t know. They’re incredible projects."
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The Winter Soldier
Marvel didn't disappoint at the 2012 Comic-Con. Not only did its panel include footage and sneak peeks at Guardians Of The Galaxy , the studio also chose Hall H as the place to reveal the official title for Captain America 2.
That title turned out to be Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Which, naturally, whipped the crowd up into a frenzy - not least when it appeared on-screen…
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Falcon Flies In
Just days after the title of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was confirmed, Anthony Mackie was cast as Cap's sidekick Falcon.
Meanwhile, Marvel confirmed that Sebastian Stan would be returning as Bucky Barnes, who apparently plummeted to his death in Captain America: The First Avenger. No big surprise, considering Bucky becomes that all-important The Winter Soldier in the comics…
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SFX magazine caught up with Marvel COO Joe Quesada, who talked a little bit about Marvel's Phase Two. Key word? Diversity.
"The goal is to mine different territory to what we have already," he said. "We've been very lucky and fortunate to [ also ] have these characters enhanced by the performances of these actors."
"It's going to be really interesting to see what happens next," he added. "But personally I think that The Avengers now enhances the solo movies because it was so successful. Everyone has their favourite moment or character and now it's like 'we've seen what you've got so show us some more.'"
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So, Peggy Carter's apparently out, which means there's a sizeable woman-sized hole left in Captain America 2.
According to Page Six , three lucky young ladies were being eyed by Marvel to play the sequel's female lead: Anna Kendrick, Imogen Poots and Felicity Jones. Who they'd play remains a mystery…
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Despite the fact that Peggy Carter would be considerably aged by Cap 2 's modern day setting, Hayley Atwell hinted that she could be making a return in the sequel.
Though the Brit actress didn't all-out confirm she was making a Captain America comeback, her avoidance tactics got geek senses tingling. “I can’t say yet because it hasn’t been officially released, and Marvel are very protective of their franchise," she said.
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While chatting with MTV News , Chris Evans revealed that he couldn't be happier that Anthony Mackie had been cast as Falcon. "He's so great," the actor said. "I've known Mackie for a few years now. I'm really happy we got him. We got lucky."
He was also excited to see Sebastian Stan's return as the titular menace. "There were always hints at that," he said. "The best thing about Kevin Feige is he's a fan. He's not just a businessman, he's a rabid comic book fan. Even during the firs t Captain America , well before The Avengers , there were whispers of [Winter Soldier] being the sequel. So I'm excited to tackle that."
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Despite his excitement over the Captain 2 casting, Chris Evans admitted that he wasn't looking forward to all the gym work that's required for anybody playing a buff superhero.
"I hate to admit it but it's not easy," he told Tribute . "It's months and months of lifting heavy stuff and... not looking forward to it. But it's worth it because I am happy with the movies and I do love the character, so come January, my life is going to be different."
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In September 2012, Anthony Mackie talked for the first time about being cast as Falcon. Though he admitted he was yet to see the costume, his excitement at the casting was clear.
"It's amazing," he said. "The biggest part of it is, I think kids for so long have been looking for a role model or someone to look up to. I feel like this being truly the first African American superhero, being introduced in this movie and in this way, I feel like it's going to be great."
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Despite persistent rumours that Anna Kendrick would be the leading lady in Captain America 2 , the actress refused to talk about those rumours during press for End Of Watch.
"Oh, right. Damn it," she said. "No. I'm going to say I don't know what you're talking about."
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In September 2012, Marvel released a statement revealing that it would be returning to Cleveland to film Captain America: The Winter Soldier - the same place that Avengers Assemble was also filmed.
“Marvel is pleased to return to Ohio, this time with our Captain America: The Winter Soldier production. The location, talent and people of Ohio are sure to benefit our film, and we look forward to beginning production,” said Louis D’Esposito, Co-President of Marvel Studios.
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Just to confuse things further regarding the female lead in Captain America 2 , Deadline reported that Scarlett Johansson could be about to reprise her role as Black Widow alongside the Cap.
Meanwhile, Hugo Weaving revealed that, though he's contracted for further Cap films, he hopes he's not called on to play Red Skull again. "I don't think Red Skull will be there," he told Collider . "And it's not something I would want to do again."
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Despite Caps earning a new sidekick in Falcon and going up against The Winter Soldier, the CA sequel added another villain in the form of Crossbones, with Frank Grillo (Warrior, The Grey) cast in the role.
In the comics, Crossbones is the mercenary often sent out by Red Skull to do his evil bidding. Grillo had tweeted about the role previously, reacting to the positive online response to rumours he'd be in the sequel. "WOW. Badass fans that Marvel has. Fierce muthas. #bones"
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Feel The Fury
With things hotting up on the CA sequel, Samuel L. Jackson confirmed that he wouldn't be in Iron Man 3 ("It's a standalone," he told us), but he WAS confirmed to be a part of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Other Avengers returning included Black Widow and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders).
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A new year dawns, and on just the second day of 2013 it was confirmed that Hayley Atwell definitely wouldn't be returning as Peggy Carter in Captain America 2.
Time Out , which spoke to Atwell, wrote: "She won’t, she confirms, be back for the latter’s sequel, which moves the action into the present day." Poor Peggy…
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Anthony Mackie offered up a few new details on his role as Falcon in CA2 , revealing that his costume will have wings - not a huge shock given the character's name and appearance in the comics.
"I will have wings. I will be able to fly. I will be a superhero and fight people, namely The Winter Soldier," he confirmed with Ain't It Cool News.
The actor added: "This is what I learned about franchises. They can always cast somebody else and say, 'Well that last person died,' or just not address it. You see the second movie, and the guy is a different guy than the first, and they're like, 'Yep, same dude to me.'"
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Avengers Assemble was a huge hit in 3D, so it came as no surprise when, in January 2013, Marvel announced that Captain America: The Winter Soldier (and Guardians Of The Galaxy ) would be released in 3D.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Stan talked about his excitement at returning as the titular baddie. "I’m completely excited to venture down that path. This is why January 1, 2013, was a glorious day to wake up to.
"I’m very grateful and very lucky for what’s going on right now. I think you have to allow yourself to be excited about the magnitude of something like [Captain America]."
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Leading Lady x2
Seems those rumours of Anna Kendrick taking the lead female role in Captain America 2 were bogus. Despite Scarlett Johansson stepping in as Black Widow, Revenge star Emily VanCamp will be the film's official female lead.
According to rumours, she'll play Sharon Carter, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and relative of Peggy Carter. This sounds messy…
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Marvel likes to give untested directors a shot with its movies, but apparently the studio was given an extra push in the direction of the Russos by none other than Steven Soderbergh himself.
"When the Russos were going after the Captain America sequel, they called me and said, 'Will you call Marvel and talk to them about us?' because I have a relationship with them," the director told Collider.
"I said, 'Tell me why you want to do this.' And they go, 'Because we have a $60,000 comic book collection, because we’re obsessed with this shit.' And I went, 'Okay, I’m just checking.' Because I’m not, that’s why I can’t do one, but I didn’t know that and I just wanted to make sure that they were going after it for the right reasons as it turned out they were and they ended up getting the job and they’ll do a great job because they love it, and I’m just not the guy."
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Kevin Feige had already revealed that Cap 2 would be very different in tone to the first Caps flick, but in February 2013 he revealed that it would be more of a "political thriller" than anything else.
"If it is a fad, it's one that lasts 30 to 40 years, as the Western did, because each one is so different," he told Variety of the superhero boom.
"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."
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Just when you think the casting on Captain America: The Winter Soldier is done, Marvel throws a heck of a curve ball.
Deadline reported in March 2013 that none other than Robert Redford was being courted for a role in the already-stuffed sequel. But who would be play?
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Having been officially cast in Cap 2 , Robert Redford spoke about stepping into the Marvel verse while chatting with the LA Times.
Though his character remained a mystery, Redford admitted: "I'm doing this film because it's different. It's a new thing for me. I like the idea of stepping into new territory. I'm excited by it. I also think it's a good bunch of people who really know what they're doing."
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A new Blu-ray collection ( Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One ) revealed design secrets for the studio's Phase Two set of films - and included a dramatic illustration of a clash between Captain America and The Winter Soldier.
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April 2013, and the first official image from Captain America: The Winter Soldier landed online.
Naturally, it was all about our red-white-and-blue hero and showed off his iconic shield while he, um, contemplated the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo. Could there be trouble ahead? On top of the image, we also got the official synopsis:
" Captain America: The Winter Soldier will pick-up where Marvel's The Avengers left off, as Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and teams up with Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, to battle a powerful yet shadowy enemy in present-day Washington, D.C."
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If you're going to get somebody to praise your Captain America movie, you might as well let comic writer Ed Brubaker do it.
The writer met with the Russo brothers to discuss the film, and even went to Marvel Studios where he read the film's script and took a look at the production art.
"I went out to dinner with [ the directors ] and talked about the project and gave them feedback on what I liked or didn't like or what parts didn't work," he said. "I mean, the script I read was fucking fantastic. It was the best Marvel movie."
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With shooting well underway by April 2013, it wasn't long before set photos appeared online - and they were as exciting as anything we'd seen on the sequel that far.
First off, they showed off Cap's new suit, while also putting Cap and Black Widow in the same frame for the first time since Avengers Assemble . Excitement levels through the roof…
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Falcon On Set
Yet more set photos emerged in May 2013, this time showing off Anthony Mackie suited and booted as Falcon.
Though the shot didn't give us a look at Falcon's full costume, it definitely hinted that Mackie will be badass in the role. Which, of course, we never doubted.
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Ahead of its appearance at the 2013 Comic-Con, Marvel unveiled the first teaser poster for Captain America: Winter Soldier.
Featuring the Captain's shield looking rather more beaten-up than we're used to seeing it, it's a gritty one-sheet (almost totally devoid of red) that hints Cap's going to be put through the wringer this time around. And then some.
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More Concept Art
Just a few days before Comic-Con kicked off, and Entertainment Weekly debuted yet more awesome concept art from Captain America 2.
Showing Captain America going up against The Winter Soldier, we also have Falcon soaring overhead in a sky that's on fire in the heat of battle.
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With Avengers 2 officially revealed as Avengers: Age Of Ultron at Comic-Con, co-director Joe Russo revealed to Slash Film that Cap 2 is really responsible for bridging Avengers and Avengers 2.
"I think, and Kevin [ Feige ] has said this, it's as big of a bridge of any of the Phase Two movies from Avengers to Avengers 2 ," he said.
"There's a significant shift in the universe at the end of this movie. Like all of the Marvel movies it has elements of all of the other films, this one I think has probably the strongest bond between those goals."
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