Comic-Con: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER Panel Recap; Steve Rogers Fights Through a Morally Murky Post-AVENGERS World

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The audience for Iron Man 3 had to ignore the absence of The Avengers.  Thor: The Dark World will deal with the problem by having the Asgardian away from Earth.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks like the first Marvel movie since The Avengers to actually have to deal with the post-Avengers world.  Although Cap’s name may be in the title, the sequel has Black Widow has a co-lead and wraps Steve Rogers in the intrigue of S.H.I.E.L.D. and forces him to reconcile his old-fashioned values with the complicated moral issues of the present day.  It’s a damn exciting prospect for a follow-up adventure.

Hit the jump for my recap of the panel.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens April 4, 2014.

captain-america-2-winter-soldier-posterDirectors Joe and Anthony Russo come out on stage followed by stars Frank Grillo, Emily Van Camp, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Evans.

Hardwick starts off by asking Evans how it is to go back and keep putting on the suit:

-       Evans says it’s satisfying that the movies are good.  “It turns out Marvel knows what they’re doing,” says Evans, “so every time you put the suit back on, you get really excited and can’t wait to see what they’re going to do.”

How is Steve adjusting to the present day?

-       It’s not technology that throws him, but the societal changes, and it’s tougher to tell right from wrong than it was in the 1940s (e.g. “Nazis are bad”).

Johansson says Black Widow is integral to Winter Soldier, and she shares the movie with Evans.  There’s a shorthand between them, and they’re partners.  They’re running missions together, and these two characters who you didn’t really see together in Avengers now have a relationship that they’ve built.  We don’t really see the “civilian” side of Natasha, but we do see her casual working relationships, so it kind of breaks down the wall we’ve seen from her in the past.

In terms of the fighting, it’s gritty, and down-and-dirty.  In this regard, her relationship with the noble Steve Rogers is kind of an “odd couple” says Evans, which makes for a strange dichotomy, but they learn from each other.

Jackson says “it’s pretty badass” to put the eye-patch back on and go back into Nick Fury mode.  He says that in terms of the working relationships, he sees them as co-workers, subordinates, tools—it varies.  However, Cap come to cross-purposes with Fury in terms of the grey area Nick Fury lives in.  “And pretty much everything Nick Fury says is a lie anyway,” says Jackson.  He also says that Fury has a good idea what’s going on, but his paranoia keeps pushing him to look around every corner to learn more.

captain-america-2-winter-soldier-chris-evansTalking about how he fits in to the sequel, Stan says he was happy to find out that the Winter Soldier was going to come to life on screen.  Feige says this will stick fairly close to comic author Ed Brubaker’s story when it comes to the Winter Soldier.  It’s not meant to surprise the audience, but it will surprise Cap.

“I have wings and guns!  That’s all I need!  When you go to the grocery store, that’s all anyone needs!   We just handing out the business,” Mackie says about Falcon and working with Captain America.

Talking about working with the Russos, Feige say, “You want me to talk about why I hired them or just show you why I hired them?”  Roll Comic-Con trailer.

It begins with a fantastic scene of Cap riding in an elevator.  He’s alone, wearing his costume (no helmet) with the shield on his back.  He’s lonely.  The elevator stops and two men board led by Grillo’s character.  Grillo’s character and Cap tersely acknowledge each other, and the elevator continue to go up.  The process repeats with more men getting on at multiple stops—some are dressed as agents, others are soldiers.  It’s a great visual metaphor for the sinister forces working alongside and closing in around Rogers.  Captain Amerian can sense their malovelent intentions towards him and he says, “Anyone who wants can still get off.”  No one moves, Cap hits the emergency stop, and the fight begins.  Despite the cramped quarters and handheld cameras, it’s a thrilling fight with Cap taking on eight or nine guys.  The Russos capture the action perfectly, and it’s cut together in a way that we move with the momentum of the fight rather than just trying to keep up with it.

winter-soldier-captain-america-2After Captain beats up his attackers, we move on to the rest of the trailer which is a big montage.  One key moment is Fury telling Rogers, “We have to deal with the world as it is; not how we’d like it to be,” and Rogers responding, “That’s not freedom.  That’s fear”.  We also see the return as well as the destruction of the helicarrier.  We see Falcon fly and firing guns at a helicopter that’s chasing him and trying to shoot him down.  There are also a lot of fisticuffs on display from Natasha, and although the action has its own flavor, we don’t see much of the gritty spy stuff. Admittedly, it’s difficult to translate that an assault of images.  The closing shot is Cap’s shield embedded in the ground, and we see a bionic arm grab the top of it.  We pan up to reveal our first official look at the unmasked Winter Soldier.

After the trailer is over, Hardwick returns to the Q&A, and asks where Maria Hill is in this story.  Smulders says that after the Battle of New York, the world is still reeling from the reveal of superheroes and aliens, and SHIELD is trying to find its place in this new global climate.  “We’re trying to keep everyone in check,” and Maria’s part is to find her place in this new world they’ve created.

Van Camp talks about coming into the world of Marvel and how it was an awesome experience, and that she can’t really say too much.  Grillo agrees that they can’t say much, but it’s still a lot of fun.  This is what happens at a panel when you can show, but not tell.

Closing thoughts:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks like it’s going to successfully develop Steve Rogers’ individual story, move him to a different genre, and pay off the creation of the post-Avengers world.  There was a lot to take in from the trailer’s montage of action, but what really struck me the most was the elevator scene.  It was handled gracefully, thoughtfully, and then effortlessly segued into an entertaining brawl.  I hope the rest of the movie has the same level of excellence.

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