Nowadays it’s not enough for a superhero movie to have an iconic hero and a name-brand star, they have to have their own distinct style. Of Marvel’s Phase One, for instance, Iron Man and its sequel were arguably the most “generic”, Thor brought with it elements of fantasy, while Captain America: The First Avenger was a good old-fashioned war flick.
The Captain America sequel, subtitled The Winter Soldier, takes its name from the Ed Brubaker storyline, which features Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) late World War Two sidekick Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) being brought secretly back from the dead to serve as a Soviet assassin. Given that the resurrected Bucky is suffering from amnesia and no idea that he is murdering his former friends, you’d be right for thinking The Winter Soldier sounds like a political thriller.
Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, recently spoke to Variety about the use of sub-genres to distinguish between superhero movies, as well as on the phenomenon that superhero movies themselves have become:
If it is a fad, it’s one that lasts 30 to 40 years, as the Western did, because each one is so different. 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.
If you take comic books as being a modern mythology, a claim made by figures like Frank Miller, Guillermo del Toro, and Zack Snyder, then this makes sense: superhero movies give us perspective on our own lives as the Labours of Heracles once did for the ancient Greeks; the genre is just how that particular story fits into our understanding of movie culture.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier also features Emily VanCamp as The Cap’s new love interest, Anthony Mackie as the MCU’s first African-American superhero, Falcon, with Samuel L. Jackson set to reprise his role of the non-super-powered director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury, along with fellow operatives Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Frank Grillo and Toby Jones are on villain duties as ruthless mercenary Crossbones and returning Nazi scientist, Dr. Anim Zola. The film is due out on April 4th, 2014.
Anyway, so much for the Bucky Clause…