Heavy is the arm that wields the shield. Chris Evans knows this all too well, having starred as super-soldier Steve Roger in two Marvel Studios movies now: 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” and 2012’s “Marvel’s The Avengers.” That number jumps to three with April’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” directed by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, and co-starring Marvel veterans Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and more.
The “Captain America” sequel takes place in the modern day, a far cry from the 1940s-set “First Avenger.” But some time has passed since the events of “The Avengers,” giving Cap an opportunity to acclimate to his surroundings — something he’s able to do thanks to his employment at the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, better known as S.H.I.E.L.D.
“This movie, it’s about him not just trying to acclimate to the modern world, but I think it’s always been Cap’s goal to do what’s right and to be of service and to help where he can,” Evans said during a conversation with reporters on the “Winter Soldier” set. “He likes to serve. He likes to take orders. He’s like a hunting dog: he needs a task.”
But with his nose buried so firmly in his work, Cap doesn’t have much in the way of a social life — a fact that’s pointed out to him by his partner, Black Widow, of all people. “Natasha kind of gives him a hard time about that,” said Evans, “about getting into dating, just finding a social life, finding yourself outside of your work.”
It’s hard for Cap to find much of a life outside of his heroic responsibilities, especially when an old friend from the past resurfaces as a new enemy: Bucky Barnes, now known as the deadly Winter Soldier. When Bucky and Cap reunite, it’s not a joyous affair, certainly not at first.
“[Bucky] is one of Steve’s biggest sources of guilt,” said Evans. “The fact that out of his whole crew of commandoes, these guys he convinced to come to battle with him, this is the one guy that didn’t make it back, the one guy that was always there for him. And then to find out that he did make it, and was subject to some of the things he was subject to? That’s a lot for Steve to process, and he takes full responsibility for it.”
Bucky’s return isn’t the only stressor in Steve’s life. He also has to wonder about his own employers at S.H.I.E.L.D., and how much he can trust them. Seeds of doubt were planted as far back as “The Avengers,” and arguably even as far back as the ending of “The First Avenger.”
“Cap comes from a time when there was a little more trust and a little less access,” said Evans. “I can go on the Internet and learn how to make a bomb. You couldn’t do that in the ’40s, so you didn’t have to worry about it. But now you do. So where’s the line? It’s a tricky conversation or me right now, and I was born in this era. I can’t imagine coming from a different place, swallowing the pill, and wondering where society has gone.”
While Cap wrestles with his place in the world, Evans is much more confident in his position within the Marvel Universe, and his ownership of Cap as a character.
“It’s nice to come into your own,” he said. “I think with the first movie, I’d see myself in the suit and be like, ’Who’s that idiot in the suit?’ It’s starting to feel more like real, or home, or something. You do start caring a little bit more, and you do run into these kids and they do have this impact. It’s a very nice thing. It’s a responsibility now, and I don’t want ot make it sound like it’s going to my head or anything — you just start caring more about making sure [the movie] is good quality stuff.”
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” hits theaters on April 4, 2014.