"Watch this, guys. It's going to be good," Anthony Mackie says to a band of visiting press members on the set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He's fired up. His excitement is palpable. And why shouldn't it be? The Pain & Gain star is about to soar in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or the "MCU") as Sam Wilson, aka "Falcon."
Mackie is strapped into his suit, confidently walking on a catwalk that has been constructed on a green screen stage in Manhattan Beach, California. This reporter has strolled these grounds while visiting previous Marvel productions like Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Today's set is minimal as much of the environment is being constructed via CGI. The catwalk Mackie is standing on is attached to what appear to be giant turbines and, at the center of it all, a metal cylinder containing a bunch of green vials. Mackie is intent on something within this massive cylinder.
Trying to get any explanation as to what we're witnessing is like trying to hold on to the Cosmic Cube for safe keeping (that pesky thing is always falling into the wrong hands). We're told by our guide that the scene being shot occurs in the third act. Dang. We definitely won't get many answers now. I mean, we're on a set where the recycle bins – used to collect discarded script pages, call sheets and sides – has an intimidating padlock on the lid.
Mackie tries his best to give us the dirt: "We have decided to take down the bad guys. So, we go into the lair of the bad guys and poison their diabolical plan to take over the world. That's what you just saw. Next!"
Here's what we know: This sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger welcomes Anthony and Joe Russo to the helm. The directing duo are best known for their work on television with shows like "Community" and "Arrested Development" under their belt. Evans is back as Steve Rogers, the man out of time, and so is Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Newcomers include the aforementioned Mackie, Robert Redford and Frank Grillo. And then, of course, there's Sebastian Stan, last seen as Cap's pal, Bucky Barnes, but here transformed into the eponymous Winter Soldier, a character culled from the pages of "Captain America" during an Ed Brubaker-penned story arc.
The events of the sequel occur after The Avengers, naturally, and from the sounds of our discussion on set with the directors, Marvel's top dog Kevin Feige, Mackie and Stan, the journey Cap is being placed on will cut deep. Further, as Joe Russo explains, what occurs in this film will send a loud shockwave through the MCU. Doesn't that just give you goosebumps?
Now, with Mackie's shot complete the production team calls in Evans, fully suited up and ready to run take after take hauling ass down the catwalk himself. Whatever is happening here, we can tell there's a clocking ticking down to a major event and a lot of pressure is riding on Captain America and Falcon's shoulders.
So, on to the good stuff… Follow the page links below to our interviews with the Captain America: The Winter Soldier team, including Mackie, Sebastian Stan, directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and producer Kevin Feige.