When the man outfitted in full Captain America regalia walks into darkened corner of a massive, labyrinthine building and takes a chair at the head of small assembly of journalists, suddenly it feels like we're about to be debriefed on some top-secret S.H.I.E.L.D. mission that saved the universe.
But the only reality is the Cap suit and the "top secret" part: actor Chris Evans is taking a break from filming the Marvel Studios sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier in a Manhattan Beach soundstage, ready to shed a little light on the film's zealously guarded storylines.
Seeing Evans in the fabled red, white and blue battlesuit makes one want to stand a little straighter for a moment, but his easy, laid-back and open demeanor is a far cry from Cap's stalwart gravitas. It made for a relaxed and revealing exchange, covering everything from Cap's costume 3.0 to his fighting style, and sharing scenes with old pal Scarlett Johansson and film icon Robert Redford.
On the uniform 3.0:
"I do like the new suit a lot. I can tell you that I think a lot of people like the old suit as well, after Avengers. [The ears] get some air on the new suit. I've always liked the ears inside. I always thought I kind of had big Dumbo ears. Whenever they tried out the helmet with the ears out, I was like, 'Please don't make me do this. I look so silly,' but they did some really good things. It looks a lot better. The new suit does have the ears out, and it actually looks okay. I was like, ‘Okay, I can live with this.'"
On Cap's right-vs.-wrong views as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which might not have the most altruistic agenda):
"He feels comfortable within the structure that he's given. He likes to serve. He likes to take orders. He's like a herding dog – he needs a task… It's always been Cap's goal to do what's right and to be of service, to help where he can. In this movie, I think the question is ‘Well, what is right?' I think it was a lot easier in the '40s to know who the evil was. There's no disputing Nazis are bad. And now, there's a lot more of a gray area. What is the right thing? And are you of service to that cause? That's where it becomes a tricky dispute for Cap. Threats are different now, and precautionary measures are taken now that can be questionable and somewhat suspect in his eyes."
On keeping Cap the most grounded of Marvel's good guys:
"Cap's such a good guy, it's hard for him to bleed – not just literally, but figuratively… He is a really human superhero. He doesn't shoot lightning, he doesn't fly – It's very meat-and-potatoes-type powers. So I think it's only appropriate that the tone and the theme fits more of a human element. It does have kind of a very grounded political thriller tone to it, and I think that just goes hand-in-hand with the character. It just works. They're also trying to infuse much more human conflict that doesn't necessarily have to do with fighting monsters and doing giant stunts. It's just about him coping with moral issues about right and wrong and good and bad. That's stuff we can all relate to."
On Cap's new and improved, badass fighting style:
"Has anyone played the Captain America video game? I love it, and I don't like video games. I love the way Cap moves. He moves so well – he just beats ass! That's how this guy needs to be moving. This isn't just a guy who's given the ability of speed and power. He's been training. He's got the frame of mind to absorb this information, so I can only assume with training and his ability, this guy should really be dangerous, and we should show that. If Jason Bourne can do it, Cap should be flying through these things. So we've had a little bit of fun kind of turning up his power, turning up his speed, and so the fights are more grizzly and more impactful – and, in my opinion, cooler."
On the down-to-earth yin and yang of the friendship between Cap and Johansson's Black Widow:
"My favorite scenes are the scenes with Scarlett…Our characters both have issues in this movie. It's just such an odd pairing. We're such different people. Her moral compass is for sale, and Steve is a Boy Scout, so it's interesting what they find in each other."
On holding the screen opposite Redford:
"I was so nervous the first day, and within 10 minutes, I was like ‘Oh, thank God!' Because you never know how these people are going to be at that level, and he's just the nicest guy in the world. I mean, it's not like he can't direct! He could have very easily come on the set and made it his set, and he just didn't do that. He has immense respect, and he's not one of those guys. The first day that we shot together, it was like a 15-hour day. The Russos like their coverage, and at the end of the day, it was a lot of my stuff and he had very minimal lines. He really could have left. I know a lot of actors that would have left and then been like, 'You cool doing this with someone else?' Which I think kind of sucks when actors do that. But he didn't do it. He stuck around. It's past midnight, and this guy's here doing off-camera for me. He classes up this whole project.
On taking a personal cue from Cap's sterling character:
"You meet little kids, and that resonates. That's when that hits home. Once you meet a kid, you're like, 'Man, this kid really looks up to me. What a strange thing – he doesn't even know me!' But I remember feeling that way when I was a kid about certain things, and that's a beautiful thing. Not to sound cheesy, but that's really cool. And so you owe that to them. That's part of the responsibility of this job… I categorize the way kids view you as something you owe, and it's your responsibility. If you make stupid mistakes in your life, then it tarnishes their image of you – that's on you. You're not free to just go be a jackass anymore."
Marvel has also released four new character posters in advance of their Super Bowl Sunday trailer.
Winter Soldier comes to theaters April 4. Sign up for an alert when tickets go on sale.