Given the confines of the zip-from-the-back costume, Evans jokes that there's one thing audiences won't see Captain America do -- head to the bathroom. "Not to get too graphic," he says, "but you'd better hope you're on a nice schedule in that thing. There are all these zippers and buttons." And he only sheds the suit with the help of a wardrobe entourage. "You could fight all day; you're not getting out of it."
Avengers," which grossed $1.5 billion worldwide. Evans heads to London to shoot "Avengers 2" alongside superhero pals Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) after his press tour for the April 4 release of "The Winter Soldier," in which Johansson also appears.
As Evans prepares for another spin in the superhero stratosphere, he admits to feeling somewhat ambivalent about being typecast as a comicbook star. The 32-year-old actor spent his winter hiatus from the Marvel universe directing his debut feature, an intimate $3 million love story tentatively called "1:30 Train," which focuses on a young woman (Alice Eve) who misses her ride home at Grand Central Terminal and spends the night talking to a street musician (played by Evans). He shot the film on Manhattan's Lower East side over the course of just 19 days, and recently finished editing a rough cut.
"I've known for a while I wanted to direct," Evans says. "But (time) never really opens up. There's another movie to do, there's another acting job. It just got to a point where I was like, you know what -- I have to do this."
Evans recently made news when he said he plans a short break from acting after his Marvel run ends, but now, he tells Variety, he wants to retire from being in front of the camera. "If I'm acting at all, it's going to be under Marvel contract, or I'm going to be directing," he says. "I can't see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I'm contractually obligated to do."
That still leaves him some time on the bigscreen: Over the next several years, he will clock at least three more appearances as the red-white-and-blue-clad superhero in "Avengers" and "Captain America" sequels.
Evans is part of a new generation of actors who came of age in a Hollywood where box office is dictated less by movie stars and more by superheroes and mega-franchises such as "Harry Potter," "The Hunger Games," "Twilight," "Batman" "Spider-Man," "Superman," "X-Men" and "Fantastic Four" -- the latter of which afforded Evans his first major break, playing another superhero: flamethrower Johnny Storm. It was a milestone for Evans because it marked the first time he went on an international press tour and was offered a personal trainer by a studio.
Traditionally, superhero roles are both a blessing and a curse for up-and-coming actors. They can confer recognition on unknowns (like a young Hugh Jackman, cast as Wolverine in 2000's "X-Men"), but they also can restrict career options due to typecasting. But with the onset of Hollywood's mega-franchise mania, potential drawbacks to playing a superhero have become less of an issue as actors regularly dabble in other artistic ventures, whether they be independent films (as in the case of "Harry Potter's" Daniel Radcliffe), Broadway ("Spider-Man's" Andrew Garfield) or directing, the career Evans is chasing.
Downey, who gave his own career a major boost when he donned the "Iron Man" suit in 2008, compares the new superhero studio model of signing actors to multiple films with the old studio system of the 1940s and '50s. "Obviously, it's much less of a taboo," says the star, who has headlined four Marvel films as well as continuing to work on other projects.
Yet new hit superhero franchises still carry baggage for many of their stars. "It can feel like a gilded cage at times," admits Johansson. The actress, who has so far played the Black Widow in three films that feature "Avengers" characters, including "Winter Soldier," notes: "It's something that obviously allows you the opportunity to do things like go and direct your first feature and have a built-in audience for that. At the same time, at the end of the job, there's always a super suit in your future."
Johansson cites several concerns. "The movies take at least five or six months to release. Are you going to top the last one? Is your performance going to be as enigmatic? It's a big risk."
For Evans, the "Captain America" experience has been mostly positive. He credits the series with enabling him to land his dream job. "Without these movies, I wouldn't be directing," he reckons. "They gave me enough overseas recognition to greenlight a movie. And if I'm speaking extremely candidly, it's going to continue to do that for as long as the Marvel contract runs."
After wrapping "Avengers" at the end of the summer, Evans plans to helm another feature later this year, and he's looking for scripts. "I put everything in '1:30 Train,'â" he says. But whether that film succeeds or not, he feels confident he'll get another shot at directing. "That's not a luxury that most people are afforded," he points out.
Evans grew up in Sudbury, Mass., a Boston suburb, where all three of his siblings were theater kids. His adolescence sounds like a real-life version of "High School Musical," where he juggled sports (lacrosse and wrestling) with productions of "West Side Story." He says he wanted to be a painter or animator (and only started reading Marvel comics after getting the role in the films.)