Unlike the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "The Winter Soldier" minimizes the use of visual effects as much as possible. Anthony Mackie, elaborated: "The Russos, what they did that was so great was, they wanted to stay with live action, which is a dying art form...If they could build it, they built it. If we could do it, we did it. They wanted to do as little CGI as possible. That's why the movie looks so great."
To prepare for the role of the Winter Solder, Sebastian Stan went through five months of physical training and historical research: "I dove into the whole Cold War history: I looked at the KGB. I looked at all kinds of spy movies, and all kinds of documentaries about that time, and what it was about. I grabbed anything from that time period and anything about brainwashing."
According to Chris Evans Steve Rogers continues his adjustment to the modern world, which began in The Avengers (2012): "It's not so much about his shock with technology... It's more about the societal differences. He's gone from the 1940s to today; he comes from a world where people were a little more trusting, the threats not as deep. Now, it's harder to tell who's right and wrong. Actions you take to protect people from threats could compromise liberties and privacy. That's tough for Steve to swallow."
Shooting in Washington D.C. put Steve Rogers, Black Widow and Falcon in scenes at some of the most prominent national landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, National Air and Space Museum, Capitol Building, National Mall, Occidental Restaurant at The Willard Hotel, DuPont Circle Neighborhood and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, which the production shut down for the first time ever for the filming of a major motion picture.
In battling the Winter Soldier, Captain America needs all the resources he can get, including his iconic shield, which has a lot more uses in the film. The shield is traditionally used mostly as a defensive weapon, but in Captain America: The Winter Soldier the filmmakers wanted to explore using it more as an offensive weapon. There are two handles on the shield and Steve Rogers can hold onto the handles in order to utilize it in an eastern style of fighting.
Reigning UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre plays a French mercenary in the film. For the filmmakers, landing the popular MMA fighter for the role was a stroke of luck and good timing but is was equally a stroke of luck for Georges St-Pierre who was excited to get his first chance at being in a big action movie.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes) is able to match Captain America (Steve Rogers) move by move, even to the point of catching Rogers' shield. This foreshadows Barnes taking over as Captain America (which happened in the comics).
Comic book writer Ed Brubaker was both pleased and surprised at the adaptation of the Winter Soldier storyline, his work on the title - including the return of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier: "I got to go out to Marvel Studios and read one of the later drafts of the script. I went out to dinner with directors Joe and Anthony Russo and talked about the project and gave them feedback on what I liked or didn't like or what parts didn't work. I mean, the script I read was fantastic. The tone of it and the Bucky stuff is so perfect and the way I'd want it to be, I was so thrilled to see that."
Alexander Pierce is based on his appearance in the Marvel Comics (a SHIELD agent), but incorporates Aleksander Lukin (an agent under the Winter Soldier, possessed by Arnim Zola in the film when it was the Red Skull in the comics)