Robert Redford joining ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’?

Marvel Studios has pulled off some impressive and unexpected casting coups over the years including Scarlett Johannson as the Black Widow in “Iron Man 3,” Anthony Hopkins as Odin in “Thor” and, most recently, Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci in “Captain America: The First Avenger.”  Now, the Disney division appears to have landed one of its most unlikely stars to date for “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” Robert Redford.

The Oscar-winning director of “Ordinary People” and founder of the Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Institute is reportedly in talks to play a high-level S.H.I.E.L.D. operative alongside Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).  It’s unclear whether the role is just a cameo or integral to the film’s storyline, but it marks the first time Redford has appeared on camera in a major studio film since 2001’s “Spy Game.”

Redford’s latest directorial and acting endeavor, “The Company You Keep,” premiered at the 2011 Venice Film Festival last August and will be released by Sony Classics next month. He also just wrapped appearing in J.C. Chandor’s follow up to “Margin Call,” “All Is Lost.” The 76-year-old spends most of his time assisting the indie film world as President of the Sundance Institute.

“Winter Soldier” is expected to begin production this spring and will be directed Joe and Anthony Russo.  Chris Evans will return as the Star-Spangled Hero along with Sebastian Stan (Bucky) and Toby Jones (Arnim Zola).  The aforementioned Johannson will make her first appearance in the “Captain America” franchise as the Black Widow as will Cobie Smulders (Marie Hill), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson) and Emily VanCamp (Sharon Osborne).

“Captain America: Winter Soldier” is currently scheduled to open nationwide on April 4, 2014.