Clockwise from top left: Emelia Clarke, Jessica Brown Findlay, Teresa Palmer, Alison Brie and Imogen Poots.
Deadline have been told that the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Joe and Anthony Russo (Welcome To Collinwood, You Me & Dupree, Community, Arrested Development), have drawn up the names of five actresses who could play the female lead in their upcoming superhero adventure.
Here they are, then: Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones‘ Daenerys Targaryen, aka "Khaleesi"), Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey‘s Lady Sybil Crawley), Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four, The Sorcerer's Apprentice), Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later, Jane Eyre, Fright Night) and Alison Brie (Mad Men, Community, The Five Year Engagement).
At this point, of course, nothing is confirmed, but as this is a Marvel movie, this sort of spectulation opportunity is manna from heaven for fans of the sprawling, interconnected comic-book universe.
All five names listed above are strong suggestions from the Russo Brothers: up-and-coming actresses already much-loved in their niches but yet to become household names as big screen stars.
Naturally, the likes of their Community colleague Alison Brie would have the comedy chops to do something funnier, but considering this Winter Soldier storyline is based on a reasonably dark tale – Cap's best mate Bucky, presumed dead, is brought back to life with amnesia, given a robotic arm and brainwashed for the bad guys - perhaps hilarity is not on the cards.
The trouble these potential love interests will have – if you presume this female lead will indeed be a love interest – is that they'll have to battle with the memory of Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter from the original Captain America. In one Avengers deleted scene, for example, Cap is shown looking teary-eyed over a file showing her character has now RETIRED to Winchester, meaning that whoever wants to challenge her for his affections will have some hard work to do.
Then there's Deadline's report that Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow may be involved (perhaps as a cameo) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, though again, this is just a rumour. It'll be nice touch if she does, however, especially considering that Iron Man 3 has been promised to be entirely seperate from the rest of the Avengers crew according to studio head Kevin Feige.
So what do you think? Who is your favourite for the role? Let us know in the comment box and poll below, and don't forget that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is scheduled for an April 2014 release.