Spoilers for Marvel's The Avengers ahead
Comic book movies - especially the ones Marvel has been cooking up in the last five years - are inherently ripe for dissection. With decades worth of source material to mine from, there's no limit to the amount of references, clever nods and Easter Eggs can be packed into a singular film. There's a moment in Thor where the titular hero walks through Odin's treasure vault and every object seen in the background is a known object in the Marvel universe. The sequence packs enough fan service to melt an unprepared comic nut's brain.
Peppering movies with inside jokes is a nice way for Marvel to say ""thank you"" to the devotees, but it also creates a whirlwind of anticipation for their future slate. Are these objects setting up for upcoming movies? Do they retroactively comment on previous movies and restructure the timeline? What does it all mean?!? The power of the imaginative fan has never been more evident in the lead up to The Avengers - a movie that was in the public eye before it even started filming (heck, Marvel debuted a footage-less trailer at Comic-Con before the movie even rolled cameras). From the get-go, savvy sleuths picked apart every morsel of info, snapshot from set and vague interview to conjure up what was in store for audiences when Avengers eventually hit in May 2012. The rumor mill was up and running, and production was steady from beginning to end.
So which ""facts"" actually panned out? Well, not many. But for fans, the idea may be more important than the realization. A little wishful thinking goes a long way while waiting two years for the movie some have been dying to see for their entire lives. Here's a rundown of the many Avengers rumors
and which ones actually happened. First, a positive:
The Avengers' Secret Villain
Those who stuck around through the first few title cards of The Avengers credits caught an additional scene that took the action back to outer space. Turns out, the shrouded alien that Loki spends most of the movie reporting to isn't the top dog. In the mid-credit sequence, the extraterrestrial reports to his own master: a big, smiling, purple alien. That's Thanos - a fan favorite from the comic books whose appearance leaked way back in May 2011. While initial reports made it sound like Thanos would have a hand in the epic battle with The Avengers squad, his role was more of a tease than anything. But still, true.[Blastr]
The Avengers' Non-Existent Secret Villain
Speaking of special guests ready to ruffle the feathers of our favorite heroes, rumors dating as late as late December suggest that Captain America foe Red Skull would pop up late in the game to stir up trouble for our favorite heroes. Reports suggested that actor Hugo Weaving shot secret scenes for the movie, that would see his diabolical pseudo-Nazi teaming up with Loki. Unless that footage was snipped and stashed away for the inevitable Blu-ray release, this rumor was 100% inaccurate. [Movieweb]
Your Friendly Neighborhood Cameo
While some rumors are born from pure speculation, others come straight from the misinformed mouths of those involved. In an interview with The Radio Times leading up to the movie, the legendary Jenny Agutter (who appears in a bit role as a ""council member"") dropped a major bomb. On Avengers:
"I'm sworn to secrecy! I wasn't allowed a script until I got there, and when I did I felt like a complete child being on big sets and a huge parking lot full of Winnebagos." She does let slip that two of these housed Spider-Man and Iron Man; we suspect Agutter won't able to avoid sci-fi conventions for much longer.
The excerpt set a geek wildfire: Spider-Man? In Avengers!? Was it even possible? Unlike many of the Marvel characters, the rights to Spider-Man are held by Sony (which is why we're getting a rebooted The Amazing Spider-Man this year) and restrict the webslinger's use in outside projects. Agutter was suggesting otherwise - and was incorrect. Spider-Man doesn't appear in Avengers, and as long as Sony holds the rights, probably never will.
The New Team Members
When Avengers was finally greenlit and put into motion, the main focus of speculation was which new characters would be making the leap to the screen to join the established crew. Avengers comic book regulars included Harry Pym aka Ant-Man and The Wasp - and fans were convinced both would make an appearance. With director Edgar Wright having been in talks to direct a live-action Ant-Man movie for almost a decade, the character was almost a given to join the cast. Confident sources leaked Nathan Fillion as the man for the job - even more plausible with Firefly mastermind Joss Whedon at the helm. Others circled Adrian Brody and Josh Holloway. As for the Wasp, Fox News was 99.9% sure Eva Longoria, an ""insider"" even telling them, "First, she read for the part, then she went into the studio for camera tests. The team liked her for The Wasp so much that she did green screen work in the late spring."" Maybe the deals were in the works, but by the time the movie made it in front of cameras both Ant-Man and Wasp were nowhere to be seen. Sequel? [WorstPreviews, Fox News]
Skrulls, Kree and Redacted! Oh My!
Actor Tom Hiddleston was open in interviews about his companion back-up in Avengers - since we saw Thor throw him down successfully in their stand alone movie, we knew additional forces were necessary for Loki to be a formidable opponent for The Avengers. But who would it be? Up until a few weeks before The Avengers hit theaters, the general consensus was the fan favorite Skrulls, an alien race that's been all over the comic books for decades. Even when Joss Whedon himself debunked the rumor, everyone was convinced the extraterrestrial army was the Skrulls. Early word even spiced up the rumor, suggesting we'd see both The Skrulls and The Krees, a second, popular race in direct conflict with The Skrulls. Luckily, with only months to go, the whole Skrull rumor was thrown out the window in favor of ""The Redacted,"" a new breed created specifically for the movie. The name sounds like a bad misread - whoever saw The [REDACTED] on a call sheet may not have understood the meaning of the phrase - but the rumor stuck. But it was all wrong: toy tie-ins and the eventual film revealed The Chiaturi, a modern race introduced from the comics. Sorry, Skrull fans. [ScreenRant, CBM]
Even before Loki entered the picture as the villain of The Avengers, rumors were swirling that The Hulk would fall from good guy to bad guy and take on the existing heroes in an all out cagematch. Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, the writers of Iron Man, sparked the rumor when they suggested that all the Marvel films were leading up to a conflict with the big, green monster. "You don't want like 10 super-badass good guys fighting together. Where's the fun in that? Let's break it off a little. Friends or colleagues who become enemies is always an interesting thing because you know it's based on love and friendship and that's always the worst thing to have turn bad - is someone you actually care about and someone you actually believe in."
While The Hulk does his fair share of smashing in the name of humanity in The Avengers, there's a little truth to this plotting. The Avengers do have a bit of a scuffle with one another halfway through the film and Loki does attempt to control Hulk for his own evil purposes - but by the grand finale, there's a greater threat at hand, and Hulk is there to help out. [MTV]
Agent Coulson, WHO ARE YOU!?
If you've seen The Avengers then you know the tragic fate that befalls the faithful S.H.I.E.L.D. agent portrayed in the Marvel Movie Universe by actor Clark Gregg. He's a mild-mannered do-gooder - meaning every hardcore fan thinks he's up to no good or, at the very least, more than what he seems. Early rumors pegged Coulson as a Skrull undercover agent (possible thanks to the alien race's ability to shapeshift). When it became more apparent that the Skrulls weren't even in the film, the rumor was tossed out. Replacing it was the possibility of Coulson actually being the comic book hero The Vision. A description of an after-credits sequence featuring Tony Stark and Bruce Banner ""rebuilding"" Coulson circulated around the Internet causing the stir. The final cut of the film doesn't include the sequence, meaning we'll just have to continue mourning Agent Coulson's demise until Avengers 2. [Comic Book Movie]
Speaking of the sequel, anyone heard any good rumors?