After Bucky Barnes donned the Winter Soldier garb in the second Captain America movie, fans wondered whether or not he would ultimately fulfill his comic book destiny and inherit the Cap title from pal Steve Rogers. And we can't help but entertain a similar line of thought now that Marvel Comics has announced a new heir to Thor's hammer. The company utilized the platform of The View on Tuesday morning to announce the news that "the new Thor" would, in fact, be a yet unnamed female character.
"Thor, the God of Thunder, he messed up. He is no longer worthy to hold that damn hammer of his," Whoopi Goldberg, the ABC program's cohost (and clearly a devoted aficionado of the series, if her diction suggests anything). "And for the first time in history that hammer is being held by a woman ... The story behind her is she created herself. She was saved by Thor and she came down to Earth, followed him, and made herself look like Thor and so now she’s taking over."
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Fans of the film universe will invariably question whether the still-gestating character will make her way into any of the string of movies yet to be released. With so many films propped for the future — following August's Guardians of the Galaxy and next years Avengers: Age of Ultron, we'll see no shortage of standalone character films like Captain America, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, the Hulk, and, naturally, another Thor feature — and considering the long arm of renowned strong-female-characters-lover Joss Whedon in the Marvel scope, we'd be remiss to deny the possibility of Thor's double-X-chromosome-laden replacement taking form on the big screen.
And such a prospect would be long overdue. Although Black Widow took a central role in The Winter Soldier, we eagerly await her proper starring feature. The Avengers: Age of Ultron will introduce Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch and an unnamed character played by Kim Soo-hyun into the mix, but will still pack a cast of predominantly male heroes and villains; meanwhile, characters like Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill and Hayley Atwell's aging Peggy Carter take a veritable backseat. A female Thor (alongside Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes) would be a much needed addition to the formula. Although we don't know much about her just yet, we can't wait to hear more.
Something tells us a certain San Diego-based festival that's coming up soon will offer a bit of insight.
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Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is adding someone new to their lineup, and it might be someone we already know and love. According to The Daily Mail, the film will be adding The Vision to their already massive cast, and are reportedly looking at British actor Paul Bettany to play the role — yes, the same Paul Bettany who currently provides the voice for everyone's favorite artificially intelligent butler and personal assistant JARVIS. The actor was apparently spotted recently with Jeremy Renner on the set of the film, and that he appeared to be participating in some costuming and make up tests for the part.
It seems like every time we turn around, there's a new character being added to Age of Ultron, and with so many other superhero franchises also in the middle of casting and filming, it can be difficult keeping everyone and their powers straight. To help you out, we've created a handy rundown of all of the new heroes and villains who will be in the next Avengers film, in order of how excited we are to see them on the big screen.
Unspecified Villain Played By: Kim Soo-hyunWhat We Know: Honestly? Not much. Kim, who is a Korean actress, was recently cast in an "villain role," which means that her character will either play a supporting role to one of or both of the film's two main villains, or she will be revealed to be a significant character somewhere down the line. How Excited We Are: Well, that depends on who she's playing, doesn't it?
The Vision Played By: Paul Bettany (Allegedly)What We Know: Vision is a robot created by Ultron as a way to enact revenge against his own creator. Though Vision starts off as a bad guy, he eventually becomes good and joins the Avengers, and even falls in love with and marries Scarlet Witch. His powers include flight, phasing, the ability to project solar energy, and regeneration, which is sure to make things complicated for the Avengers. There's been no word yet on whether this version of Vision will be tied to JARVIS in any way, but many people are theorizing that Ultron may corrupt JARVIS and turn him into Vision. How Excited We Are: We'd prefer if he made a Wimbledon 2, but we'll take it.
QuicksilverPlayed By: Aaron Taylor-JohnsonWhat We Know: Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff is the twin brother of Wanda/Scarlet Witch, and is also a mutant and a former member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He can move and think at superhuman speeds, a trait which Taylor-Johnson revealed causes him to become easily bored and irritable. He's incredibly protective of his sister, likely due to the fact that they were abandoned as children, and have spent most of their lives running away and protecting themselves from people who wanted to harm them. Quicksilver will also appear in the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, although he will be played by Evan Peters, and they characters will not move between the two universes. How Excited We Are: Well, it's got to turn out better than the other Quicksilver's Empire cover, right?
Scarlet Witch Played By: Elizabeth OlsenWhat We Know: Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch will be joining the Avengers lineup in Age of Ultron. She originally appeared in the X-Men comics along with her twin brother, Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver as part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but she was later recruited by Iron Man to join the Avengers. She's a mutant, and her powers come from her ability to perform "hexes," and telekinesis, which allow her to move or control objects as well as causing bad things to happen to her opponents. Olsen also revealed that her character can "connect with the dead and people from the past, the future, other universes," so we're excited to see how that ability comes into play in Age of Ultron. Scarlet Witch and Vision fall in love in the comics, so we're likely to see some sparks fly onscreen as well. How Excited We Are: We're always up for more female superheroes. Always.
Baron Wolfgang Von StruckerPlayed By: Thomas KretschmannWhat We Know: Strucker is a former Nazi officer who founds HYDRA, is the mortal enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D., and has spent most of his life attempting to take over the world through genocide. He is incredibly intelligent and strong, and is excellent at hand-to-hand combat, as well as having an aptitude for military strategy and disguise. Strucker has been thought to be killed many times, although he has survived or regenerated each time, and although it hasn't been revealed which powers he will have in Age of Ultron, in some comics, he is able to kill his opponents instantly by releasing the Death Spore from his body. He also sues his HYDRA resources to develop serums that give him additional powers and prevent him from aging, so that he can stay eternally youthful and torture Nick Fury for all of eternity. How Excited We Are: He's cool, but we've already seen one Super Nazi, and we're more interested in the maniacal AI.
Falcon Played By: Anthony MackieWhat We Know: Though it hasn't yet been confirmed whether or not Samuel Wilson/Falcon will appear in Age of Ultron, but since we know that it will deal directly with the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it's likely that he will pop up in some way. Although his backstory differs somewhat in the comcis, in the film, Falcon works as a tactical leader for S.HI.E.L.D. and bonds with Captain America over their shared military experience. He is able to fly using a pair of mechanical wings, and in the comics he also has the ability to connect with birds, see through their eyes and communicate with them. Falcon has been Captain America's sidekick since the 1970s, and joined the Avengers shortly afterwards, which means it's only a matter of time before we see him line up with the rest of the team. How Excited We Are: Finally, Mackie will be in a film worth seeing. Sorry dude, we love you, but even you couldn't make Runner, Runner bearable.
Ultron Played By: James SpaderWhat We Know: Ultron is an artificial intelligence with an unfortunate god complex who is hell-bent on getting revenge on his creator and taking over the world. He's a long-term nemesis for the Avengers, having first appeared in the comics in the 1940s, so even though he's the main villain of this film, that doesn't necessarily mean we won't see him in future films. Ultron will be rendered on-screen through CGI, though he will be based on the motion-capture work that Spader will be doing. His range of powers includes superhuman strength, speed, and stamina, flight, and the ability to shoot rays of energy from his hands that renders opponents unconscious; however, Joss Whedon has revealed that not all of his powers will be featured in Age of Ultron. How Excited We Are: He's the big bad of the film and he's voiced by Spader. Need we say more?
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Two new bits of information from the set of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. First, according to Twitch, the movie is looking to add a new international location to its filming schedule, and will be shooting in the Gangnam neighborhood of Seoul, South Korea. Rumors of a Korean shoot have been circulating for some time now, and although star Mark Ruffalo has shot them down in the past, Korean representatives have confirmed that South Korea will be joining Italy and the U.K. as filming locations for the upcoming film. In addition, Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun has been added to film's cast of thousands, and although her character has yet to be revealed she has reportedly been cast "in a villain role."
Kim's character would be the third villain in Age of Ultron, as James Spader and Thomas Kretschmann have already signed on to play Ultron and Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, respectively. It's very likely that her character will play more of a supporting role, and probably work for or with one of the two main villains of the film, although, since her role is being kept under wraps, there's still a chance that she would be playing a more prominent villain. Superhero films have often been known to use multiple villains as a way of distracting both the heroes and the audience from the real villain of the piece, which means either Strucker or Ultron would be used to draw attention away from a more important character. However, both Ultron and Strucker are long-term adversaries of the Avengers in the comics, so it would be a more logical choice for the film to use them as the primary villains.
Regardless of the size of the role that Kim will play, the addition of a third villain might be cause for concern amongst fans of the series. Of course, having multiple villains in a superhero film is nothing new, but it's a difficult feat to pull of successfully, which might explain why there are so few films in which such a trope has worked well. Most movies like to establish some sort of backstory for their villains, in order for the audience to understand why they have turned to evil, and why they choose to terrorize this particular city or hero. Adding a second or even third villain would then require additional backstory for those characters as well, which tends to eat up a significant amount of the film's runtime — not to mention the fact that a film can only sustain so many subplots before everything starts to become convoluted. Spider-Man 3 attempted to circumvent the backstory issue by connecting Sandman with Uncle Ben's murder, but even that became confusing when added to Harry Osborn inheriting his father's role as the Green Goblin and Venom turning to evil after a petty feud with Peter Parker. Yes, that film has a myriad of other issues, but having three separate superheroes competing for screentime and Spider-Man's attention did nothing but drag things down even further.
Of course, even if Kim is playing a more supporting, henchman-type role instead of being a distinct villain in her own right, that doesn't necessarily mean the film is in the clear. Iron Man 2 attempted to add in a second villain with the addition of Justin Hammer, who plays a secondary role to Ivan Vanko, and assists in his scheme to take down Tony Stark, but ultimately, his storyline feels like an unneccessary subplot, and he's dispatched with easily and quietly. The plot of the film works just as well without him, and he doesn't add anything important to Tony's story or even to Vanko's story, so all he's doing is providing addition wisecracks and taking attention away from the rest of the story. It's not just Marvel that has difficulty balancing multiple villains, either; The Dark Knight Rises attempted to work in both Bane and Talia al Ghul by having the former provide the main villainy causing problems within Gotham, while distracting Batman from the fact that Talia was the mastermind behind the whole thing. Most of the film's plot focused on Bane, and when it was revealed at the very end that his story was actually hers, it felt more like an attempt at a surprise twist ending than anything else. She was never given the attention needed to make that ending feel earned or justified, which again, results in the double-villain trope being unsuccessful.
Even without factoring in Kim's character, the deck is stacked against Age of Ultron. Both Ultron and Strucker are significant parts of the Avengers mythology, which means they have complicated and dense histories, which the film will have to find a way of condensing or entwining in order to do justice to both of the character's origins and relationship with the Avengers. Marvel has been known to focus on one villain as the main antagonist, and slowly establish the second one as a long-term villain who will play a more significant role in the next film. However, in this case, it's impossible to tell if that will be the direction they choose for Age of Ultron, as neither Ultron or Strucker gives of the impression of being a one-and-done character, which makes it all the more important that both characters receive the time and attention they need. The best way to go about this would be to follow in the footsteps of The Dark Knight, which incorporated Two-Face's origin story into the Joker's plot, and allowed them both to succeed as the villains of the piece. If Age of Ultron can find a way to combine the two stories — for example, having Ultron work for HYDRA, or having him be the catalyst for Strucker's founding of the organization — then it might be able to avoid the "multiple villain" curse that haunts superhero films.
With the addition of Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Rhodey, Age of Ultron already has the difficult task of keeping the story from becoming over-crowded with characters, and so, as a result, multiple villains doesn't seem to be a solid plan. They're already having to relegate some of the good guys to background and subplots, which makes it hard to see where writer/director Joss Whedon will be able to fit in the many backstories needed to sustain a proper villain arc. Furthermore, the increased size of the cast seems to be counterintuitive to the "smaller" and "more personal" nature of the story that he has promised, as more characters means there is less room to focus on the individual, be it hero or villain. The Marvel universe has thus far seen great results with its attempts to focus on the psychological and emotional elements of the characters as well as the action that we expect, and the description of the script for Age of Ultron makes it sound as if this will be joining Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as successful looks at the inner lives of the heroes. But adding in so many new characters seems to undermine that story thread, and might only result in a film that has too many plots to properly explore anything.
We're hoping that Marvel will be able to avoid the pitfalls that come with having too many villains in a film, and we'd like to see Age of Ultron join the short list of superhero films that have been successful. However, the larger this cast seems to grow, the more reservations we have about whether or not the film will be able to pull it off. It's a delicate balancing act to work so many subplots and backstories into a film that is cohesive and engaging, but Marvel's on a hot streak right now, so we'll just have to hold out hope that Age of Ultron won't allow everything to come crashing down. And if it does, at least they'll have a few dozen more films in which to make things right.