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.