We're just a few months away from May 1, 2015 — the day Marvel will unleash Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to the ultra-successful 2012 Avengers flick. The first movie grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide, and solidified actors like Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans as major stars.
Just like the first movie, this sequel is already rife with rumors. From new heroes to deaths to the possibility of Ryan Gosling, here is a quick primer and a truthiness gauge of the rumors surrounding Avengers: Age of Ultron. Possible spoilers follow, so observe caution if you want to know nothing.
1) Ryan Gosling will be an Avenger
This is the newest rumor to attach to the film. It came during a week when Warner Bros. announced its upcoming lineup of DC Comics films, including such superheroes as Wonder Woman and Green Lantern starring in films through 2020.
The rumor is that Marvel and DC are fighting over Oscar-nominated actor and internet folk hero Ryan Gosling. Marvel, according to Vanity Fair, wants Gosling to play Doctor Strange, an Avenger with magical powers. DC wants him to star in its upcoming Suicide Squad, about a team of supervillains undertaking a desperate mission for the good guys.
Why it matters: Even if DC and Marvel were crazy enough to let their actors work for the enemy, there is no way Gosling would be able to do both these films — the Suicide Squad movie and the Doctor Strange movie are both slated for 2016. Gosling would be a big win for either side. He would give Marvel another A-lister and some new blood for The Avengers. Gosling could also fill Chris Evans's role when his contract is up. (Evans has expressed that he would like to give up acting after his sixth Marvel movie.) For DC, Gosling would give the risky Suicide Squad credibility.
True or false: Both Marvel and DC would be thrilled to have Gosling in a movie. But who says he even wants to do a superhero film? If he does, though, Marvel has the better track record, but DC has the better role. To be quite honest though, neither one of these movies is a good fit for Gosling, who can play heartthrob, clown, and damaged goods equally well. Gosling would actually be better playing a character like Marvel's Nova, or DC's The Flash.
2) Captain Marvel will make an appearance
At the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America will, according to the script seen by Badass Digest's Devin Faraci, assemble a team of heroes, setting up the next events in the Marvel cinematic universe.
"I won't reveal all the names — and some have changed in between drafts, by the way — but one character who has always been in this new team is Captain Marvel," Faraci reported in August. He does add that he has been hearing Marvel isn't sure whether or not to introduce Captain Marvel in such a way.
Why it matters: The question of which major studio will be the first (in a long while) to produce a comic book female superhero movie that also ties in to one of these mega-franchises has been one of the most persistent in the industry.
Last week DC announced it had a Wonder Woman solo movie in the works for 2017, beating Marvel to the punch. This was weird, in that Marvel is usually the company considered the more progressive of the two. With its announcement, DC essentially turned up the pressure on Marvel.
Of Marvel's roster of female heroes (that don't belong to Fox or Sony), Black Widow (currently played by Scarlett Johansson) is probably the most high profile. But she isn't Marvel's only A-lister.
In the comics, one of the most important heroes continues to be Captain Marvel a.k.a. Carol Danvers, one of the leaders of The Avengers. She flies, shoots photon beams from her hands, and possesses superhuman strength — a set of powers that would look great on film. She's also is really great for branding, considering she uses Marvel as her code name.
True or false: Probably true. An end credits scene or a cameo for Captain Marvel wouldn't be that hard to film. And Marvel needs to start setting up the foundation for Captain America 3, which may focus on an event called Civil War, in which heroes turn on each other. That doesn't really work with a relatively small number of Avengers (six, or possibly eight if you count Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, who are making appearances in Ultron).
There's also the pressure that DC's Wonder Woman announcement put on the company. If raccoons, talking trees, and now Wonder Woman and her lasso of truth are getting movies, there's probably more incentive for Marvel to get the wheels turning for Captain Marvel (and Black Widow). What better way to get the attention off of DC than filming a scene with a beloved character?
Can we suggest Rosamund Pike as Captain Marvel?
3) Avengers are going to die
During San Diego Comic Con, Joss Whedon brought a clip of Avengers: AOU to show some loyal fans. And what he showed them was doom and gloom. Vulture's Kyle Buchanan was there:
But then, after we get the title card, there's one last shocking sight: a battered Tony Stark waking up in some cosmic realm, Captain America's split-in-half shield beside him. As Tony rises, he stares up a set of stairs suspended in space, and he sees that this odd outcropping is covered with the dead bodies of his fellow Avengers.
Why it matters: Avengers can't die, can they? While stars like Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth are locked into multi-film deals (which would make it hard to kill them off), the details about the contracts of the movie's newer stars like Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Scarlet Witch in AOU aren't as well-known . Also beguiling is that you have Mark Ruffalo, who plays The Hulk, and his six-picture deal without any Hulk-specific movies coming in the near future.
Whedon also has no problem killing off crucial characters, as he did with Agent Coulson in the first Avengers movie and numerous characters in his TV series.
True or false: Sorta true. There's probably some vision/daydream/worst-case scenario of the future in which characters die. But there are movie contract obligations to fulfill, and more films to make, so Age of Ultron can't kill everyone. If you are making bets, placing them on newer characters like Olsen's Scarlet Witch might be your safest choice.
4) Avengers 3 is going to be two movies
There's been a recent rash of movies and television series being split into two and extended. The third Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, was split in half to make two movies. The Hobbit was split into three movies. And the final seasons of Breaking Bad and Mad Men were split into two parts. There was some talk that Avengers 3, the follow-up to Avengers: Age of Ultron, was going to be a two-parter.
Why it matters: No one wants to see two Avengers movies that could be done in one film. And no one wants to see Avengers: AOU set the table for that.
True or False: False. Badass Digest has a in-depth explanation, but it's all a matter of contracts. For example, Evans has an obligation for six films which could make Avengers 3 his final film. If Marvel were to split Avengers 3 into two films, it would be paying Evans for one film's worth of filming, but making money off of two — mucking up its contracts and movie obligations. The lawyers would be onto this so very fast. The slight sliver of hope for this rumor would involve Avengers 3 and its followup boasting different casts in some form or another.
5) Captain America and Iron Man won't get along
This rumor has the two leading heroes butting heads with each other, threatening the fragile alliance the heroes struck over the course of the first film.
Why it matters: This rumor has some implications for AOU, but is mostly notable its potential to alter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The next MCU movie that will feature more than one Avenger will likely be Captain America 3, where Iron Man may kick off what's known as Civil War.
In the comics, Civil War hinges on the opposing views between Captain America and Iron Man and eventually (major spoiler warning) ends in Steve Rogers's apparent death. In order to make the rift believable, the discontent should start in AOU.
True or False: Probably true. Whedon is a masterful storyteller and believes in payoffs. Peppering AOU with a growing tension between Iron Man and Captain America would just be doing his due diligence.
6) Black Panther/She-Hulk/Mockingbird will make appearances
There has been speculation that there would be more future Avengers showing up in AOU. Black Panther, a character, who is featured prominently in the comics, is one of them:
Rumor is they screen tested for BLACK PANTHER yesterday. Could we see him in AVENGERS: AOU? Think it's… http://t.co/HgRh1DYE0v— Umberto Gonzalez (@elmayimbe) May 4, 2014
Why it matters: Marvel is setting up its Civil War storyline. And that Civil War storyline is about a piece of legislation called the Superhero Registration Act, which requires superheroes to comply with the government and reveal their secret identities, whereabouts, and powers. This requires lots of superheroes, many more superheroes than are currently present in the MCU.
True or False: Trueish. There will probably be more heroes and characters introduced in AOU, though they might not necessarily be She-Hulk, Mockingbird, and Black Panther. There have been pictures taken on set featuring what some are calling "Avengers recruits." If the people pictured really are recruits, then it suggests that Marvel is looking to fill out its Civil War storyline. Marvel has said that it's developing a Black Panther movie.
7) The Hulk and Black Widow will be a "thing"
Mark Ruffalo has said that his Hulk would be given a more complex role. And there are reports, corroborated by other reports, that you will see the beginnings of a Black Widow-Hulk romance in the first 20 minutes of AOU. This romance, of course, would be troubled because the Hulk can't manage his emotions, and there's the threat of going green when he gets angry or excited.
Why it matters: It would be giving Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson the opportunity to play some character development. And it would be giving AOU a romance — something we didn't really see in the first movie.
True or False: Sure. Why not? Whedon has done a similar story before on his show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In that show, Angel, a vampire with a soul and a conscience by way of a magic spell, was cursed not to feel pleasure. When he has sex with Buffy, he reverts back to a soulless killing machine. A WidHulk romance could be mapped out in a similar way.
8) Thanos is in AOU
Thanos, the looming, almighty bad guy (voiced by Josh Brolin) who has just been hanging around since the post-credits scene of the first Avengers film has been teased as being in AOU.
"[Thanos] — and his band of followers — is the biggest piece of connective tissue that will eventually lead us back into Avengers films in the future," Marvel president Kevin Feige said this summer while on a promotion tour for Guardians of the Galaxy. Also this summer,The Wrap had a source who said Thanos would be in this film.
On the other hand, Whedon has downplayed Thanos's alleged presence. "It's science-fiction, and Thanos is not out of the mix, but Thanos was never meant to be the next villain. He's always been the overlord of villainy & darkness," he said in August.
Why it matters: Thanos is crucial because he's the key linking Marvel's surprisingly successful cosmic universe (Guardians of the Galaxy) with its flagship universe, The Avengers. Fanboys and fangirls are already dreaming about a crossover, and so are the executives at Marvel.
True or false: Probably true. Consider Thanos's past appearances. He was technically "in" Avengers as a post-credits scene. He was also "in" Guardians of the Galaxy for approximately a minute. Putting him "in" AOU wouldn't be that difficult.
9) Bill Paxton will be in the movie
Who doesn't want Bill Paxton in their movie?
Why it matters: First and foremost, Bill Paxton's gravitas is undeniable:
But more importantly, this could be a way for Marvel to bridge its television projects with its movie projects. Marvel's TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't been the huge success that executives were probably hoping for. The Flash beat it in the ratings during its premiere week, and critics weren't kind to season one. Marvel putting television characters into its successful movies might be one of the ways the company could cross-pollinate success. Paxton played Agent Garrett, a villain, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
True or false: Very likely false. The film will probably not feature the master thespian because his character was killed on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, actor B.J. Britt, who plays S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Antoine Triplett was reportedly spotted on the set of Age of Ultron (though this was later debunked and denied), which could still signify that Marvel wants to make sure its television show gets big-screen exposure. It just seems unlikely that exposure will come in the form of Paxton.
Watch this: Todd VanDerWerff shows that Dylan McDermott is TV's own Nicolas Cage