We’ve known for awhile now that Loki is definitively a key part of the Avengers movie. This after some back and forth reportage about things Loki actor Tom Hiddleston was reported to have said which might have indicated to the contrary. But given all the givens about the Avengers, he pretty much has to be in there.
Then came surprising word out of New Mexico early in the year that local officials involved in helping to set up the shoot there had been told that the Skrulls were in the film. This led to some speculation about the Kree/Skrull war being part of the movie, but more recently the idea that the Skrulls alone are in there seems to have firmed up in the reportage surrounding the film.
My first reaction to all of that is that Avengers members + Loki + Skrulls = a pretty damn ambitious movie. In an interview with SFX last year, Joss Whedon discussed the challenges of handling such a large and diverse cast of characters:
In the outlining phase of scripting, Whedon admits it’s “been a bear and I’m still doing it because it’s finding out how to introduce people to all of these people in this world.” He mocks his predicament: “’By the way, there’s a thunder god. You guys are cool, right? This guy is big and green and this character wears an American flag. It’s all good, right? It’s totally real world.’ Finding the tone and plots that are coherent is what I go to bed thinking about and wake up thinking about, but it’s doable.
“What I will struggle with, in the outline and throughout, is that I would like to put these actors in a room and just make Glengarry Glen Ross,” he laughs. “We’re talking about really exciting people and at the same time I have to keep the momentum of the thing going. I can’t let it turn into a lull fest.
Now comes word from Latino Review that Thanos is in the film. And every fan in the world who has read about it this afternoon has thought: “AHA! That makes sense.” Because Marvel showed an Infinity Gauntlet prop at SDCC last summer, and the Gauntlet has just showed up in the Thor movie too, and they’re not doing that for no reason.
Then the equation becomes Avengers members + Loki + Skrulls + Thanos. And that equals a really, really ambitious movie, and more than a few comic book movies have been hampered by the inclusion of too many key antagonists. But maybe he’s just being introduced here to play a larger role in the future. Perhaps that’s one of the implications of Whedon’s quote above.
What future movie would that be? Iron Man 3 is the next production on the Marvel Studios schedule, and Thanos first appeared in Iron Man #55 in 1973, so perhaps that’s what they’re setting up in Avengers. My first draft of this article had this as not a good fit for Iron Man on his own, but of course — Thanos doesn’t necessarily have to have the Infinity Gauntlet at first, which potentially makes it work much better. Could they then be laying this all out for the next movie arc beyond Iron Man 3? I think that’s where it could get pretty interesting. Because Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet could imply a huge storyline, and maybe that helps hold a lot of these sequels together.
But that’s a lot of maybes. Regardless, it appears that Whedon, Kevin Feige, and Marvel Studios are attempting something increasingly ambitious here. We won’t know if they will pull it off until May 4 of next year when the Avengers opens, but in the meantime it’ll be interesting to see if any Marvel Comics editorial plans tip their hand on the roles these characters will play in the films.