When “The Avengers” hits theaters next year, it will provide be the culmination of several years of exhaustive planning by the Marvel Studios team, and bring all of the characters introduced in their recent blockbuster films together for the first time. In short, it’s an ambitious goal — and not just because they’re putting Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and Hulk on the same screen, but also because they’ll be expected to answer all of the questions they seeded throughout the five films leading up to this monumental team-up.
From Nick Fury’s back story to Iron Man’s alternate armor, there’s been no shortage of speculation fodder left behind by the studio over the last few years of Marvel movies. With that in mind, here are the ten questions we’re hoping to see answered when “The Avengers” premieres in 2012.
1. How long has Nick Fury been around?
During the multitude of Sam Jackson’s cameos as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury, he’s hinted that all might not be as it appears when it comes to him and his history with the mysterious government agency. Along with inferring that he knew Tony Stark’s father in “Iron Man 2,” Fury has also indicated some familiarity with Captain America that goes beyond reading a few old newspapers. All of this leaves us wondering exactly how long the eyepatch-sporting secret agent has been pulling strings around the superhero world.
2. What happened to the War Machine armor after “Iron Man 2”?
We know that James “Rhodey” Rhodes has his own set of War Machine armor, so what has he been doing with it since we last saw him in “Iron Man 2”? In the Marvel movie timeline, “Iron Man 2” falls before both “The Incredible Hulk” and “Thor,” so one would assume War Machine’s been called into service by the government once or twice during that time. Why haven’t we heard about it?
3. Does Tony Stark know about his father’s involvement in Project: Rebirth?
In “Captain America: The First Avenger,” we learned that Howard Stark played a big role in turning sickly Steve Rogers into the super-soldier Captain America, and in “Iron Man 2,” we learned that he went on to play a similarly integral role in founding S.H.I.E.L.D. We know Tony’s aware of the latter piece of info (thanks to Nick Fury), but is he aware of his father’s connection to Captain America?
4. Is Bruce Banner in control of the Hulk now?
The “Avengers” teaser shown after the credits rolled in “Captain America” confirmed much of what we already knew about the team’s lineup, but there have been big questions about Hulk’s role on the team. The preview didn’t seem to indicate that anyone was worried about Bruce Banner turning into his green-skinned alter ego, so what changed since we last saw him in “The Incredible Hulk”?
5. Is Black Widow on the good guys’ team?
In the Marvel Comics world, Natasha Romanoff has been on both sides of the superhuman world, cast as both a superhero and a supervillain at different points. In Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe — the inspiration for much of the cinematic universe — she was a villain who helped infiltrate and subsequently take down the Avengers team. From what we’ve seen of her so far, she seems to on the good guys’ team, but will that change?
6. What happened to Loki?
Even though Loki disappeared into the cosmic abyss at the end of “Thor,” audiences learned via a post-credits scene in that same film that he was far from out of the picture. Since then, Marvel has revealed that he’ll be one of the major players in “The Avengers,” so that begs the question: What happened between his fall from Asgard and the post-credits scene in “Thor”?
7. Who will lead the Avengers?
In the Marvel Comics world, Captain America has long been regarded as the Avengers’ team leader, despite Iron Man’s status as one of the team’s original founders (Captain America didn’t join the team until a few issues into the original “Avengers” comic book series). At the end of “Iron Man 2,” we learned that Nick Fury had turned down Tony Stark for membership on the team, but was willing to have him serve as a consultant. That, paired with his post-credits appearance in “The Incredible Hulk” as an emissary for The Avengers Initiative prompts a lot of questions about his role on the team.
8. Why was Tony Stark recruiting for Avengers in “Incredible Hulk” instead of Nick Fury?
In every post-credits recruiting scene we’ve seen thus far, Nick Fury has always been the one approaching prospective members of his Avengers Initiative — all except one, that is. At the end of “The Incredible Hulk,” we see Tony Stark making a pitch to General Ross about a new “team” he’s forming. Why the switch-up from Nick Fury to Tony Stark? Here’s hoping we get an answer next year.
9. Will the Hulk be a good guy or a bad guy?
In the first issue of the Avengers comic book series, the threat that brings together Iron Man, Thor, and the rest of the team is a rampaging Hulk. They soon learn that Loki was controlling the Hulk, though, and the jade giant joins the team. In Marvel’s Ultimate universe, it’s a similar threat that unites the team, though Captain America is around from the start this time, and plays a major role in bringing down Bruce Banner’s alter ego. Given the similarity of these two stories, it’s no surprise that everyone’s expecting to see Hulk go on a destructive spree yet again, and force the Avengers to unite against him. However, hints about Loki’s role in the film and the reveal of the Cosmic Cube call some of the assumptions into question. Will Hulk play the role of good guy in the film, or will he fall more in line with his comics counterpart?
10. What about Wasp and Ant-Man?
As I mentioned earlier, Captain America wasn’t a founding member of the Avengers in the original comic book series. However, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, and The Wasp were there from the start (and technically, so was the Hulk). Given what we’ve seen of the film so far, it seems strange that this duo seems to have been omitted from the live-action Avengers team. We know Edgar Wright has an “Ant-Man” movie in the mix, but given the character’s status as one of the team’s most regular members over the last few decades, it’s a surprise to not see him among the founding members in the movie. The same goes for Janet Van Dyne (a.k.a. The Wasp), who was the one to come up with the name “Avengers” in the comics world.