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Five questions “The Avengers” didn’t answer

Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans in The Avengers

"Wherefore art thou, War Machine?" and four more questions that bothered us so after "The Avengers" credits rolled.

Unless you’ve been in a media blackout the last few days, you know that “The Avengers” broke all sorts of records this weekend.

And while I’ve gone on record with my fondness for Marvel’s superhero team-up extravaganza, I had a few questions that went unanswered when the credits rolled in “The Avengers.” From the whereabouts of War Machine to the ancestry of the film’s alien invaders, here are five of the biggest questions I was left pondering after watching the big-screen debut of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. (Oh, and for anyone who hasn’t seen “The Avengers” yet, be warned: this will contain some big spoilers!)

1. Where was War Machine?

Last seen in “Iron Man 2,” Iron Man’s armored, heavily weaponized counterpart piloted by James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) was conspicuously absent from “The Avengers.” One can’t help wondering what sort of threat was more deserving of War Machine’s attention than an army of aliens and an angry god threatening to take over our entire planet. After all, if one highly mobile, flying tank with energy weapons can do that much damage to an invading army, how much of Manhattan could’ve been saved if Iron Man and War Machine were on the case?

2. Are the Skrulls around?

Long-rumored to be the villains of “The Avengers,” the Skrulls are a race of shape-changing aliens that the superhero team has battled with many times in the comics world. Marvel successfully pulled one over on all of the outlets that claimed to “confirm” the Skrull’ presence in the film, though, and made the Chitauri the common foe that forces Earth’s heroes to unite. It’s worth noting, however, that the Chitauri were introduced as an alternate-universe version of the Skrulls in The Ultimates, a comic book series that reimagines the Avengers in a more modern-day setting, but the alien race was later reclassified as an off-shoot of the Skrulls. So are the Skrulls still out there, threatening to infiltrate Earth? As one of the Avengers’ recurring enemies, it would be surprising to see the studio ignore the shape-changers’ potential.

3. Is Bruce Banner in control of Hulk?

At the end of “The Incredible Hulk,” a brief shot of Bruce Banner’s eyes going green hints that he might be gaining control over his monstrous alter ego, and that seems to be the case in “The Avengers,” too. When Banner (Mark Ruffalo) smiles and tells his teammates that he’s “always” angry, then intentionally turns into Hulk, it would certainly seem that the man and monster are at least somewhat united in purpose. So what happened when he went all “Hulk smash!” on Black Widow and Thor? I can’t help wondering what the real dynamic is here, and how conscious Banner is of Hulk’s actions. We certainly see a bit more awareness (and even a sense of humor) in Hulk during “The Avengers,” so here’s hoping another solo film featuring the green giant will shed more light on the relationship between Banner and Hulk.

4. What is The Council?

At several points during “The Avengers,” Nick Fury is shown arguing with a shadowy group of advisors he calls “The Council.” So what is this mysterious organization? Its members seem to outrank the S.H.I.E.L.D. chief, so I can’t help wondering whether the group is some part of the U.N. or another international organization that only exists in Marvel’s cinematic universe. Could they have been the real group pulling the strings throughout all of Marvel’s movies? This might seem like a small thread to pull, but there’s reason to believe a big web could be at the other end of it.

5. The Infinity Gems, I presume?

The post-credits scene reveals that Thanos, one of the Avengers’ greatest enemies, played a role in pairing Loki with the Chitauri for the invasion of Earth. Thanos is best known in the Marvel Comics universe as a powerful alien who once sought after — and eventually wielded — the Infinity Gauntlet, a golden glove with six powerful “Infinity Gems” embedded within it. The gems each control one element of the universe (time, space, mind, soul, reality, and power) and when wielded collectively, make whoever wears the glove practically invincible. The Infinity Gauntlet actually appeared in “Thor,” and Marvel carted the prop to Comic-Con last year to show it off, so now that we’ve seen the big-screen version of Thanos there’s reason to believe he’s up to his old tricks again.

So my final questions fall along these lines: Is the Tesseract one of the Infinity Gems? And what about the orb in Loki’s staff?

Given its ability to open a portal to the Chitauri fleet, there’s reason to believe the Tesseract is the Space Gem. And with Loki using his staff to control Hawkeye and other members of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s not too far-fetched to think that orb is the Mind Gem. Could we have already seen two of the gems Thanos will go after in his bid for power?

What were some of your post-”Avengers” questions? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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