We've been squinting at every little scrap of footage we can get our hands on for months, trying to unravel just who's populating this otherworldly army backing up Loki in The Avengers. There are a number of theories, some more popular than others, and Joss Whedon refuses to say which one (if any) is right. But he's finally willing at least to call one theory wrong.
Whedon was in Austin over the weekend to roll out his horror flick Cabin in the Woods at the SXSW festival, and he also took the time to field some Avengers questions at a panel event. Among those questions was a call to finally reveal the mysterious rogues that we've glimpsed in the trailers chasing a flying Iron Man. True to form, Whedon gave the joke answer first.
"It's the Vulcans," he said. "I don't know a lot about the Marvel universe, and I thought there were Vulcans. I know we're going to get a lot of emails about that one."
Did anyone really expect Whedon to come right out and say, "OK, I'll talk. It's these guys"? Probably not, but when the laughter died down from his Vulcan joke, he was at least willing to give a definitive denial: "I will say only this: It is not the Kree or the Skrulls."
That sentence dealt a major blow to more than a few spoiler hunters who've been campaigning on the Skrull theory for months. They're one of the longest-serving villains in the Marvel universe, celebrating their 50th year of comic book life (the Kree are just behind them at about 45 years), and that's exactly why Whedon didn't want them in his movie.
"Those two aliens are Marvel mainstays and have enormous backstories," he said. "They have a big life of their own that just could not be contained in a film where I already had seven movie stars."
Whedon also noted that the particular power set of the Skrulls would have made it even more difficult to integrate them into his already-huge supermovie.
"The Skrulls—they can shape change. That's a whole thing," he said. "I've already got Loki. He's got magic. Once you got magic along with your Iron Man and your Black Widow—it's a real juggling act."
But of course, the revelation that you can't count on seeing either of these Marvel aliens in the flick only raises more questions. Why all the secrecy about who these guys are? We already know (or think we do) that Loki's the main villain for the flick. Are the aliens staying secret because they're a setup for The Avengers 2? Is there something about them that's so integral to the plot that their very identity would spoil the whole movie? Not surprisingly, Whedon's mum on that.
"What's probably happening is that I just said something that Marvel didn't want me to," he said. "It's weird to be fired so late!"
We've got less than two months to go before The Avengers hits theaters. It's doubtful Whedon will reveal his villains before then, but at least the wait is short.