Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thomas Kretschmann Cast as Baron Strucker in THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

At last, are we finally getting S.H.I.E.L.D. versus HYDRA?

The Hollywood Reporter has announced that German actor Thomas Kretschmann has landed the role of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker in Joss Whedon's Avengers sequel, The Avengers: Age of UltronKretschmann is perhaps best known as Abraham Van Helsing on the NBC TV series Dracula, and played Hauptmann Kahn in the 2013 film Stalingrad and Cross in the movie adaptation of Wanted.

Kretschmann's casting follows on recent news that Elizabeth Olsen will play the Scarlet Witch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson will be the Scarlet Witch's brother Quicksilver, and James Spader will voice the film's sentient android villain, Ultron.  Kretschmann will be the second actor to portray Baron Strucker in live-action, after Campbell Lane in the 1998 TV movie, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #5 in 1964, Baron Strucker is a former Nazi officer that became the head of HYDRA, the main terrorist organization in the Marvel Universe that functions as a rival to S.H.I.E.L.D..  Made nearly ageless thanks to a serum, Baron Strucker essentially serves as Nick Fury's arch-enemy and was recently shot in the head by Fury in Secret Warriors #27.  Strucker's children Andrea and Andreas von Strucker were killed by Baron Helmut Zemo and Norman Osborn (a.k.a. the Green Goblin) respectively, while Strucker killed another of his sons, Werner.

HYDRA was last seen on film in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, formed during World War II by Hugo Weaving's character, the Red Skull.  It's not yet known if the Red Skull or HYDRA scientist Arnim Zola will return in Age of Ultron.

Also not known is how HYDRA will connect to the ABC TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which has yet to reference the organization during its first season.  However, the series has made a number of nods to April's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so those connections may be made somewhere down the line as Age of Ultron draws closer.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is scheduled to arrive in theaters on May 1, 2015.

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