While this week’s barrage of Marvel movie casting rumors and reports have focused in on Ant-Man, the second project entering production this year for Marvel Studios is their biggest one to date: The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The sequel to the third largest grossing film of all-time brings back the heroes from the first team-up but aims to shake things up with multiple new villains.

James Spader (The Blacklist) was cast as the evil artificial intelligence known as Ultron early in The Avengers 2 process and more recently we learned that writer and director Joss Whedon and co. are on the search for someone to possibly play Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. German actor Thomas Kretschmann is that someone.

THR has the scoop that Kretschmann, who currently plays Abraham Van Helsing in NBC’s Dracula TV series (Marvel must love NBC primetime), has joined the large cast of The Avengers 2 as another key villain. It had been previously rumored that Marvel was interested in Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible II) and Marton Csokas (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) for the part, a male actor in their forties, but it seems they’ve chosen a German-born actor to play a character who fought for Germany in WWII. That is, in Marvel Comics.

We know in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, at least a few characters from the past will resurface in the present – namely, the villainous Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) – but we don’t quite yet know if they’ll be connected to von Strucker.

Click here for a High-Res image of Baron Strucker for the Captain America movie tie-in game.

From our last post on the character, below is my description and how he could (should?) be introduced in Captain America 2. That film just so happens to have started reshoots this week and serves as a bridge between The Avengers and its sequel. Perfect timing to get Strucker into a scene (maybe a post-credits button)!

Recognizable by his facial scarring, Baron Strucker uses a combination of HYDRA supersoldier serums and a special bionic arm (called the Satan’s Claw) to maintain his strength and youth throughout the ages. The ex-Nazi served in both World Wars, carries a sword and is dangerous in every sense of the word, as a melee, ranged or undercover combatant/spy. Having this character in The Avengers sequel but not introduced The Winter Soldier would seem an odd choice for the obvious reasons of being able to include him flashbacks for both Cap (from the WWII days) and in flashbacks with Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) – a character Strucker helped become the dangerous assassin she’s renowned as.

The character may serve as a villain early on in the film before Ultron becomes the primary antagonist and its possible that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, originally villains before becoming heroes in Marvel Comics, may work with him before joining The Avengers.

Share your thoughts on the casting in the comments!

More: Marvel Boss Talks ‘Avengers 2′ Title & Roster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie news!

Source: THR