Now that Marvel has managed to build a movie universe out of characters largely unknown to casual fans, things look to really get interesting. ‘Phase One’ of Marvel’s movie plan has come to completion, providing origin stories for their heroes and universe, having the Avengers assemble, and hinting at figures and forces beyond Earth’s sight.

For ‘Phase Two’ things are going cosmic, as proven by the presence of Thanos, and the Guardians of the Galaxy actually getting their own film. But in the midst of all the rumors and confirmed details, fans of Marvel’s Cosmic fiction have been asking: where is Nova, and what’s being planned for Quasar?

Based on recent reports and our own suspicions, we’re beginning to think Marvel might pull a surprising move with the bearer of the Quantum Bands. Could Quasar first appear not as part of ‘Phase Two’s galactic conflict, but be introduced via S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America 2? The move wouldn’t just give fans a hand to hold when ‘Phase Three’ begins, but could build the kind of bridge we’ve yet to see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We’ve speculated on Quasar being included in Guardians since the property was first announced as one adaptation Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige hoped would succeed. Yet Quasar was noticeably absent from the concept artwork, and has yet to be revealed or discussed. Of course, that artwork also failed to show Nova as a potential character, and we can’t believe Marvel will let that be the case (we’re not alone on that, either). But rumors of a live-action Quasar are anything but new.

Back before the Marvel train had become unstoppable, casting rumors dealing with the extended universe ran rampant. Kevin Pennington was one young actor signed on for a three-picture deal, and while that contract bore little fruit, the presumed size of the role and Pennington’s description of his character as “maskless” had many predicting the imminent announcement of Quasar.

In hindsight, Marvel took baby steps in approaching their Cosmic fiction, which has turned out to be a wise move. But if Quasar was on their minds back then, the momentum gained by ‘Phase One’ means the time may be right. The question then, is how Quasar – a title held by more than one Marvel hero – would fit into the movie universe – and for fans, whether the ‘Cosmic Avenger’ would need to be preceded by Captain Marvel. If that’s the case, Marvel has a LOT of groundwork to lay (although new rumors of Ms. Marvel being cast bolster the idea). But perhaps we’re thinking about this the wrong way.

Marvel is currently casting for a pair of “physical” male roles in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and considering the skills of both actors being considered, it doesn’t seem to be a bit part. Which leads us to wonder: what absence is currently left in the roster? No vacancy stands out more than that left by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson, liaison between Marvel’s super-powered individuals and the government agency overseeing them. Coulson is set to return in Joss Whedon’s S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series, but a continued role in the films is still unconfirmed.

Captain America’s film franchise is the most clearly aligned with S.H.I.E.L.D. at the moment, with ‘Agent 13′ a.k.a. Sharon Carter set to be introduced in The Winter Soldier, alongside The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). The latter’s origin story is possibly being rewritten as a second attempt at Cap’s ‘Super Soldier Serum,’ so the ties between the team’s leader and the organization are being strengthened. Yet those roles still leave the opportunity to introduce another S.H.I.E.L.D. operative who can franchise-hop, in order to establish continuity before Avengers 2 (played by someone with a schedule less hectic than Scarlett Johansson or Jeremy Renner).

When the casting rumors first surfaced, we argued that Josh Holloway (Lost, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) would be tailor-made for such a role, having already proven his likability and operative skills on celluloid. The physicality required by Marvel in casting the role also implies that the new character will be expected to do more than just paperwork. With that in mind, could the new S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in Captain America 2 be none other than Wendell Vaughn?

NEXT PAGE: Quasar’s Origin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe…

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