There are four movies based on Marvel Comics properties opening in theaters in 2014: Captain America: The Winter Soldier will show up in April, Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past in May, with August's Guardians of the Galaxy perhaps serving as a direct lead-in to The Avengers: Age of Ultron in May 2015.
Much of the most recent news on Age of Ultron has revolved around some of the early set footage and confirmation of the various international shooting location, along with the casting of the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. himself, Paul Bettany, as the Vision. And later this month, an ABC special will debut footage from the sequel.
When it comes to the villains, James Spader will portray the titular evil android Ultron, and will be joined by Thomas Kretschmann (Van Helsing in NBC's Dracula) as HYDRA member Baron von Strucker. Not much is known about von Strucker's role in Age of Ultron, but we have new details about Kretschmann's involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.
Speaking to B.Z. Berlin (by way of CBM), Kretschmann confirmed that he will be in more than one Marvel Studios film, but appears know about as much as you or I about the story details:
“I have a multi-picture deal which means I will not only appear in the 2nd part, but they're planning with me for a longer period of time. But I don't know details yet, they're keeping their cards close to their chest - top secret!”
Kretschmann is no stranger to big budget productions, having appeared in Bryan Singer's World War II drama Valkyrie as well as Peter Jackson's King Kong remake, but evidently being cast in The Avengers sequel was nerve-wracking. According to Kretschmann:
“Oh yes, I was nervous. I was overprepared; then on the set I went up to Joss Whedon, who passes for a genius, and said 'this is my first day, this is huge, please have patience with me, I'm a bit nervous.' ”
Kretschmann's confirmation about a multi-picture deal is interesting, but given Marvel's pattern of locking down actors across a span of films, not surprising. Unless Kretschmann is referring to rehearsals or other pre-production commitments, it sounds like he's already shot a portion of his role.
One big question is whether or not Baron von Strucker will actually be introduced somehow in the upcoming Captain America 2. The character is traditionally a HYDRA villain and adversary of Captain America, although he has worked with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch and even helped Black Widow become a dangerous assassin.
Kretschmann's multi-picture contract definitely means he'll be involved in projects beyond Age of Ultron, but it's entirely possible - perhaps even likely - that he'll be teased in The Winter Soldier and/or Guardians of the Galaxy. When ABC airs their special on the Marvel films later this month, we might know more.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.