Several new characters are set to join the ranks of Marvel's Phase Two films. Captain America: The Winter Soldier will see the addition of Anthony Mackie as The Falcon and Robert Redford as the new head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Meanwhile, Thor: The Dark World will see a mighty new villain in Chris Eccleston as Malekith the Accursed.
But it won't be all fresh blood. In addition to the leads, both movies are bringing back many key returning characters, including Arnim Zola in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (played by Toby Jones) and Volstagg in Thor: The Dark World (played by Ray Stevenson). In two recent interviews, these actors talked a bit about their roles in the hotly anticipated sequels.
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog, Stevenson talked about the higher stakes of Thor: The Dark World.
Stevenson: In the first “Thor” Asgard had this tremendous peace among the 9 realms. They were riding at the heights. Everything is working and looking as it should be. In this one, the realms are being whipped up into various rebellions. There is a darker malignant force out there and we are in the process of engaging in long protracted skirmishes and battles. The luster and shine of the city has been taken off and it all leads to a huge assault, an attack at the heart of Asgard. It could be completely wiped out, the stakes are a lot higher.
Stevenson also talked about Volstagg's skills as a fighter and how his character won't be able to rely on the Warrior's Three in the film.
[Volstagg is] great on a battlefield. He is one of the warriors three and doing what they do, their time is spent fighting on many different fronts. They’re not always fighting together. Volstagg is struggling, he has a brood, they are fighting for hearth and home as much as for the idea of Asgard itself. That’s where he has trouble.
Stevenson raises some interesting points about the plot of Dark World. With the 9 Realms essentially at war, Thor will need to show his leadership to keep Asgard from falling apart. As we've seen in the trailer, however, because of his new and powerful enemy Malekith, Thor will have to turn to his brother Loki for help. That's a juicy plot and something that should excite fans of the first film, who hoped to see more of the mythic world and less of Thor on Earth.
In a different interview with Coming Soon, Toby Jones talked about his returning role as scientist Arnim Zola in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Specifically, Jones hinted at how the character has "defeated time" to live in the modern world.
All I can say about it is that I was pleased to be brought back. I thought I might be--because you'd know better than I do--but Zola finds a way to defeat time and you won't be disappointed with the way that's been treated in the film, that's what I would say.
While those words don't offer much concrete detail, there's plenty to speculate about, including the possibility that Arnim Zola may take a form more familiar to comic book readers. As Marvel.com explains, "all of Arnim Zola's powers are derived from his equipment. Zola houses his consciousness in an android body, complete with a television-like image of this face on his chest." Could we see Toby Jones' face projected onto a robot body? That bit of character development was certainly foreshadowed in Captain America: The First Avenger, when Zola is first introduced onscreen:
There's also a possibility that Jones could use some variation of the Super Soldier formula to keep himself young, but that's pretty boring - especially if that's how The Winter Soldier (aka Bucky Barnes, played by actor Sebastian Stan) manages to stay alive for 70 years.
What do you think of Ray Stevenson's comments on Thor 2 and Toby Jones' comments on Captain America 2?
Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015 and Ant-Man on November 6, 2015.