Samuel L. Jackson let it slip last week that he was testing with several actresses who were gunning for the opportunity to play his sidekick in The Avengers. Jackson of course, plays Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and so fans knew that this character would be fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill.
Over the weekend we learned that How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders was the top candidate in the running for the part, a role that could see her play an increasingly important character as The Avengers propels the franchise forward. Now comes word that Smulders has the part and is in final negotiations.
Variety has the scoop which details that she's the definite pick of director Joss Whedon and that her deal would see her potentially star in 9 films, a relatively standard number for Marvel Studios and their long term plans.
In the books, Agent Hill is a strict, stern and tough agent who at one point takes charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. I expect Marvel is planning something like that for The Avengers sequels, especially if they begin to incorporate major Marvel Comics cross-over events like Marvel Civil War.
The casting marks Smulders' first major film role and it may take fans of How I Met Your Mother a little time to adjust after six seasons of associating her with cable comedy. That being said, Smulder has the look, expression and voice to play a determined and confident S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent and she's very likable.
As if The Avengers were not big and exciting enough for fans of the books and moviegoers alike, bringing together all of the headliner superheroes from Iron Man, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, but it's adding in stars left, right and center. Mark Ruffalo is joining the cast to play Bruce Banner/Hulk and we're getting introduced to Hawkeye, to be played by again-Oscar-nominated Jeremy Renner. Joining all of these heroes are supporting actors Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg and several other familiar faces from the films to date.
Is there still room for any other additional characters or cameos?
The Avengers begins filming this Spring and is set to open next Summer, on May 4, 2012.