Outside of it including a reunion of familiar heroic faces and a return appearance of Thanos, little is known about the story of The Avengers 2, how it will conclude "Phase Two" of the Marvel cinematic universe, or how it will lay the groundwork for Phase Three, which kicks off with Ant-Man in 2015.
In fact, we don't even know the official title of the sequel, but we expect it not to go with the standard Iron Man style numbering scheme. What we can expect, from Joss Whedon's vague hints, is that it'll be darker, more personal and more emotional. And we know that that means when it comes to Whedon.
During a Q&A at the Carlton Cinema in Dublin on February 23, 2013 for the European premiere of Much Ado About Nothing, Whedon couldn't avoid receiving at least one question about about his goals for The Avengers 2.
"When I actually considered doing Avengers 2, my first question was what can I do that's new? Because I can't make it bigger [audience laughs], but I can make it better, so that's where I'm sort of going with that."
When asked what his general philosophy is for the sequel, without getting into details, Whedon followed up with a dark voice:
"Death, death and death."
You can listen to the raw audio here - start at 14:10 for the brief Avengers 2 snippet and listen to the roaring crowd reaction.
Looking back on Whedon's track record, two characters didn't survive the run length of Serenity; fan-favorite Agent Coulson took a death blow to the chest courtesy of Loki in Whedon's first Marvel movie; and fans are still sad of Felicia Day's demise in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (is that sequel still happening?). Even when writing Astonishing X-Men for Marvel Comics, Whedon couldn't resist quasi-killing off a main character at the end.
It's very likely - expected even - that some of of Marvel's greatest heroes may meet their end in The Avengers 2, making room for new character introductions during Phase Three of the Marvel cinematic universe. Ant-Man and Dr. Strange are (officially) on the way and we're still holding out for other introductions for characters including Black Panther.
However, there's always a deeper meaning to be found in the jokes and teases dropped by the creative minds behind each Marvel film. And by "death," we don't expect Whedon to be just referring to the passing away of the likes of Captain America or Hawkeye. Even in jest, Whedon is name-dropping the character of Death, personified in the books as a cosmic creature, one who was referenced in the post-credits button in The Avengers by The Other which resulted in that now infamous Thanos grin.
Thanos loves Death and aims to prove his loyalty to her. In the comics, he even destroyed half the Marvel universe thanks to the power of The Infinity Gauntlet (An object in Odin's vault from Thor) in an effort to earn her favor. Her name and Thanos' reaction to hearing it at the end of The Avengers is very intentional and we'll find out more in Guardians of the Galaxy next year, if not, sooner.
What character(s) could you see Whedon and Marvel Studios "killing off" in The Avengers 2?
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, 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.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie news.
Source: Whedonesque (Hat-tip Chris S)