Concept art can be a tricky thing. Go too out there, and you'll never see your designs anywhere near a cinema screen. Stay too conservative, and you'll end up in exactly the same boat. It's a balancing act, and a delicate one at that.
Fortunately, Marvel Studios only seem to employ the very best artists, and as a result, their concept art tends to be pretty perfectly positioned in between the two extremes. This consistency, though, might just have inadvertently blown a classic piece of (Marvel Studios president) Kevin Feige subterfuge...
The best part? To see how this happened, we get to dig away at a whole bunch of classic Marvel Concept art, with an awesome target in our sights: a huge reveal about Avengers: Age of Ultron...
So take a look at this giant pile of concept art, and see if you can spot the recurring theme:
All by Andy Park
Plus, from Marvel themselves:
Iron Man 3
by Josh Nizzi
Thor: The Dark World
Andy Park, again.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Those Marvel scamps again.
But what does this all mean?
I Know what you're thinking - this is all well and good, but what on Earth does it reveal about Avengers: Age of Ultron? Well, check out just one more:
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Again, via Marvel
Here's what Kevin Feige had to say about that particular image:
"That little tease was very intentional on our part. We found it a very compelling image to throw out there. The specifics around it we don't have to do for a while. It's a piece of armour we've wanted to see on screen for a long time, let's put it that way. What is the Hulkbuster suit built for?"
Which is saying... pretty much nothing. Feige is a man perfectly happy revealing massive plot points - but only in his own sweet time.
This time, though, he might just have slightly overplayed his hand. We already know that the Hulkbuster armor exists - it featured briefly in Iron Man 3. The question is simply whether or not they're going to use it in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Here's where all that other concept art comes in - and why what ties it together is so important. The main thing? When Marvel releases concept art, it tends to be remarkably close to how that scenes ends up looking in the final film.
Putting random concept sketches out into the world simply isn't the Marvel way. They commit to plot, to design, even to framing, and they do it early. Which means, that Hulk v Hulkbuster fight scene?
Expect to see that in [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035), come 2015. Most likely framed more or less exactly like that. With a plot in which The Hulk goes uncontrollably wild alongside it.