After dissecting the [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035) trailer - and related stories - very carefully, I have come to two conclusions.
One is who the "mystery woman" in the trailer is. The other is that she may point to the very real (cinematic) death of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow!
First the mystery woman is the one standing to the left of Chris Hemsworth's Thor at the :37 mark. We know she is not Cobie Smulders or Maria Hill, who are elsewhere in the shot of the dinner party.
She isn't petite enough to be Natalie Portman's Jane Foster. She's brunette, so that means she isn't Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts. She's doesn't look like Jamie Alexander's Sif either.
Over at Newsarama, they blew the image up and here is what they got:
This actress appears to be of Asian descent!
When they investigated further, Newsarama concludes all signs pointed to one actress:
"Though the image is imperfect, the woman does appear to be of Asian descent, so that got us off Googling, trying to figure what actress it could be and why her character is included in such a key scene keeping such exclusive company.
Our best guess is it’s Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun , who was confirmed in reports as part of the cast back in March of this year. Marvel, however, has reportedly been tightlipped about her role."
Here is a photo pf Kim Soo-hyun:
Newsarama then gives a brief rundown of the chronology of rumors of her casting:
"This January report (translated from Korean websites citing Korean TV news stories) mentions the actress’s possible casting in the film, but goes on to say: “On the contrary to the wide belief that this role is a villainous one, Kim Soo Hyun will be playing a doctor who assists Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). The only villain in ‘Avengers 2′ is James Spader.” Of course, that's something we already know isn't true, as Baron von Strucker is also involved in the film and now Internet speculation is turning toward Andy Serkis (also seen in the trailer) possibly playing Ulysses Klaw.
Two months later however came this report (also translated from original Korean sources), saying “Walt Disney (Korea)” confirmed the casting, adding the actress will be billed as Claudia Kim in the film’s credits to avoid confusion with a male Korean actor with the same name.
However, that March report again pegs her as “a villainess in a supporting role.” The story adds that Kim Soo-hyun has experience with action scenes which helped her land the “coveted role” and that her scenes would be shot on location Korea (which appears to be an incomplete report if that’s indeed her in the Avengers Tower scene).
This was folowed up by this news from ScreenRant in March:
Concrete information regarding The Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s plot has been understandably difficult to come by, but with filming already underway a new cast member has just been announced. Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun (not to be confused with the other Kim Soo-hyun), who also goes by the name Claudia Kim, confirmed her entry into the Marvel cinematic universe this week on Twitter (translation courtesy of CBM):
“After a long wait, I’m happy to be back with great news. I have a lot to do ahead of me, but for now, the words ‘Welcome to the Marvel Universe’ are amazing and kind of overwhelming. I was a fan of Marvel Comics, and if you really like something, looks like fate can make it happen.”
Obviously the Marvel Universe is a pretty big place and with a number of Marvel movies in the pipeline Kim could have been referring to any of several upcoming films. Things were cleared up, however, when a Marvel official confirmed in a phone call to OSEN that Kim has been cast in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, though revealing the role she’s playing would give away too much about the plot:
“It would be a spoiler, so we can’t tell you which character Kim Soo-hyun will play. Marvel always prohibits telling too much about the story. Her character is already decided and the scene is already written so we cast Kim Soo-hyun, but we can’t let you know about her character. We only can say that her character is a substantial supporting role.”
“Substantial” suggests that Kim will be more than just a background character and that The Avengers: Age of Ultron may even be setting her up for a bigger role in future Marvel features. Her involvement in the film has been rumored for a while, and according to those rumors she may be playing a doctor with connections to Ultron, who is tasked with Tony Stark’s medical care.
Except "Tony's doctor" doesn't seem big enough a role to warrant all this secrecy, does it?
Plus "experience in action scenes" seems to be a little unnecessary for "Tony's doctor", don't you think? Heck, even if she is a traitor in their midst, it seems a lot of sdcrecy for an unknown character.
Except I think she is known. I think she will be S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Monica Chang, a character that debuted in Marvel's Ultimate comic book line, which has had a great influence on how the characters have been portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic universe so far. She later appeared in Marvel's classic "616" line of books.
The Earth-616 version of Monica Chang from Marvel's mainstream Earth-616 continuity appears in the "Avengers A.I". series.
That's A.I, as in Artificial Intelligence, as in perfect for a story dealing with Ultron.
Indeed, in the 616-Universe, Monica Chang is the CHIEFof S.H.I.E.L.D.'s A.I. Division. In the comics, Chang enlists Henry Pym to help her stop Dimitrios, (who evolved from the fail-safe virus used to defeat Ultron at the end of the "Age of Ultron" storyline.
Starting to make more sense now?
Chang and Pym then form the "Avengers A.I." consisting of a Doombot, Victor Mancha, and Vision. During their first mission, the Avengers A.I. faced hijacked S.H.I.E.L.D. Drones which attacked a hospital in Atlanta.
As of issue #4, of that series it is revealed Chang is a devout Muslim, which means she could increase the diversity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in multiple ways.
That sounds plenty interesting, but it it could be even more interesting if they choose to go with the Ultimate Comics version.
For one thing, in the Ultimate UniverseI it is revealed that Chang is Asian-American and was Nick Fury's ex-wife after the marriage fell apart after she discovered that he had been sleeping with various female members of her family and limited social circle, including her own mother.
This immediately makes Sanuel L. Jackson's character more interesting.
More importantly, Chang took over the name Black Widow after Natasha Romanoff was killed by Hawkeye after she had killed Hawkeye's family and betrayed The Ultimates! He pinned her down with his arrows and shot an arrow in her face!
Now do I think that Hawkeye is going to kill Natasha Romanoff in "Age of Ultron"? Of course not! But I do think it's very possible she gets killed off and replaced by Kim's character.
For the following reasons:
1.) Joss Whedon keeps saying a character is going to die in this movie. The one criticism of Marvel Studios movies is that there is no stakes involved. Whedon says a character will die in this movie and it can't just be another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. It has to have impact!
Before you say, "She's too important a character", remember that this is the man who killed his two most popular "Whedonverse" characters, Buffy Summers and Angel - however briefly. Also Spike - again for a short time, but still - who was massively popular on both shows. He also killed fan-favorites Jenny Calendar, Joyce Summers, Tara Maclay, and Anya on "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer"; had even more shocking deaths on "Angel", with huge characters like Doyle, Darla, Cordelia Chase, Winifred "Fred" Burkleand and Wesley Wyndham-Price biting the dust. Oh, and he killed "Firefly" favorites Shepherd Book and Hoban "Wash" Washburne as well. To top it off, when he was writing comics, he killed off his FAVORITE X-Man, Kitty Pryde.
2.) ScarJo doesn't seem particularly interested in doing a Black Widow movie anytime soon. Indeed, Scarlett Johansson seems quite content to do other films. The latest "Ghost in the Shell" rumor is a perfect example.
3.) It would explain why Thor and especially the Hulk - who is shown sharing a tender moment with Black Widow in the trailer - are SO pissed at Tony Stark. They've lost one of their own.
4.) ScarJo doesn't carry a solo franchise yet. Also, Marvel Studios may feel Captain Marvel, Gamora and others are better options.
5.) Marvel Studios may see losing the character - and replacing her with a more diverse one - as a win all the way around. Especially since Kim is unlikely to command $20 million a film like ScarJo.
Again, this is only a possibility, but the more I think about it the more i think it will be a strong one.
What do the rest of you think?