7:37pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'The Avengers': Toy Company Potentially Unmasks Joss Whedon's Surprise Villain
Comic book fans be warned. If you're planning on avoiding Avengers spoilers ahead of the film's May 2012 release, this could be a big one.
Toymaker NECA sent a release detailing HeroClix product descriptions to retailers this week, and among the new collectables are Marvel's figurines for The Avengers. And while the heroes -- Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) -- and big bad Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are included, so is a previously unconfirmed character.
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Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving in last summer's Captain America: The First Avenger, is also name-checked, as MovieWeb points out.
The telling release reads as follows: "Charging straight out of theaters and onto your tabletop, Marvel's the Avengers Movie HeroClix set features heroes like Captain America and Thor as they battle the villainy of the Red Skull and Loki! Each Counter-Top display includes standard one-figure boosters as well as new three-figure 'Team Packs!' Team Packs are designed with strong thematic undertones - play a Hydra force or defend freedom with a S.H.I.E.L.D. team pack."
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Could Red Skull be playing second fiddle to Loki? The Joss Whedon-directed feature has been rumored to have another villain since production started, but it's thus far been kept a secret.
NECA could just be bundling related Marvel characters together, but the end of Captain America certainly didn't rule out future appearances from Weaving's Red Skull.
The Avengers arrives in theaters May 4, 2012.