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Thomas Kretschmann cast as villain Baron Strucker in 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

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The primary villain in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is no secret (in fact, it’s right there in the title). But in an announcement today, Marvel surprised fans of the film franchise by revealing that Thomas Kretschmann, best known as Van Helsing on NBC’s “Dracula,” has been cast as a second villain, Baron Strucker.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Baron Strucker is a “major villain” and “antagonist for both Captain America (Chris Evans) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)” in the sequel to Marvel’s 2012 billion-dollar blockbuster. That would appear to follow the continuity of the comics, where, according to Wikipedia, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker is a former Nazi officer and one of the leaders of HYDRA, a covert organization that’s essentially the bad guy version of S.H.I.E.L.D.

However, Kretschmann’s casting in the role also offers hints that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” may be breaking away from established continuity. In the comics, Strucker is the father of twins, Andrea and Andreas, “who can activate blast-energy powers when they touch,” according to MTV News. With the previous announcement that Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have been cast as the sister-brother duo Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Kretschmann’s Strucker steps in as their evil German father, especially since Magneto (the character’s evil German father in the comic books) is part of the X-Men universe, whose rights are owned by 20th Century Fox.

Regardless, the casting of yet another new character for the film promises a sequel that’s even bigger and broader than the first superhero team-up. "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is expected to be released in theaters on May 1, 2015.

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