Looking at the best-yet photograph of one of Loki's army from The Avengers earlier in the day, I was struck by an impression that could potentially have far-reaching ramifications not only for the film but for Marvel's cinematic universe in general. Racking my brain for a Marvel character who looked anything like the alien invader seen here, only one occurred to me: Beta Ray Bill.
While it's wildly unlikely that Marvel would introduce a character like Beta Ray Bill as a major player in their cinematic universe, let's consider for a moment what his inclusion in the film could mean not just for The Avengers, but for the future of Marvel's movies.
If Beta Ray Bill were introduced in the film, he could theoretically step forward to take on the mantle of Thor in a time of need--like if the thunder god appeared to have "died" in combat with his brother, creating a major turning point in the film and setting the stage for a Thor 2 that explores realms our hero previously had no access to. This would also be a clever way for director Joss Whedon to fulfill his promise of killing a hero in the film, but not actually losing anyone who might be impossible to replace.
He would also--and this is something that's been rumored relatively often, given the recent success of stories like Annihilation--open the door to Marvel's "cosmic" universe. Now that they've made a half-dozen movies about the heroes who roam the streets of New York and culminated in an alien invasion, some fans will likely feel that the studio has said very nearly everything there is to say about dudes in tights punching one another for a while. And while that won't stop the sequels coming, it would make sense for Marvel to expand the nature of their films and the base of their appeal by tapping into properties with extraterrestrial roots. It would also set the stage for a story--either in its own film or in Avengers 2--where the Marvel heroes could finally capitalize on that Infinity Gauntlet prop that was seen for the blink of an eye in Thor and never followed up on.
A journey into space could also give Marvel the opportunity to introduce a Captain Marvel into the mix--likely based on the newly-revamped version from the comics--which would give them a second female hero--and this time, one who has the strength to really hold her own against extinction-level threats, just like Thor and Hulk.