The Avengers: More Alien Speculation

Who are the (apparent) aliens who make up Loki's army in the upcoming film version of The Avengers by Firefly creator Joss Whedon? It' such an enduring mystery that some have begun to speculate the whole thing might be a ruse. Still, in case it's not, it's worth wondering (yet again) who these villains are, in light of a recent screen grab that gives viewers their best look yet by far.

We sat down with an old copy of Marvel Chronicle and pulled out some villains who seem like, with a little tweaking, they could be a match for what we're seeing on the screen and the front of the toy boxes.

The Skrulls

No, no, wait--hear us out. It's already been pointed out that the Skrulls are one of those weird situations where it would be plausible to see them as part of the Fantastic Four deal over at Fox. That may or may not be the case, but if it is it could explain some things. What if early drafts of the script were written using Skrulls (who, you'll remember, were much more a focus of the comics around the time this movie was announced) and then, when it became clear that there might be rights confusion on the characters, that idea was scrapped in favor of using some other race, but with Skrull-like characteristics retained? It may sound far-fetched, but it's happened before. It's how Marvelman was created!

By the way, a reboot of Fantastic Four looks to be all but a sure thing, with Chronicle director Josh Trank circling the flick the last anyone heard.

Ultron

One of the most popular Avengers villains among the fans, he's been known to create an army of duplicates of himself, all controlled by the "main" Ultron, in the comics (he once took over a small country in Europe using this strategy). he's also a character whose appearance has changed a lot over the years, and so with whom the filmmakers might feel somewhat free to take creative license. Add in the fact that Brian Michael Bendis' Avengers swan song is a massive Ultron story, coming this summer, and you've got a fairly decent circumstantial case as to why he might be a good candidate.

All that said, while the demonic features are right up his alley, anything looking even a bit like organic flesh (which these baddies at least seem to have) isn't really Ultron's bag. He's more of a straight-up robot type, not like...

Annihilus

Another character who might be disqualified simply because he's got a long history with the FF, he's a green, armored villain whose most recent incarnation (seen at right) isn't entirely dissimilar to what we're seeing plastered across entertainment news sites all over the Internet this week.

Like Ultron, he's been featured prominently in recent Cosmic Marvel stories, including Annihilation, which could potentially fling the door wide open if Marvel were more interested in pursuing that part of their superhero universe for future films.

But we already discussed that.

The Controller

This one seems like a longshot, not just because he's mostly human-looking but also because, let's be honest, it's not as though Iron Man--Marvel Studios' premiere franchise character outside of The Avengers itself--has a deep well of great villains to choose from. Taking an Iron Man villain away from him and giving it to the team movie (where you could choose from dozens of other threats--Captain America has enough cool villains we'll probably never see them all) seems pretty counterintuitive.

That said, his mind control would gel nicely with the way Loki has been depicted in the films and with rumors that an Avenger would be compromised at some point in the flick.

Thanos

There's nothing this dude wouldn't do--he's taken on alien armies, he's cloned himself, he's battled nearly every character in the Marvel Universe at one time or another.  And, of course, the headpiece that the alien is wearing on the screen capture has some resemblance to the one that Thanos is traditionally depicted as wearing.

All of this, plus his favorite toy--the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet--has been spotted in the Marvel cinematic universe (briefly during Thor). That said, Thanos is not a "plays well with others" kind of guy and it seems unlikely that he'd be taking his marching orders from anyone, even a god like Loki. Maybe he loans Loki his army, though, if he thinks there's a bejeweled glove in it for him. He's like Michael Jackson that way.

The Deviants

A great choice that I haven't heard discussed a lot online so far, the Deviants are a hideous race of godlike beings related to the Celestials, who are deeply religious which, given their betrayal at the hands of their ACTUAL creators (The Celestials) might lend itself well to becoming the army for an angry god. The race is distinct from, but related to, the Skrulls, allowing Whedon and company to have their cake and eat it to in terms of using the Skrulls while not actually calling them that.

The race has also been mistaken for monsters over its long history in the Marvel Universe, which puts them on something of a parallel track with the Asgardians, who have been around for centuries and not really understood by mankind.

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Dire Wraiths

Another group of aliens with ties to the Skrulls, this race first appeared in ROM #1 and have periodically reappeared in Marvel Comics over the years. A remarkably ugly group of nasty critters, their ties to the Celestials, the Skrulls and more or less every other "cosmic" Marvel hero over the course of the last thirty years could make them a really appealing villain in terms of expanding the Marvel Universe and introducing new characters for a potential sequel.