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In Marvel Comics, the team known as The Avengers has never included just one particular set of heroes; it's a rotating membership. So while characters like Iron Man and Thor were the founders of the squad, over the years they left, came back, and were replaced by other superpowered individuals who will help save the world at any cost. We've always expected that the movie version of the Avengers would follow the same path, but it looks like it's happening sooner than we thought - as in some time in the midst of Joss Whedon's The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
This past summer, BuzzFeed had the chance to interview Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige on the set of Avengers 2, and while discussing the company's future plans, the executive confirmed that the Avengers lineup that we will see at the start of Age of Ultron will be different than the one shown at the end of the film. Discussing the Avengers films as "big, giant linchpins" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and comparing them to the massive crossover events found in the comics, Feige noted that Whedon's film will change Phase Three of the MCU as the characters we see return back to their own stories. Said the executive,
"It’s like as it was in publishing, when each of the characters would go on their own adventures and then occasionally team up for a big, 12-issue mega-event. Then they would go back into their own comics, and be changed from whatever that event was. I envision the same thing occurring after this movie, because the [Avengers] roster is altered by the finale of this film."
Of course, how this quote can be interpreted is definitely up for debate. For example, is it possible that he is simply referring to the additions of characters like Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and Vision (Paul Bettany)? Because that certainly qualifies as "altered." Then again, there also exists the possibility that the movie could go to the extreme in the other direction and debut all kinds of superheroes from Marvel Comics that we haven't seen yet on the big screen. Or it could land somewhere in the middle and the finale will feature a group mixing both old and new heroes. Regardless, of which option is chosen, expect it to shake up the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a major way.
We don't necessarily want to know exactly what Kevin Feige means until we get to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron in its entirety for ourselves, but it sure would be nice if time would move a little faster so that we can see the film sooner. Right now we still have 186 days to wait until the film arrives in theaters on May 1st.