Rumors began swirling last month that classic Marvel Comics bad guy Baron Von Strucker would be going up against the Avengers in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." And now, not only is that news confirmed, but we have an actor to put to the character: Thomas Kretschmann, who plays Van Helsing on "Dracula."
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Kretschmann has officially signed on for the part, a "major villain role" that will play second fiddle to James Spader's artificial intelligence Ultron. Earlier rumors stated that Strucker would be the pre-credits bad guy (think any James Bond movie) who helps bring the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) into the fold, though we may have to wait for 2015 to find out definite confirmation on that bit.
Strucker has a long, storied history in the comics, both literally and figuratively. He was first introduced in 1964 as a Nazi officer going up against Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos during World War II. Though he doesn't have any powers, Strucker is essentially immortal. His physical prowess has brought him into conflict with Captain America, mostly as one of the leaders of HYDRA. Fans of the movies may remember HYDRA as the evil organization headed by the Red Skull in the first "Captain America."
Additionally, Strucker has two twin children, Andrea and Andreas, who can activate blast-energy powers when they touch. It's possible (though this is just speculation) that the twins Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver may take their place in Marvel Cinematic continuity.
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" will hit theaters May 1, 2015.