Do Trading Cards Hold Answer To Mystery Of <i>Avengers</i> Villain?

The long-running mystery of the main villain, or villains, in The Avengers finally may be put to rest by, of all things, a series of trading cards.

Rumors have swirled since at least July 2009 that Earth's Mightiest Heroes would be pitted against the militaristic Kree and the shape-shifting Skrulls, two alien races whose histories are intertwined with the major players in the Marvel Universe. Presumably, the story would be based in some way on “The Kree-Skrull War,” a storyline that ran through The Avengers from June 1971 to March 1972, and detailed the heroes’ efforts to defend the Earth against the intergalactic conflict.

Speculation shifted in recent months from the Kree and Skrulls to Loki until, just last week, Thor co-star Tom Hiddleston revealed he won't appear in The Avengers, seemingly eliminating the god of mischief as the movie's villain.

And now Upper Deck has announced The Avengers: Kree-Skrull War, a 190-card set that can be assembled to tell five original comic stories centering on the classic storyline from The Avengers #89-97. As ICv2.com notes, the July set will mark the first time Marvel comics stories have been told using trading cards.

It's not indisputable evidence, obviously, but why else would Marvel and Upper Deck release a card set based on a four-decades-old storyline if it didn't tie into something new and marketable?

That said, MovieStinger has a very spoiler-y account of the post-credits scene from Thor that, if accurate, may offer some perspective on Hiddleston's comments as well as the apparent inclusion of Stellan Skarsgård's Dr. Selvig in The Avengers. Seriously, that first link contains a potentially major spoiler for The Avengers and, I suppose, Thor. So proceed at your own risk.

Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg. It opens on May 4, 2012.

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