Marvel Unveils <i>Avengers</i> Set Pic, Confirms Hiddleston Will Appear

Just as it seemed we'd zeroed in on the main villain(s) for the Joss Whedon-directed Avengers, Marvel has thrown another curve.

Earlier this month Thor co-star Tom Hiddleston suggested he wouldn't be appearing in the ensemble superhero film, moving suspicion from Loki back to the alien Kree and Skrulls. But this morning Marvel announced production had officially begun on The Avengers -- Whedon beat the studio to the punch on Sunday -- in the process confirming that Hiddleston and Stellan Skarsgård will be reprising their Thor roles.

So the god of mischief will be a villain in The Avengers, although not necessarily the villain. (A very spoiler-y account of the post-credit scene from Thor may provide a little more insight.)

The studio also released the first photo from the set, featuring the cast's chairs lined up in front of the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.

Hiddleston and Skarsgård join stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg and Samuel L. Jackson. Cobie Smulders also appears in the film, which is shooting at at Albuquerque Studios in New Mexico and other locations throughout the state before moving to New York and Cleveland.

The Avengers opens on May 4, 2012.

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