Updated 10/29 - Marvel Studios has confirmed to Newsarama that the actress seen in the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer and extended Avengers Tower party scene released Tuesday night is in fact Claudia Kim, the U.S. stage name of Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun.
They did not, however, confirm her character's name. Rumor suggests her name is Dr. Cho, a nanobiology specialist.
Original story: The collective Internet has already begun pouring over Wednesday's release of the official first Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer frame-by-frame, and there is a particular frame that caught our eyes over here at Newsarama… the one right above you.
At the 0:37 mark - the Avengers and guests are enjoying some down time together (as seen in the Comic-Con footage) and about to be confronted by Ultron Mark I for the first time.
We’re not going to rattle off the characters for you, if you’re here you know them as well as we do, but we’ll mention the inclusion of Don Cheadle as Rhodey and Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill as notable additions.
But also noteworthy is the inclusion of a ninth character - a third female - standing to the left of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. Who is the actress and what character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe would rate to be included in one of the most exclusive dinner parties on the planet?
At first, tiny glance she appears too tall to be Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, and too brunette to be Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts. Jamie Alexander’s Sif?
So we found the best resolution version of the trailer we could find, and blew up the frame and came up with this image:
Though the image is imperfect, the woman does appear to be of Asian descent, so that got us off Googling, trying to figure what actress it could be and why her character is included in such a key scene keeping such exclusive company.
Our best guess is it’s Korean actress Kim Soo-hyun (seen here), who was confirmed in reports as part of the cast back in March of this year. Marvel, however, has reportedly been tightlipped about her role.
This January report (translated from Korean websites citing Korean TV news stories) mentions the actress’s possible casting in the film, but goes on to say: “On the contrary to the wide belief that this role is a villainous one, Kim Soo-hyun will be playing a doctor who assists Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). The only villain in ‘Avengers 2′ is James Spader.” Of course, that's something we already know isn't true, as Baron von Strucker is also involved in the film and now Internet speculation is turning toward Andy Serkis (also seen in the trailer) possibly playing Ulysses Klaw.
Two months later however came this report (also translated from original Korean sources), saying “Walt Disney (Korea)” confirmed the casting, adding the actress will be billed as Claudia Kim in the film’s credits to avoid confusion with a male Korean actor with the same name.
However, that March report again pegs her as “a villainess in a supporting role.” The story adds that Kim Soo-hyun has experience with action scenes which helped her land the “coveted role” and that her scenes would be shot on location Korea (which appears to be an incomplete report if that’s indeed her in the Avengers Tower scene).
In March, Screenrant also found a statement given to a Korean news agency about the casting, which read:
”It would be a spoiler, so we can’t tell you which character Kim Soo-hyun will play. Marvel always prohibits telling too much about the story. Her character is already decided and the scene is already written so we cast Kim Soo-hyun, but we can’t let you know about her character. We only can say that her character is a substantial supporting role.”
Other rumors about her role include a villainous character connected to Ultron and/or holding a more direct connection to Baron von Strucker, who was seen in the mid-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier apparently creating the twin characters Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's superpowers.
Of course, being in the Avengers Tower scene and initially appearing as Tony Stark’s doctor or colleague wouldn’t disqualify her from ultimately being a villain. Given it’s a brand new, but reportedly "substantial" supporting role, a trusted traitor in their midst (particularly during the first appearance of Ultron) would make some storytelling sense and also explain why Marvel might be reluctant to name her character and/or confirm whose side she’s on and why details could be considered a "spoiler."
And not for nothing, but requiring experience in action scenes is also an interesting qualification for a heroic physician.
Whatever her allegiances, one possibility for her character is S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Monica Chang. The character debuted in the Ultimate Universe, a significant influence on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and was later introduced into the mainline Marvel Comics world.
Her job there? Well, she’s the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s AI (artificial intelligence) division. In fact, her division, which also featured upcoming MCU stars Hank Pym and The Vision, was created during the comic book event called, you guessed it, Age of Ultron.
And in the Ultimate Universe, she even took over the name Black Widow when Natasha was… let’s just say compromised.
Marvel has yet to officially comment to Newsarama on the actress’s identity. We'll update if and when they do.
Avengers: Age of Ultron opens May 1, 2015 in North America.