Where there is much light, the shade is deepest.
Recently, we gave a glimpse into the future of the MCU through its heroes. So, today, we’re going to be shining the spotlight on five faces of darkness. As we are all familiar with who Loki and Baron Zemo are, we’ll attempt to keep it tight by only discussing the soon-to-be-faces of evil in the MCU… along with a select couple we have good reason to believe will appear soon.
Come on now, let’s take a look.
1. Taskmaster: “Black Widow”
- First appearance: The Avengers #195 (May 1980)
First up, we have the Taskmaster. Yup, he might be flitting his claws like a butterfly, but do not be fooled because this beautiful creature may very well be the harbinger of death. The enigma of Marvel Studios upcoming film, “Black Widow”, the Taskmaster is not one you would want to cross paths with.
Tony Masters does not necessarily rest on the same power class as the other baddies on this list but that doesn’t mean he deserves to be disrespected. What Masters lacks in superhuman strength, flaming corneas, and reality-warping abilities, he makes up for with his superb photographic reflexes/memory.
The Taskmaster is known for his uncanny ability to replicate moves just by observing them. This is shown in the trailer for “Black Widow” where he is shown to be observing Natasha’s dizzying moves from security camera footage. This would prove extremely handy with him using his mental almanac of moves against his opponents, countering their every move, surprising them with killer combat from his other observations. This mimicking ability would also give him the edge if he needs to blackmail certain heroes.
Besides, he also carries a variety of weapons which include (but are not limited to) a bow, claws, a shield, and a sword. Hmm, we wonder where he got the idea from… Although he traditionally sports a more angled, cranium-like headpiece in the various media he has been in, the MCU’s version looks more like a souped-up biker’s helmet. More practical, we guess?
Needless to say, the character has served as a thorn in the side of the Avengers for a long time as he has pored through their various moves. He’s sparred a variety of heroes ranging from Spider-Man, Iron Fist, Captain America, and Daredevil in the comics, and as such, would look to be a worthy adversary for Natasha and her crew in the upcoming film.
2. Namor the Submariner: “Black Panther 2”
- First appearance: Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939)
It’s strange how Namor has not had a major live-action appearance up till now considering his place in the Marvel pantheon. The Submariner is one of Marvel’s oldest and longest-running characters, having appeared before Marvel Comics was even known as Marvel Comics. The character made his debut during the golden age, fighting battles alongside Captain America and the android known as the Human Torch.
Think DC’s Aquaman, but with elf-like ears and wings on his ankles. That’s been Namor’s staple look for the years. A human/Atlantean hybrid (just like mah man), Namor is an absolute force to be reckoned with. We mean, truly, this dude is like Aquaman. He can
hold meaningful discussions with mind control fish. He’s got superhuman durability. He can control the currents to his will and more.
Another interesting thing to note about this character is that he is Marvel’s first published mutant. This is due to the fact that some of his abilities are not derived from his heritage but rather from mutation. Atlanteans are not known to be able to fly, but Namor seems to be one to possess this aerial gift.
Even though Namor’s abilities are very much like Aquaman, he’s less of a hero than his DC counterpart. Namor has butted heads with heroes and villains alike over his 80-year history on the pages. Essentially an antihero, he’s both defended Earth against extradimensional threats and declared war upon the land-dwellers who he perceived as having wronged his kingdom.
Now, regarding the live-action film rights to Namor, it’s a little complicated just like The Hulk. As of now, Marvel apparently owns the rights to the character. Nevertheless, two years ago, Kevin Feige revealed that the distribution rights for the character still belong to Universal. So, it seems like Marvel would be able to use the character so long as he does not headline his film.
The Submariner has been rumoured to appear in the “Black Panther” sequel as there is a passing line in “Avengers: Endgame” hinting of the Atlantean’s presence. However, seeing as there might be some setbacks due to the tragic passing of the franchise’s main lead, Chadwick Boseman, it remains to be seen as to whether this character will be part of the plan in the future.
Could Namor’s introduction in the MCU prove to be a backdoor pilot for mutants and eventually the X-Men? Who knows? It might be a while before we’re ready to hear the famous “Imperius Rex” war cry on-screen for the first time.
- First appearance: Strange Tales #110 (July 1963)
He sees you when you’re sleeping. He stalks you in your dreams. Marvel’s Freddy Krueger is no clawed mutant but he sure as hell knows how to strike fear in his opponents.
Nightmare has long been rumoured to be the main antagonist in the upcoming “Doctor Strange” sequel. Although there have not been any official announcements as to who might be playing the villain, there is good reason to believe that this character will tie in perfectly to what Marvel may be trying to achieve with this film.
Considering that “Doctor Strange and The Multiverse of Madness” is set to lean more into the horror aspect, Nightmare fits perfectly into this theme. It will be interesting to see what evil wonders he will have in store of Strange and Maximoff. In the case of the latter, we should be seeing the aftermath of her reality-warping actions in the Disney+ series, “WandaVision”. As such, the Scarlet Witch’s torment will only be magnified by the presence of Nightmare.
As the freakish overlord of the dream dimension, Nightmare’s abilities are near limitless as he draws his power from dreams. His deathly pale face is sure to strike fear among his opponents as he torments them in their sleep. He’s able to capture an individual’s astral form and drag it to his dimension to feast on the horrors that he unleashes upon it.
Oh yeah, he also has a cute lil’ black beauty that he summons at will. Dreamstalker. Yeah. Metal.
The most terrifying aspect of Nightmare is that he seemingly cannot be destroyed. As long as dreams persist within the subconscious plane, Nightmare too will continue to exist. It really would be a true test of interdimensional prowess for both the Sorcerer Supreme and the Scarlet Witch if this demonic monarch was to face off against them.
4. The Mandarin
- First appearance: Tales of Suspense #50 (Feb. 1964)
This baddie was teased way back in 2008 when the MCU’s first outing, “Iron Man”, was shown to the world. Tony Stark was captured by a terrorist organisation known as the Ten Rings, which at that time, was a significant easter egg due to the character’s association with the rings.
Eventually, the character made his appearance in the 2013 Shane Black film, “Iron Man 3”. But ehh, we all know how that turned out. As much as the movie thrilled with its character-driven plot, proving that the man was more than the armour, the big twist in the second act was a divisive one. In its defence, it was a well-executed jest. Nonetheless, it angered many comic-book fans who were expecting a more accurate portrayal of the source material, not just some random ac-thor played by Ben Kingsley named Trevor Slattery.
However, a Marvel one-shot, “All Hail The King” was released alongside the home media release of “Thor: The Dark World”, focusing on Slattery’s newfound fame in incarceration. It’s a brilliant montage of his past endeavours, eventual hiring as the infamous performer, before devolving into chaos by its resolution. By its end, the short confirms (albeit ambiguously) that the Ten Rings organisation is still at large. The real Mandarin is still out there!
It was only apt that Marvel followed-up on this hanging thread by declaring the character’s involvement in the upcoming “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” film. Legendary Hong Kong actor, Tony Leung of “In The Mood For Love” fame, will portray the fan-favourite villain.
As much as the character has existed in the MCU for a while, his actual role and abilities remain mysterious. However, if we were to look at the comic-book version of the character, he’s portrayed as a brilliant scientist cum martial arts warrior. His mastery of chi is so great that he can survive without food and water for a long period. Beat that Hua Mulan!
The Mandarin’s primary source of power comes from the ten Makluan rings that he wears. When utilised, it gives him abilities akin – but not to the same extent – to that of the Infinity Stones. Telepathy, gravitational shifts, spectral beams, reverse entropy (giggles in “TENET”*), these can all be achieved with the ten rings.
If the Mandarin remains somewhat close to the power levels of his comic-book counterpart, our boi Shang-Chi has got a real big problem on his hands. Let’s just hope Sonic the Hedgehog comes in and hands Simu Liu a bunch of his golden rings to fight back, eh?
5. Kang The Conquerer
- First appearance: Avengers #8
OK. Seriously. We don’t think many understand the significance of this.
News recently swooned around “Lovecraft Country” star, Jonathan Majors as his involvement in the MCU was brought to attention. According to Deadline, the actor had been cast for a part in Peyton Reed’s “Ant-Man 3”. That same report also revolves around the character Majors was playing, hinting that the actor would be donning the outfit of Kang The Conqueror.
For the uninitiated (if you’ve never played Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2), Kang is a time-hopping villain, to say it in simple terms. What complicates it is the identity of the character. You see, in the comics, the character’s real name was Nathaniel Richards. Yup, Richards. Like “Reed Richards” Richards.
However, Nathaniel was born in the 30th century on another reality, one that never experienced the Dark Ages and has experienced great advancements in technology, rendering time-travel possible. Nathaniel is said to be a descendent of Reed Richards and Doctor Doom who learns of his future villainy and attempts to prevent by taking on the name Iron Lad. However, after a brief stint with villainy, an adult Nathaniel Richards grew bored of life and said in his best Ted Logan impression: “Woah, I wanna go back in time to become a Pharoah.” So he did.
Does your head hurt yet? Don’t worry, we’ve got more timey-wimey tales to tell.
His peaceful time as Rama-Tut is disrupted by a time-displaced Fantastic Four, who force him into the present, where he chances upon his ancestor, Doctor Doom. After the encounter, Nathaniel is inspired to build himself a suit of armour, calling himself the Scarlet Centurion but that moniker is shortlived once he is defeated by the Avengers.
Not to be defeated, Nathaniel Richards assumed a new identity, one that would conquer all time. Kang.
Now, Kang’s an intelligent dude with a variety of 30th-century tech at his disposal. His armour gives him the ability to time travel at will without creating a splinter timeline. He has an antigravity controller that can render matter weightless. There’s a variety of future firearms that he uses which include an antimatter field generator, a vibration-wave projector, an electromagnetic field amplifier, a hand-held warhead launcher, and a molecular expander. Talk about overkill.
Riding in style in his sword-shaped spaceship, the Damocles Base, Kang has everything he requires to conquer all of time. What stands in his way are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Kang’s ties to the Fantastic Four could very well have a direct connection to how the First Family is introduced into the MCU. Unless Feige and Co decide to go with a different direction, the Richards moniker would be a tantalising nugget for fans, seeing as to how significant that name is to the comic-book lore.
Considering that “Avengers: Endgame” opened a whole can o’ worms regarding time travel, its paradoxes, and the mechanics of such, Kang seems to fit in seamlessly to expand that concept. It’s also ironic that Scott Lang (while some might argue a random rat) was responsible for saving half the universe but seemingly unleashed more terrors upon this world through the Quantum Realm.
It will be interesting to see how Scott Lang and Hope Pym fare against such a formidable foe because frankly, we think they’ll be wrecked. These two wouldn’t stand much of a chance on their own unless they called for backup. He’s an Avengers level threat, one that could very well match what Thanos did.
This dude is THE DEAL, alright. There’s no telling what sort of destruction he will leave in the wake of his temporal-displacing ventures. Indeed, we’re salivating at the prospect of getting a live-action version of Kang soon, so yes, we’re hoping he’s the next looming big bad.
Which villains are you most excited to see in Phase 4? Are there any more evil Marvel antagonists you think could make their way into the MCU soon? Leave your picks in the comments.