To say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) Phase 4 has been erratic would be a major understatement. You’ve got super-spy thrillers to mystical kungfu flicks to cosmic horror films, all building up to individual paths that don’t really connect! Then you have the TV shows like “Loki”, “WandaVision”, “Moon Knight” and “Ms Marvel”. All wildly different in tone with seemingly no connection to each other.
Occasionally we will see Phase 4 films like “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” link up with the story beats established in “WandaVision”. Or with Yelena from “Black Widow” appearing in the “Hawkeye” series. Still, it all feels so disparate and unfocused. Where is the MCU heading towards? This new era seems to be opening on all sorts of different fronts but where is it all leading to? More importantly, whose it all leading towards?
Right now in the MCU, there are some possible candidates for the new big villain for Phase 6 (keeping in mind that we’re 2 freaking Avengers movies in 2025). So get out your Disney+ accounts and guidebooks ready because we’re running down the list of characters poised to threaten the universe and beyond!
1. Kang the Conqueror
In the mind-blowing ending of “Loki”, we learn about the Multiversal Wars waged by multiple variants of one Nathaniel Richard, a brilliant genius in every timeline. Some were nice and others not so much. We met a variant of him, He Who Remains, maintaining the balance of the multiverse in the final episode of “Loki”. As Sylvie stabs He Who Remains, he slyly tells her “I’ll see you soon”, implying that with the Sacred Timeline broken, there was nothing to stop other darker versions of himself from rising to take his place. Lo and behold, Loki returns back to the Time Variance Authority (TVA) only to find that in this timeline, it is controlled by one of Marvel comic’s most infamous variants of Nathaniel Richards, Kang the Conqueror.
If there’s any character more qualified to take over Thanos’ throne, it would be Kang. According to He Who Remains, the multiverse was in utter chaos with different variants conquering entire realities and universes! With the technology and power Kang wields, he could easily dominate the main MCU, also known as Earth-616. The nicer variant was already capable of creating an organisation responsible for maintaning and fixing timelines. Now imagine what the power-hungry Kang could do. He’s set to make an appearance in 2023’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and right now with the latest update from this year’s Comic-Con, Kang is confirmed to be the main antagonist in “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty” which is set to be released in 2025!
2. Doctor Doom
The man is easily one of the most iconic villains in Marvel comics. Don’t let those awful live-action adaptations fool you. He isn’t just some mad scientist or mutated freakshow. No, he could take on the Avengers alone and come up on top. His technological abilities is on par with that of Tony Stark, he’s an expert in all manners of combat and he’s also a master of magic. At some point, he was even considered as a potential candidate for Sorcerer Supreme! That’s right, his powers rival that of Doctor Strange. Oh, and he’s also the ruler of an entire nation called Latveria. Lex Luthor ain’t got nothing on this guy.
Has Doctor Doom made an appearance in the MCU yet? No but we do know as of now that the “Fantastic Four” is set to be the final film of Phase 4. And of course, you can’t have a film about the Fantastic Four and not include their most famous villain! However, there’s a chance that we might get to see the masked ruler sooner than expected. There’s been rumours swirling about that Doctor Doom will be playing a role in the upcoming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”, which is set to be released this year. He’ll apparently be the mastermind behind the war between Atlantis and Wakanda. What’s even more interesting is the the announcement of “Avengers: Secret Wars”, which could be based on the 2015 comic event by Al Ewing. An event that sees Doom become the literal God-Emperor of the Marvel Multiverse. Regardless, sooner or later, the MCU will meet its Doom!
There are some hidden evils lurking in the deep, dark parts of the MCU. Eldritch gods who would want nothing more than to drag the MCU’s Earth-616 and the whole multiverse down into the depths. One such being would be the demonic creator of the Darkhold, Chthon. First seen in “WandaVision”, the Darkhold is a book of immense power, full of spells and curses that draw from the most dangerous and malevolent type of magic, Chaos Magic. It’s the kind that corrupts the soul and messes with the natural order of life and death. The scariest part is that it’s got spells that can enable its users to enter into other universes and possess their bodies.
In “Multiverse of Madness”, Wanda learns that long before she ever became the Scarlet Witch, or was even born for that matter, Chthon had prophesised of her coming. The question is: what nefarious purpose did Chthon have for Wanda? Was it trying to use her as a vessel to cross into the multiverse? Wanda decided to end her own life and destroy its temple along with the Darkhold before we could get any further answers. That being said, the threat is far from over. It seems that this dark being may have just found a new host, our dear Doctor Strange. For more details check out breakdown of the ending of “Multiverse of Madness”.
4. Infinity Ultron
As far as we’re concerned, we’ve already seen the first Avengers-level battle of Phase 4 in “Marvel’s What If…?”. One that the denizens of Earth-616 are blissfully ignorant of. They’ll never truly known how close their universe came to being annihilated. They never had to face the wrath of Infinity Ultron! This metal man single-handedly wiped out all life in his universe. He killed Thanos in mere seconds. After wielding his universe’s Infinity Stones, we became aware of the multiverse and made it his mission to cleanse the multiverse of all life. The cosmic threat Infinity Ultron poses makes Thanos’ snap seem small in comparison. This guy literally devoured an entire galaxy with one bite!
In “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, we saw the genocidal A.I. fail to bring his twisted sense of order to the universe. He was completely destroyed by Vision. Infinity Ultron, too, was defeated before he and a variant of Killmonger were sealed away in a pocket reality by the Watcher. Defeated and contained…but not destroyed. It’s also worth noting that Ultron is more than able to survive outside of his physical self in a digital form. It’s more than possible that Ultron could have uploaded a copy of his mind into a device from another universe. Perhaps, he’s still out there, bidding his time. Looking for the right variant of himself to use to free his physical body from imprisonment. For Ultron, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.
5. Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
Sure, she’s not exactly a multiversal threat (yet) but there is a lot more to Valentina Allegra de Fontaine that she lets on. She says she represents some shadowy organisation that is focused in meta-human affairs. She managed to recruit John Walker into becoming U.S. Agent as seen in “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”. She almost got Yelena to assassinate Clint Barton in the “Hawkeye” series. Clearly, there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye. So far, she’s appeared in two series in Phase 4, which means she’s a key player in the grander scheme of things. The MCU has plans for her, but what exactly? Well, in the comics, Fontaine wasn’t just some covert agent. No, she managed to rise through the ranks to lead the organisation of HYDRA as Madame Hydra.
With the fall of both the old S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA, there was a power vacuum left in their wake. One that Fontaine could fill. She’s proven to be an expert manipulator thus far. In a deleted scene of “Black Widow”, she was originally meant to appear to Yelena, misleading her to Barton. Fun fact, she was also lover to Nick Fury in the comics. What’s her game here? Is she trying to start an Avengers team of her own? Only time will tell but one thing’s for certain, we’ll be seeing her in the future.
So what do you think of these villains? Which of them will take Thanos’ place? Be sure to let us know in the comments!