After months of speculating when characters such as Black Panther, Captain Marvel and the Inhumans might be getting their own movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige announced its full Phase 3 lineup last month, which kicks off in 2016 with Captain America: Civil War and ends with the two-part Avengers: Infinity War in 2018/2019.
Over the course of the next few years, Marvel is expected to introduce a number of new key players into its cinematic fold, including T'Challa, the Black Panther; Carol Danvers, the new Captain Marvel; and the royal family of Attilan, aka the Inhumans, Black Bolt and Medusa.
But obviously, the new character introductions won't stop there. All of these heroes are going to need villains to play off of, and Marvel also hasn't been shy about introducing a wave of supporting characters in its films who go on to have a larger role down the line, such as Black Widow, Falcon and James "Rhodey" Rhodes. With that in mind, here are 10 more characters that should be on Marvel's short list for its Phase 3 slate.
Potential Films: Guardians of the Galaxy 2; The Avengers: Infinity War (Part One, Part Two)
In this case we mean the abstract entity that also doubles as the unrequited love of the Mad Titan, Thanos. In the comics, Death’s presence as the one Thanos just cannot please, no matter how hard he tries (i.e. slaughters billions of innocent people), is as essential to the drama as the Infinity Stones. Wooing Death drives Thanos above all else and it’s one of the wrinkles that makes the character undeniably fascinating. Otherwise, Thanos is just another power hungry supervillain without a real purpose beyond mass destruction.
Just as Jim Starlin perfectly captured in many of his classic comics, the Marvel Cinematic Universe must incorporate Death as a potential love interest for Thanos, only to ultimately mock and scorn him, driving the Mad Titan even madder with self-doubt.
Potential Films: Doctor Strange
According to some rumors, Marvel originally planned on introducing Doctor Strange in an origin story that had the “Sorcerer Supreme” facing off against rival magician Baron Mordo. But Marvel reportedly rejected this idea in favor of moving away from doing another origin story when introducing a new film franchise.
So, if Marvel is scrapping a Strange origin story, it should also scrap any plans to use Mordo as the primary villain. No offense to Mordo, but he’s just vanilla ice cream when compared to the over-the-top evil and occult awesomeness of Dormammu, the master of the Dark Dimension. Certainly capturing a demonic magician with a fireball for a head will create some cinematic challenges, but a Dormammu/Strange battle (a la the great Stan Lee/Steve Ditko story, “The Eternity Saga), would be far more compelling and tell a greater tale of Strange overcoming the odds to become the master of the mystical arts.
Potential Films: Doctor Strange; Avengers: Infinity War (Part One, Part Two)
Originally introduced during Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s delightfully trippy run on Strange Tales in the 1960s (which featured a Doctor Strange story every month), the cosmic entity Eternity would be quite an abstract character for Marvel Studios to bring to the big screen. But considering how the studio has been doubted in the past only to succeed with gusto, there’s no reason Eternity can’t be introduced in Doctor Strange and become a permanent part of the MCU (with other cosmic entities to hopefully follow).
In the comics, Strange first seeks counsel from Eternity during his epic battle with the demonic Dormammu. Eternity gives Strange the confidence to defeat his arch-foe without help, giving the “Sorcerer Supreme” the capacity to tap in to a whole new level of power.
The character would continue to appear in many Marvel Cosmic-themed stories, including the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, when Thanos enslaves all of the cosmic entities in his bid to impress Death. Since all Of Marvel's films like to build off one another, it would be a nice payoff to see Eternity become a part of the Phase 3 Avengers finale involving Thanos and the gauntlet.
Potential Films: Black Panther
Speculation was already running rampant when the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer showed a quick glimpse of actor Andy Serkis looking very much like the Black Panther’s arch-nemesis, Ulysses Klaw. A physicist with a specialty in sonics, Klaw gets connected to T’Challa dating back to his very first appearance in Fantastic Four #56 when the Panther recalls how the evil scientist killed his father in an attempt to steal his country’s supply of the expensive metal vibranium.
Klaw would go on to become a thorn in the Avengers’ sides as a member of the Masters of Evil. His outward appearance would change over the years, including the addition of a sonic gun on his right wrist. He even manages to turn himself into sound at one point, making himself immortal in the process.
Potential Films: Guardians of the Galaxy 2; Inhumans
It’s a safe bet that the royal family of Attilan, namely Black Bolt and his bride Medusa, will be featured prominently in Marvel’s Inhumans film. But if this movie is going to have a dramatic hook, there needs to be a compelling villain. So why not incorporate Black Bolt’s schizophrenic brother Maximus, who is often depicted as being a major thorn in the royal family’s side?
Technically, Marvel could introduce Maximus in a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, given the character’s prior history making nefarious deals with the alien Kree empire. But the character will truly shine playing the role of insanely jealous brother to Black Bolt, constantly looking for ways to grab control of a throne he thinks is rightfully his.
Potential Films: Guardians of the Galaxy 2; Captain Marvel; Avengers: Infinity Wars (Part One, Part Two)
One of the truly great Marvel rogues who has shockingly not been rumored to appear in any of these films thus far, the case must be continually made for the time-travelling empire conqueror, Kang, to be utilized in some fashion in Phase 3.
The beautiful thing about Kang is that outside of Doctor Strange or Black Panther, the character could reasonably fit in to almost any type of Marvel movie. His time-traveling abilities make him a logical adversary for the cosmic heroes like the Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain Marvel, while his penchant to take over the world makes him a prime threat for the Avengers. Kurt Busiek’s the “Kang Dynasty” is one of the greatest Avengers stories from the past 30 years, and would be a fantastic choice for a future film adaptation of the Infinity Gauntlet hadn’t seemingly been set in stone years ago. Still, there’s got to be a way for Kang to finally get his big screen debut over the next few years.
Potential Films: Thor: Ragnarok
If the third Thor film indeed captures Ragnarok – a great war that, according to Norse mythology, destroys all of the gods – then Surtur is a surefire bet to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the prime antagonist for Thor and (depending on which side he's on) Loki. The ultra-powerful demon has appeared in a number of Thor stories over the years, but is probably best remembered for his central role during Walt Simonson’s legendary run on the book in the 1980s. He also famously appeared at the end of the second volume of Thor (in the appropriately titled story, “Ragnarok”) when Thor allows Surtur to blow through Asgard in an attempt to end the vicious cycle of rebirth and death caused by the mythological apocalypse.
Depending on Marvel’s long-term plans for Thor, either Simonson’s “The Surtur Saga” (where Thor and Loki survive) or Michael Avon Oeming and Daniel Berman’s “Ragnarok” (which put the Thor universe on hiatus for few years), would be appropriate choices for a cinematic adaptation
3. Wonder Man
Potential Films: Captain Marvel; Avengers: Infinity War (Part One, Part Two)
Marvel has given us no reason to believe that its cast of Avengers won’t be constantly expanding even beyond those heroes who have their own solo movies coming out over the next five years. As such, in order to anticipate who else might be introduced in Phase 3, it makes sense to consider some “deeper cut” Avengers like the villain-turned-hero, Wonder Man.
Wonder Man has been a character in the Marvel Universe since the early 1960s and an on-and-off member of the Avengers since the 1970s. With strength that is said to rival that of Thor’s, he would make a worthwhile replacement for the Thunder God if Marvel Studios decides to trim the Norse fat from its Avengers lineup over the next few years. Additionally, the character could be a critical supporting cast member in the Carol Danvers-led Captain Marvel movie in 2018. Wonder Man and Danvers engaged in a romantic relationship during their stint as teammates on the Mighty Avengers in the late 2000s.
2. Beta Ray Bill
Potential Films: Guardians of the Galaxy 2; Thor: Ragnarok
As one of Marvel’s most popular characters created during the Silver Age, it’s a bit surprising that the horse-faced alien Beta Ray Bill has yet to make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fortunately, with the way Marvel continues to broaden the scope of films, there’s ample opportunity for Bill in Phase 3.
For one, Marvel could go the cosmic route with Bill and introduce some iteration of the space-seafaring superteam, the Annihilators, in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel in 2017. The Annihilators – as the name implies – epitomize a comic book supergroup, consisting of some of the most powerful cosmic characters in Marvel history. Certainly they would be a worthwhile match for the underdog Guardians as either friends or enemies.
Of course, the more obvious route would be to include Bill in Thor: Ragnarok. He was first introduced by Walt Simonson at the very beginning of his “Surtur Saga” arc and is one of Thor and Odin’s hand-picked soldiers to defend Midgard (Earth) when the demonic Surtur makes his play to end all life on Asgard.
Potential Films: Captain America: Civil War; The Avengers: Infinity War (Part One, Part Two)
When questioned about the recent rumors that Sony Pictures property Spider-Man could appear in a future Marvel Studios project, Marvel head Kevin Feige neither denied nor confirmed the Web Slinger’s potential inclusion. Some might take the non-answer as a sign that nothing is imminent, but for those of us who dare to dream and fantasize about the cinematic possibilities of Spider-Man and the Avengers, Feige has given us a Lloyd Christmas-sized chance.
A movie that even loosely adapts Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Civil War miniseries would feel naked without Spider-Man, but just in case a deal cannot be brokered between Marvel and Sony in time for 2016, the two-part Avengers film in 2018 and 2019 is a likely landing spot if such a union is ever going to happen. With those movies looking to be an Infinity Gauntlet adaptation, the Avengers are going to need every high profile hero they can recruit to take on a threat as dire as Thanos and the gauntlet. So suit up Spidey.