The first season of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is now in the books, after nine weeks of frenzy and speculation from Marvel Cinematic Universe fans. Across the show's episodes, a lot of theories swirled about how the show could tie into the larger franchise — and whether or not we could see cameos from returning villains. One of the biggest possibilities floated among fans was that Samuel Sterns / The Leader (Tim Blake Nelson) would be returning from his stint in 2008's The Incredible Hulk, and secretly pulling the strings of the Intelligencia. That theory ultimately never came to pass, even as Nelson was confirmed to reprise his role in the upcoming Captain America: New World Order movie midway through the season — but according to She-Hulk head writer Jessica Gao, there was briefly a plan to bring him into the show's fold.
"In my original pitch, I did have The Leader in there," Gao revealed in an exclusive interview with ComicBook.com, which you can check out above. "Just as an option, as a suggestion, you know? But really, I can't remember why [it was scrapped]. I don't remember if it was organically taken out, because we just came up with other stuff, or if we were told no. I honestly don't remember. But there was thought about either bringing him back or doing some version of a new version of Leader, or some relation to him. But, I mean truly, this was three years ago, and the show has evolved so much that I don't remember what actually happened."
How will The Leader return in the MCU?
While we don't know the exact circumstances regarding Nelson's return as The Leader in Captain America: New World Order, the idea of the mad scientist crossing paths with Sam Wilson / Captain America (Anthony Mackie) and company is definitely compelling. As New World Order director Julius Onah told ComicBook.com's Brandon Davis earlier this year, Leader was one of the most enticing aspects of the project.
"Let's just say one of the things that really drew me to this project is The Leader is a man who operates from intellect, and so it's great to have an adversary who is working with this incredible intellect to really, you know, put Sam through the wringer in this story,' Onah said. "And again, as a paranoid thriller, is this grounded adventure where I think that everything that happens in this film feels so real and intense, because of who this adversary is. So, back to that other question of yours, what he's going to have to go through in this film is because he's got an adversary who is so terrifyingly intelligent."
Would you have wanted to see The Leader appear in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!