Photos: Marvel Studios (left), Marvel Comics (right)
BURBANK, CA–In a breaking announcement made last week, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has divulged that the villain of Avengers 5, as well as the overall arch-nemesis of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4, will be none other than The Leader.
A longtime nemesis of the Hulk in the comics, the Leader, a.k.a. Dr. Samuel Sterns, was first teased in fan-favorite Marvel film The Incredible Hulk (2008). His character was portrayed by Tim Blake Nelson as a morally ambiguous scientist, and the film briefly but intentionally showed his brain getting exposed to gamma radiation as a result of his experiments. This event foreshadows his transformation into the Leader–a green-skinned mad genius for whom gamma radiation enhanced his intellect rather than his physical strength.
“Introducing the Leader as early as we did was definitely intentional,” Feige stated in a press conference. “Sure, we haven’t seen him since then in 11 years’ worth of movies, but he’s actually been working behind the scenes, plotting and waiting. In fact, Phase 4 will reveal that Loki, Thanos, and most of the other villains so far were merely pawns being orchestrated as part of the Leader’s overarching grand plot, to distract the heroes from his true intentions. So, I guess you could even say that those films were all a bit misleading. Heh.”
Having also portrayed Dr. Harvey Elder (a.k.a. comics villain the Mole Man) in the critically acclaimed Fantastic 4 (2015), Nelson currently holds the world record for “Most Marvel Villain Alter Egos Portrayed without Actually Becoming the Villain Yet.” We here at Marvelous Movies look forward to seeing Nelson and his portrayal of the Leader finally getting their time to shine in Phase 4 and beyond.
The Leader’s return is expected to be teased in the post-credits scene of 2020’s Black Widow film, foreshadowing further appearances in The Eternals and future films until the storyline’s grand culmination in Avengers 5. “We know that thousands of fans have been eagerly anticipating the Leader’s return to the movies for years,” Feige added. “It’s definitely been a long time coming.”