Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third season of Stranger Things.
OPINION – Recent trailers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Black Widow have featured the Soviet superhero Red Guardian. Eagle-eyed fans have noticed he bears an uncanny resemblance to Jim Hopper, the vanished sheriff of Hawkins, Indiana. This has prompted a flood of online speculation about what Hopper’s appearance in the MCU could mean.
Missing in these online discussions is the fact that Black Widow is not the first film to feature Hopper. Judging by his superhero appearances, we can only surmise that at the end of Stranger Things season 3, he died, went to Hell, and is working his way back to Hawkins and his adopted daughter, Eleven. Here is our rationale for this theory:
He Appeared in Suicide Squad (2016)
Everyone knows that the lowest level of Hell is the worst one, and the only thing lower than the rest of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is 2016’s Suicide Squad. Hopper appeared under the alias of Dexter Tolliver, and his appearance in a DCEU film was obviously punishment for all the lies he told Eleven and her friends previously in Stranger Things.
He was in Hellboy (2019)
After his stint in the DCEU, Hopper seems to have worked his way into a form of Purgatory, where a sinner can undergo a brief punishment for his earthly sins. The wily and cantankerous sheriff figured out a way to shorten his stay here by causing the audience watching the film to experience far greater pain and suffering than he did.
He Plays a Hero in Black Widow (2020)
Based on the movie trailers released so far, Hopper seems to have taken on the guise of the superhero Red Guardian. If so, this could mean that he has been steadily working his way back to Earth and that he will soon be reunited with the rest of the gang on Stranger Things to combat evil monsters in Indiana, which sounds slightly better than combating evil monsters in Hell. That, however, will depend upon your feelings about Indiana.
If this theory pans out, we predict Hopper will possess the ability to sprout horns out of his forehead and turn his skin red at will. As that will inspire more than enough fear to scare off any boy interested in Eleven, Hopper will not have to resort to lying to her and that will definitely decrease the tension between the two. Mike had better watch his back.