More information on the next Captain America: New World Order was recently revealed, including the film’s villain. The enemy isn’t one of Cap’s villains, with Tim Blake Nelson returning as Samuel Sterns, aka The Leader. As many comic book fans know, The Leader is not a Captain America villain but the Incredible Hulk’s rival.
Mixing rogue galleries is something the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done before, and it’s becoming more and more debatable. The practice threatens to confuse the public by grabbing properties instead of developing them and making the direction of the franchise as a whole questionable. Here’s why Sam Wilson’s next villain is entirely the wrong enemy.
Sam Wilson fights the leader of the Incredible Hulk in Captain America 4
Many fans are likely excited to see Sterns return to the MCU, with the character last seen reaching his powers in a brief scene in 2008. The Incredible Hulk. Unfortunately, he is not opposed to the Hulk but to Captain America. It makes absolutely no sense, considering The Leader is one of the Hulk’s main enemies, even debuting in his one and only MCU film. And the current Hulk status quo makes the lack of Sterns fighting Bruce Banner even more of a waste.
Currently, Hulk is Smart Hulk, combining the green giant’s body and powers with Banner’s intelligence and personality. Having a Smart Hulk up against an even smarter leader would make for a great movie, and it could lead to the return of the Savage Hulk to the MCU. Unfortunately, with Leader taking on Sam’s incarnation of Captain America, that probably won’t happen. It also means Cap’s true villains are overlooked on the big screen.
The MCU Doesn’t Understand The Power Of Villains With The Mark Of Ownership
The MCU has been criticized for its poor villains, which is probably why the movies feel like blockbuster productions with only a few minor elements tweaked here and there. Very few heroes have reached iconic villains themselves, which hurts the long-term health and memory of their properties. In the case of Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, and the X-Men, part of their staying power is that the villains are as recognizable as the heroes. Even the average person can name Joker, Catwoman, Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Lex Luthor, and Magneto. At the same time, as popular as Iron Man is, none of its villains resonate in pop culture. It’s a result of the MCU not developing these properties and their villains with a greater focus on “the next big thing” hype.
In the Captain America movies, the only Cap villain (aside from the Winter Soldier) who really got his time in the spotlight was the villainous Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. Of course, he became the guardian of the planet Vormir, this development not even being shown on screen. Cap has tons of cool villains, but they’re always ignored in order to focus on the Avengers antics as a whole. This included Crossbones and Baron Strucker, who were just small characters. Likewise, as supposedly anemic as Iron Man’s rogues gallery is in the comics, Ant-Man and Shang-Chi had to steal it. Developments like these make one wonder whether these characters, who have been around for decades and have yet to face the enemies of other heroes, really deserve their own feature films.
This is unfortunately a question that now deserves to be asked for the fourth Captain America film. And it’s even worse because he’s the villain that Sam Wilson’s Captain America will face on the big screen, but he’s not even from that particular property. Keep in mind that for all of their character changes, the MCU Spider Man the movies still only had him fight real Spider-Man villains. Such development isn’t given to Captain America or other MCU properties, which makes them all a bit hit and miss.
To see Sam Wilson take on The Leader, Captain America: New World Order opens in theaters May 3, 2024.