The resounding success of Marvel's Cinematic Universe has been nothing short of astonishing. The highest-grossing film franchise of all time is responsible for starting off a whole new trend of shared universes across the movie world, which is an eye-opening accomplishment in and of itself. As the third phase of the MCU kicks off in May with Captain America: Civil War, president Kevin Feige and the other decision makers at Marvel will look to continue filling the ranks of their world, and we're here to lend a helping hand.
Much like we did with the heroes of Marvel Comics, we've come up with a few casting suggestions for the various bad guys we'd like to see arrive in the MCU over the next few years. Here are 10 Marvel Villain Casting Decisions We'd Love to See.
11 Pedro Pascal as Bullseye
Kicking things off with a bang is the former Red Viper of Dorne himself. Pascal had enjoyed a solid, if understated, career highlighted by guest spots on hit series like The Good Wife and Graceland before landing his breakout role as Prince Oberyn Martell in season 4 of Game of Thrones. After a brief but memorable run in Westeros, the native Chilean has gone on to star in Netflix’s Narcos, one of the media provider’s most watched programs of 2015. Pascal is no stranger to the superhero genre, as he was once set to have a regular role in David E. Kelley’s 2011 Wonder Woman series for NBC. The pilot was (thankfully) scrapped, but we feel we’ve found a comic book character much better suited to his talents.
The masked mercenary known as Bullseye is widely regarded to be Daredevil’s arch-nemesis, so his exclusion from the first season of the hit Netflix series was a bit of a head-scratcher for some. We’ve heard whispers about the master assassin making his way into Hell’s Kitchen in season 2, but it’s been all smoke and no fire thus far. Bullseye will surely turn up to square off against the Man Without Fear at some point though, and Pascal is a perfect fit for the role in our eyes. He’s an underutilized scene stealer through and through, and he could bring a legitimate sense of maniacal malice to Bullseye, something that was severely lacking from Colin Farrell’s hackneyed version of the character in the 2003 Daredevil film.
10 Cate Blanchett as Death
There haven’t been many female villains to speak of thus far in the MCU, though we don’t expect that trend to be continued in Phase 3. Marvel’s physical incarnation of death has been rumored to be on the way ever since Thanos was first teased at the end of the first Avengers film. The Mad Titan’s unrelenting determination to prove his love to Death by exterminating all life in the universe would be a welcome addition to the MCU, as it would add an extra dimension to the big bad of the shared universe, beyond his desire to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet.
Rumors of Blanchett joining the shared universe have circulated for weeks, and while it’s believed that she’ll be taking on a very different role, we’d love to see her portray a character that could (and should) be viewed as the most powerful being in the universe. One of the greatest talents Hollywood has to offer, the two-time Academy Award winner would undoubtedly be an excellent addition to the MCU in any capacity. The true intentions of Thanos haven't yet been fleshed out—he’s basically been a glorified puppeteer so far—so the sudden reveal of a hidden agenda slightly more complex than “I want to hold dominion over everything” would add a new wrinkle to the world we've come to know and love.
9 Ruth Wilson as Enchantress
Unlike the embodiment of the end of life, Enchantress appears to be a good bet to make her debut in Phase 3. With the MCU making a noticeable plunge into the mystical realms of its source material, the inclusion of one of its most powerful sorceresses seems like an inevitability. She’s said to be one of Loki’s favorite characters, and her complex relationships with both him and Thor would only add to the impending chaos in Asgard. At various times in the comics, Enchantress has been an ally, an enemy, and even a love interest to both members of Marvel’s best sibling rivalry, so there’s no shortage of parts she can play in the upcoming Norse Apocalypse.
If Blanchett hasn’t already been tapped to bring Amora the Enchantress to life, Ruth Wilson would be an ideal fit for the role. The 34-year-old is best known for playing Alice Morgan in BBC’s Luther, a series in which she stars opposite Heimdall himself, Idris Elba. Her last role in a Hollywood blockbuster (The Lone Ranger) was a box office bomb of epic proportions, but we’d love to see her take another crack at stardom. The exceptionally written role of Loki was once Tom Hiddleston’s ticket to the A-List; we can see a very similar career arc in the cards for Wilson if she’s afforded a shot at Enchantress.
8 Justin Theroux as Taskmaster
Theroux’s resume is an eclectic mix of standout dramatic work (Mulholland Drive) and oddball comedic performances (Zoolander, Wanderlust). He’s an accomplished screenwriter as well, having penned the scripts to films like Tropic Thunder and the upcoming Zoolander sequel. Theroux’s talent has been on full display in the first two seasons of the critically acclaimed HBO series, The Leftovers, and with the upcoming third season having been confirmed to be the last, the 44-year-old may be looking to lock down his next big role.
Taskmaster’s movie rights have been the subject of a great deal of speculation over the last few years, and while many have assumed those rights to still be in the hands of 20th Century Fox, recent comments made by Deadpool director Tim Miller seem to indicate that the super villain has been returned to the Marvel family. When asked who he’d like to see Deadpool battle onscreen in his next adventure, Miller had this to say:
I’d love to see Deadpool fight Batman - no, I’m just kidding, that’s not even in the Marvel family! I’d love to see Deadpool go up against Taskmaster who’s another Marvel total f****** badass. But if I was to stay inside the Fox family, I would like to see him fight X-23, the female Wolverine. The female clone of Wolverine.
While not exactly a full-on confirmation, it would appear that Taskmaster is no longer an available character in Fox’s X-Men universe. A supervillain with the amazing ability to mimic the fighting abilities of his opponents, Taskmaster has long been a fan-favorite of the Marvel world. He could easily make his way into the MCU in the next few years, and Theroux would be an inspired casting choice, to say the least.
7 Joel Edgerton as Kang the Conqueror
Another character embroiled in rights issues, Kang’s movie rights have actually been confirmed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn to be over at Fox, presumably thanks to the deal that gave the studio the Fantastic Four. Should the rights to Marvel’s First Family revert back to the comic distributor in a few years (a likely scenario, given Fox’s lack of success with the property), Kang will likely go with them. After all, his first appearance was made in the pages of Fantastic Four #19 in 1963, and his alias is Nathaniel Richards—a distant relative of Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards.
According to sources over at CBM, Fox has until 2022 to begin production on another F4 film. But, as things stand now, it seems far more likely that Marvel will reacquire the rights to these characters long before then, allowing them to incorporate them into their shared universe. Little is known of Marvel’s big picture plans beyond the two part Infinity War, but if they’re looking for a suitable big bad to follow up the Mad Titan Thanos, Kang definitely fits the bill. Especially if Marvel wants to dip their toes into the world of time travel.
Should Kang make his way into the MCU in the next few years, Joel Edgerton would be our pick for the role. The 41-year-old is a busy man these days, starring in blockbuster after blockbuster (Zero Dark Thirty, Exodus: Gods and Kings) and sprinkling in some fine dramatic work (The Gift, Jane Got a Gun) along the way. One of the most in-demand actors working today, Edgerton’s name has been tossed into the hat for several comic book characters. And while we’d be on board to see him in just about any of those roles, we can’t help but think that he’d be a perfect fit to play this despotic time traveler.
6 Ian McShane as Surtur
Assuming Surtur will have a role to play in Ragnarok, Ian McShane feels like a natural fit. The 1000 foot tall fire demon will of course be largely a creation of the film’s special effects team, so McShane’s powerful, distinguished voice would likely be his main contribution to the character. The 73-year-old has done his share of voice work (Kung Fu Panda, Coraline), and he has a great deal of experience in fantasy epics thanks to his work in films like Jack the Giant Slayer and Hercules. He even did motion-capture work to play one of the dwarfs in Snow White & the Huntsman. McShane’s role in the upcoming season of Game of Thrones has everyone buzzing, as it seems he may have the honor of bringing one of television’s most beloved heroes back from the dead. A hot name with all the necessary credentials, McShane would be a win across the board for Marvel.
5 Omar Sy as Erik Killmonger
Now that Ryan Coogler is officially on board to direct Black Panther in 2018, he’ll be looking to start rounding out his film’s cast sooner rather than later. Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue will surely factor into the proceedings, but if Coogler is looking to add another antagonist, Erik Killmonger seems like a likely candidate. T’Challa’s longtime nemesis is a highly formidable foe, and he’s often depicted as Black Panther’s physical and intellectual match. The film has been described by Marvel president Kevin Feige as “a big geo-political action adventure that focuses on the family and royal struggle of T’Challa in Wakanda,” so it seems Black Panther will have his share of insurrection on his hands. Killmonger has an extreme hatred for both the Wakandan king and Klaue, which would make for an interesting dynamic on the big screen.
Our pick to play Killmonger is Omar Sy. A serious talent who first broke out with his critically acclaimed performance in the 2011 drama, The Intouchables, Sy made a significant push into mainstream Hollywood this past year with roles in films like Burnt and Jurassic World. The 37-year-old French actor has some comic book experience under his belt already, having portrayed Bishop in the dystopian future setting of X-Men: Days of Future Past. But with every indication being that that timeline has been erased from the series’ continuity, Sy should be free to take on a role in another superhero film. He would make for an excellent addition to the MCU.
If Marvel is reluctant to cast an actor that’s so recently played a different comic book character, Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton) should definitely be considered a contender.
4 Javier Bardem as Kraven the Hunter
The pre-production process for the 2017 Spider-Man film is already well underway, and the one name we keep hearing is that of Kraven the Hunter. Perhaps the best Spidey villain yet to be adapted on the big screen, Sergei Kravinoff is a hyper-popular bad guy with a killer signature story (Kraven’s Last Hunt), elements that when put together make him as primed for adaptation as any character in the Marvel universe.
Gerard Butler and Joe Manganiello are fan-favorite candidates for the role, but we’re going to spring straight to the A-List and keep our fingers crossed that Marvel manages to convince Javier Bardem to take it on. The first Spaniard ever to win an Academy Award, the 46-year-old is as talented as they come and at the height of his powers. Getting him to commit to a role as demanding as this will not be an easy task, but he’s far and away the best fit for Kraven in our eyes. If Bardem were to balk at the opportunity to square off against the web-slinger, Edgar Ramirez (Point Break) could be the next best option.
3 Jesse Plemons as Carnage
Since bursting on the scene back in 2006 on NBC’s Friday Night Lights, Plemons has kept an interesting resume to say the least. He’s featured in everything from Oscar-winning films (The Master) to big-budget action flicks (Battleship), showcasing elite-level talent all along the way. The only thing more shocking than his jaw-dropping turn as “Psycho Todd” in Breaking Bad was the amount of weight he gained for his roles in Black Mass and the second season of Fargo. Plemons is as dedicated as they come, and if his near-casting in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is any indication, he’s primed for a breakout. A turn as a psychopathic supervillain seems right up the 27-year-old’s ally.
If Kraven the Hunter isn’t the principal villain of the upcoming Spider-Man film, Marvel could throw the world a serious curveball by terrorizing young Peter Parker with a true monster of an antagonist: Carnage. The vicious serial killer Cletus Kasady would likely prove to be a bit too brutal for the family-friendly sensitivities of Disney-owned Marvel, but that doesn’t mean we’re not dying to see it. If he makes his way into the MCU at all, it will likely be a few years down the road, after Spider-Man has had a few adventures and grown up a bit—and of course once Venom, the original source of Carnage’s powers, has been introduced. The symbiote-powered mass murderer is one of the web-slinger’s most terrifyingly dangerous foes, albeit one we shouldn’t necessarily hold our breath for.
A Carnage tale would be a great way to help transition Venom down the anti-heroic route he takes in the comics, but again, Kasady simply isn’t a very probable candidate for adaptation because of the very adult-themed story his inclusion would necessitate. As ideal a fit for the role as he may be, Plemons may want to start reading up on other comic book characters if he has any desire to make the jump into the superhero genre. Perhaps a turn as DC’s Red Hood would be a bit more realistic?
2 The Sinister 6
Frankly, this entire list could have been composed of Spider-Man villains; the web-head’s rogues gallery is that good. While the following villains would have a difficult time co-existing, and could therefore be viewed as a less-than-ideal Sinister 6 lineup, they’re nevertheless the six Spidey-centric bad guys we most want to see in the MCU—along with Kraven and Carnage, of course.
Norman Osborn: Matthew McConaughey is the fan-favorite choice to portray Osborn, and quite possibly the actor best suited for the role. Like Bardem, this Oscar-winner would be an excellent get for the MCU, even if his casting is a bit of a longshot. The 46-year-old has been approached by both Marvel and DC in the past, but considering that he remains one of the biggest stars on the planet, a villainous turn in a superhero film might not be in the cards right now. Perhaps Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) could portray Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis?
Venom: Marvel could elect to utilize either the Flash Thompson or the Eddie Brock version of this character, making this a tricky role to cast. If they decide on the latter, The Legend of Tarzan’s Alexander Skarsgard would be an awesome choice. The recently released trailer for Tarzan looks incredibly promising; imagine what the 39-year-old could do with a character like Venom.
Doc Ock: Alfred Molina’s take on Otto Octavius will be difficult to top, but Jeffrey Wright (of Hunger Games fame) could be up to the task. Doc Ock won’t likely appear in a Sinister 6 lineup alongside Norman Osborn—one of the two are usually depicted as the group’s leader—but perhaps their pairing up could make for an even more interesting team dynamic.
Mysterio: Aidan Gillen is our pick to play this dome-helmeted illusionist. Another great Spider-Man villain that hasn’t been seen in a live-action film, Mysterio is a good bet to appear in the MCU at some point. Game of Thrones’ Littlefinger would be an inspired choice.
Black Cat: Another tough role to cast, as Black Cat is usually depicted as being roughly the same age as Peter Parker. A 15-year-old femme fatale would be far too creepy for Marvel's—or hopefully, anyone's— taste, so we’re going to tap 26-year-old Brie Larson for this one. Larson’s career is rocketing into the stratosphere thanks to her (Oscar-nominated) starring role in Lenny Abrahamson’s drama, Room. Marvel would be wise to scoop her up while they can.
Vulture: Rumors of Adrian Toomes’ inclusion in a Spidey film date all the way back to Sam Raimi’s canceled Spider-Man 4, when John Malkovich was considered the top candidate for the role. Should he be included in the MCU, Lance Reddick (John Wick) would be our top pick.
What do you think of our casting decisions? Should Marvel simply wait out the folks over at 20th Century Fox, or should they push to reacquire pivotal characters like the Fantastic Four and Kang the Conqueror? Who's in your ideal Sinister 6 lineup? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.
Captain America: Civil War arrives in theaters on May 6th, 2016; followed by Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.