It seems Marvel boss Kevin Feige can't escape the ghost of forgotten Hulk villain The Leader, even as the Marvel Cinematic Universe approaches its tenth year of existence and next year's Avengers: Infinity War.
As the green sheep of the MCU family, fortune wasn't on the side of Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk when it hit theaters in 2008. Tim Roth's Abomination, Edward Norton as a pre-Mark Ruffalo Hulk, and the movie as a whole just couldn't live up to the hype that Iron Man had enjoyed but a couple months earlier. However, perhaps one of the movie's biggest gripes was the introduction of Dr. Samuel Sterns as the Leader - a character that seems to have been thrown onto the MCU scrapheap alongside Jane Foster.
Speaking to Crave Online, Feige revealed that he is very much aware that the Leader seems like a wasted opportunity to hardcore fans of Marvel's heroes and villains:
"It is an embarrassment of riches of places we could go or characters we could reprise or bring back now that we’re… I think Ragnarok is our seventeenth MCU film. And you would be surprised how many… it’s come up. It’s come up. Just finding the right place. And as I said, if you can’t do it right, don’t do it or do it later, and the notion of “Hey, I’m here too! Next!” is not interesting to us. Abomination is in a prison somewhere too.'"
Gone but not forgotten, Avengers prelude Fury's Big Week revealed that Sterns' run-in with Bruce Banner's blood had left a half-mutated Leader in the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D. thanks to Natasha Romanoff. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show famously saw a mass breakout of prisoners, so there is every likelihood that a green-skinned, giant-headed, version of Sterns is roaming around under his full Leader persona. The options are just too tantalizing to leave there, but with so many big villains from the pages of the comic books, why would we bring back someone as forgettable as Samuel Sterns?
Interestingly though, while Roth has confirmed that he is done with the MCU - leaving Abomination to rot out there somewhere - Tim Blake Nelson hasn't really commented on his brief time as Sterns in one of the world's highest-grossing franchises. So, is Feige playing down Stern's possible appearance in the next two Avengers movies? With rumors that the likes of Red Skull, Crossbones, and Quicksilver are all coming back, now could be the perfect time to (re)introduce the Leader to the MCU.
Taika Waititi did an amazing job with Ruffalo's Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok, leaving the door open for many more Hulk-centric storylines. Fans know that the current rights situation won't allow a Hulk solo movie, but the appearance of Sterns could neatly tie into that promised three-film story arc for the Emerald Giant.
Either way, those MCU bigwigs usually do a fairly decent job of tying up those loose characters in the end - look how long we had to wait for Pepper Potts to come back. Like Feige said, if you can't do it right now, wait for a better time to make it work. With Hulk more popular than ever thanks to Ragnarok, expanding the screen time of Hulkverse characters like General Ross, the Leader, and Betty Ross means we would be ready for the inevitable time that Disney gets those Hulk rights off Universal. Remember, the future's bright, the future's green.
Source: Crave Online
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019