With the Infinity Saga officially over and Thanos good and dusted, there is a gigantic opening left in his wake. The MCU has apparently cast Spider-Man to fill the void left by Iron Man’s demise, but who will fill the space left by Thanos? While audiences have seen hints at many villains, heard rumors of possible antagonists, theorized as to who might come next, there is still no definitive answer as to who will take up the call to action.
With the next phase of Marvel’s enormous universe just starting to take off, there’s been very little information released about who audiences might see as the next big bad. Thankfully, with some recently announced films, some recent purchases, and some research, it’s possible to, at the very least, narrow the list of contenders down by a few.
10 Adam Warlock/ The Magus
Adam Warlock’s arrival has already been teased in the MCU for a few years, audiences haven’t heard much about the powerful, Infinity Gauntlet-wielding warlock since back in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. While fans are expecting Adam to make his arrival by the time that Guardians 3 comes out, there is still a question as to the role he will play in the cinematic universe. In the comics, Adam Warlock is a friend to The Avengers and other heroes all across the multi-verse, however, there is another side to Adam. A much darker side. The question isn’t whether or not his darker half, The Magus, will show up; it’s when.
9 Dr. Doom
Another wildly powerful wizard that’s still yet to make his appearance in the MCU, Dr. Doom is sure to make his grand entrance sometime in the next couple phases of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. There are so many times that Dr. Doom has ascended to the same height or even higher than Thanos had risen that Doom seems like the next logical step.
Disney has finally received the rights to create a film or a series of films surrounding Dr. Doom and the team he enjoys antagonizing the most, The Fantastic Four. Hopefully, Marvel and Disney will have learned from the mistakes of the previous set of Fantastic Four films and do Dr. Doom the service of not tying his introduction to the introduction of Marvel’s first family.
Along with The Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom, and Silver Surfer, Disney Marvel has now got the film rights to the universe’s hungriest purple baby, Galactus. While there is a lot of brush to clear before the MCU is ready for the eater of worlds, or even his herald, it is possible that Galactus could make an appearance in this coming segment of the MCU. Galactus may not be as actively evil as Thanos was, he is certainly a threat that should not be taken lightly. With Galactus’ introduction comes the hope that audiences will be introduced to a version of the Fantastic Four that fans can finally be proud of.
7 The Beyonder
Marvel fans have been pushing for a cinematic version of Secret Wars for a long time. While it is still a possibility somewhere in the future, the event itself demands the presence of its instigator, The Beyonder. With his reality-warping abilities and practical omnipotence, The Beyonder is certainly worth of filling the gigantic boots left behind by angry Grimace.
The MCU has already done its interpretation of Civil War and this event paints a path towards another, more complex war between not only the heroes of the Marvel Universe, but also many of the villains they have already fought against. Living or Dead.
6 The Mandarin
Marvel and Disney have been hinting at the presence of the true Mandarin somewhere in hidden in the MCU since Iron Man 3. Marvel really started laying it on thick when they released the short All Hail The King along with Thor: The Dark World. With the release of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, it seems that fans will finally get a chance to see what kind of power the true Mandarin wields. Whether he’ll be a minor antagonist in the bigger picture, an antagonist that only last the course of a single film as most Marvel antagonists do, or villain that will take a much larger role throughout the next few phases is yet to be seen.
5 Norman Osborn
There has been a very suspicious and very distinct lack of the Osborns, not only in the Spider-Man films that the MCU has produced, but in the MCU as a whole. For a major player like Norman Osborn to have not shown up or even really hinted at is suspicious, to say the least.
Even without going into his mean, green alter ego, Norman is a formidable foe. He’s a genius inventor and scientist. He’s unreasonably wealthy. He’s even fought his way to taking over as the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. Norman Osborn isn’t just Spider-Man’s nemesis, and he’s so much more than just the Green Goblin.
4 The Phoenix Force
While Marvel and X-Men fans have already seen more than enough interpretations of the Dark Phoenix Saga unfold on screen, there’s certainly a chance that now that the X-Men are back home with Marvel, that they’ll finally get one worth remembering. Mutants, for a very long time in the comics, have been left to handle their own problems. However, with the Avengers and the rest of the lineup readily available to help the X-men as they battle one of their own, it could develop into interesting introduction for not only the X-Men, but some of the greater cosmic forces at play in the multi-verse.
3 Kang The Conqueror
Tony Stark may have been able to solve the problem of time travel faster than he could say “I….am….Iron...Man…” something he may not have anticipated is what that discovery would do to the future. Or who it might attract. Enter: Kang The Conquerer.
Kang, the self-titled master of time has been causing trouble for the Avenger as far back as they can remember. And even before that. While the Avengers have defeated Kang time and time again, much like Reverse Flash in the DC Universe, there’s always some version of Kang hopping around the timestream, which unfortunately means that they’ll likely never be rid of him.
There’s really no way around it, Mephisto is a force to be reckoned with. Anything or anybody that can go one on one with the Phoenix force, a literal multi-versal entity and force of life, is someone who deserves to be taken seriously. Not only has Dr. Strange gone up against Mephisto multiple times, but another famous Doctor with a degree in the supernatural and, dare it be said... Doom. Dr. Doom is another natural enemy of Mephisto and introducing him in a context that is not at all associated with the Fantastic Four could bring life to the character in a way that fans just haven’t seen on film.
1 The X-Men
While the Phoenix Force and an MCU version of the Dark Phoenix Saga have already been mentioned, there is a version of introducing the X-Men that leads to a conflict between them and the Avengers while sidestepping the Phoenix Force altogether. As previously mentioned, the X-Men have long had to handle their own problems. Perhaps as their troubles become larger and larger they become much harder for the federal government and therefore the Avengers to ignore. But with Scarlet Witch still in play in the MCU and having recently suffered the trauma of losing Vision along with the rest of the devastation reeked by Thanos, it’s tough to say what could be coming in her character’s development.