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15 Superheroes Only True Fans Realize Are Already In The MCU

There are so many superheroes at large in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise that has expanded like Bruce Banner's waistline since Iron Man first took flight in 2008.

No fewer than 76 of these characters will share the screen in Avengers: Infinity War but, and as the die-hard fans will tell you, many more are at large on the fringes of the action.

Tony Stark, Captain America, and Doctor Strange are impossible to miss when they take centre stage to protect the world from threats both terrestrial and cosmic.

Other superpowered crimefighters, however, are happy to operate in the shadows and their presence often goes undetected by casual fans and mainstream audiences.

Marvel Studios has always included fan-pleasing nods, subtle references, Easter eggs and in-jokes connected to some of its lesser-known heroes. Many of these were thrown in just for fun, while others could end up being significant in future MCU movies.

Since establishing itself as one of Hollywood's heaviest hitters, the comic book giant has expanded the boundaries of its cinematic universe with companion TV shows, both on the airwaves and on Netflix, and these have also alluded to unsung comic book heroes who are hidden in plain sight.

So, here are the 15 Superheroes Only True Fans Realize Are Already In The MCU.

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15 The Original Human Torch

Since Marvel is on the verge of completing a Fox takeover deal, there's a good chance we'll see the Fantastic Four's Human Torch yelling "flame on" in a future MCU movie, but Johnny Storm might have to pick another alias.

Sorry, Johnny, but the Human Torch moniker appears to already be taken in this universe.

Long before Marvel Comics was locked in a battle with DC for market dominance, it went by the name of Timely Comics and had just once superhero on its books: a fire-controlling Android known as the Human Torch.

In Captain America: The First Avenger's Stark Expo scene, the distinctive red costume worn by the original Human Torch can be seen on display in a glass case.

Although the Golden Age crimefighter has never appeared in the MCU in person, if his suit exists, then surely he was at large at some point.

14 Jocasta

Jocasta in Age of Ultron

Robotic baddie Ultron almost had a love interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, if this Easter egg is anything to go by.

During the Avengers: Age of Ultron scene where Tony Stark is seen rifling through AI chips in search of a replacement for JARVIS, he discards one labelled "Jocasta."

This name will mean little to casual moviegoers, but the Marvel die-hards will recognize it as a reference to the antagonist's bride.

Jocasta first appeared in 1997's The Avengers #162, created by Ultron to be his partner in crime. She's briefly loyal to her husband of sorts but later turns on him and joins up with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, so Joss Whedon could have found a number of uses for her.

She's still around in the Marvel Universe and various different versions of her have cropped up in recent years.

13 Namor

Marvel Studios laid the groundwork for Black Panther's roaring success way back in 2010 via a subtle Iron Man 2 Easter egg.

During the scene where Tony Stark is being debriefed about the Avengers initiative at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, a digital map with the location of Wakanda clearly pinpointed can be seen in the background.

As eagle-eyed fans will tell you, there may be more to that map than meets the eye.

The whereabouts of Thor's hammer and frozen Captain America are highlighted, but there's another marker placed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that remains shrouded in mystery.

This is almost certainly a nod to the aquatic hero Namor the Submariner.

The sea-dwelling mutant is yet to appear in the MCU, but don't rule out him making a splash in a future film as Marvel appears to have reclaimed the screen rights to him from Universal.

12 Amadeus Cho

Amadeus Cho The Incredible Hulk

Admittedly, this one is slightly contentious, as the character's identity was only confirmed in a semi-canon novel, but Marvel superfans were nevertheless delighted to hear Amadeus Cho's name mentioned in the context of the MCU.

Remember that scene in The Incredible Hulk where Bruce Banner give his pizza to the computer nerd? Well, the movie's official novel names this guy as "Amadeus Cho."

Whether this is the same character who became the Totally Awesome Hulk in the comics is debatable, though there is evidence to suggest the Amadeus Cho exists in the MCU.

His mother, Helen, is a supporting character in Avengers: Age of Ultron, for one.

If the Totally Awesome Hulk eventually finds his way to the franchise, he's unlikely to be played by Martin Starr (who portrayed the computer nerd) as the actor has since appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming as Mr. Harrington.

11 Cosmo The Space Dog

Guardians of the Galaxy didn't feature a dog dressed up as a Soviet cosmonaut because James Gunn is quirky.

This pooch, who can be glimpsed in the Collector's museum, is actually a big deal in the world of comic books.

Cosmo the Space Dog is a long-time ally of Nova (who is rumoured to be making his MCU debut in the near future) and was once an official member of the Guardians.

His special abilities, as you might have guessed, are far more impressive than fetching sticks and rolling over.

The labrador-golden-retriever hybrid gained the powers of telepathy and telekinesis after being exposed to cosmic rays when the Russians blasted him into space for an experiment.

He is also fluent in Russian and able to hold a conversation in English, which is more than can be said of Groot.

10 Kid Colt

Kid Colt Marvel Comics

The MCU has already given us a peek at its World War II-era past as well as other time periods in flashback sequences.

Its roots, however, stretch back much further than this as Marvel heroes were at large in the Old West. Kid Colt, who made his debut in the 1940s, is the longest-running cowboy star in American comic book history, and he once slung guns in the cinematic universe.

This was confirmed in the Agent Carter episode "Better Angels" in which Howard Stark attempts to make a movie about Kid Colt under his Stark Pictures company.

It's a comic book adaptation, but Tony's dad later informs Peggy Carter that the source material was inspired by a real cowboy.

So, there you have it. Kid Colt once existed in the MCU, but whether we'll ever see his time period explored in a movie or TV show remains to be seen.

9 The Living Tribunal

Mordo with the Staff of Living Tribunal

There are likely numerous god-like beings watching over the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the heavens, and one of them appears to be the Living Tribunal.

The cosmic deity is one of the few characters capable of dealing out a beatdown to Thanos while the Mad Titan is packing a fully-stocked Infinity Gauntlet.

He exists across every dimension of the Marvel multiverse simultaneously and his presence in the MCU was hinted at in Doctor Strange when Chiwetel Ejiofor's Mordo brandished the Staff of the Living Tribunal.

If a weapon imbued with his power exists in this universe, then surely he too is out there somewhere.

There's even a possibility that this staff will come into play in one of the next Avengers movies to boost the war effort against Thanos. Either that, or it will be used against the MCU's next big bad, after the Mad Titan has been dealt with.

8 Manifold

Gateway and Manifold

In the world of Marvel Comics, Eden Fesi -- better known as Manifold -- is a mutant superhero of Aboriginal descent and a member of the Secret Warriors.

He's not what you'd call a household name, though he has featured in major story arcs, such as Secret Wars.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. threw in a fan-pleasing reference to Manifold in the Season 3 episode "The Inside Man", in which the Australian government took a teleporting Inhuman into custody to perform experiments on him.

That Inhuman was, of course, Eden Fesi and the remainder of the episode saw Phil Coulson and his team stage a rescue mission to bust him out of containment.

The showrunners also included a subtle Easter egg for the die-hards, with Manifold's test subject number listed as SW4-7-2009, a reference to his comic book debut in Secret Warriors #4, which came out in July 2009.

7 Man-Thing

Thor Ragnarok Man Thing Beta Ray Bill

Man-Thing is often mistaken for DC Comics' Swamp Thing, but aside from being monstrous in appearance, dwelling in swamps and having the word "Thing" in their names, they have little else in common.

Swamp Thing hasn't appeared in a movie since the late 1980s, but his Marvel counterpart could well be dwelling in a stretch of water somewhere in the MCU.

There are stacks of evidence to support the theory that Ted Sallis is out there somewhere.

First of all, the Iron Man 3 character Ellen Brandt is Man-Thing's wife in the comic books, and her scarred appearance in the movie is believed to be the result of her husband's acidic touch.

Meanwhile, Maria Hill directly name-drops Sallis when discussing surveillance targets in a season 1 episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

However, the most compelling reason to believe that Man-Thing is at large in the MCU is the fact his face has been sculpted into the Grandmaster’s palace in Thor: Ragnarok.

6 Union Jack

Union Jack Marvel Comics

Union Jack is what you get if you cross Batman with Captain America and a whole lot of British DNA. The original incarnation of the character was named James Montgomery Falsworth and he made his comic book debut in 1976's The Invaders #7.

A character who goes by the same name was a member of the Howling Commandos in Captain America: The First Avenger. 

Although it is never officially confirmed, this is likely to be the same person who goes on to don the red, white, and blue of Union Jack.

The MCU's Falsworth survives the events of the movie but is never heard from again after Cap emerges from the ice in present day.

Between World War II and Steve Rogers thawing out, there's a chance he was fighting crime as Britain's answer to the American Super Soldier.

5 Miles Morales

Spider-Man: Homecoming confirmed that there could one day be more than one version of Spidey swinging around in the MCU.

There's a nuanced reference to another character who develops arachnid-like powers in the comics during the scene where Peter Parker has a run-in with Donald Glover's Aaron Davis.

In Marvel lore, Davis is the uncle of Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino youngster who developers spider abilities and follows in Parker's footsteps.

While Spidey is interrogating him on screen, he makes a reference to his nephew and how he wants to protect him.

This was a sneaky shout-out to Miles that only the die-hard fans picked up on the first time around, but in one of Homecoming's deleted scenes, the hat-tip is more on-the-nose, since Glover's character speaks to his nephew on the phone and refers to him as "Miles."

4 Silk

If Marvel Studios is hoping to expand its web of Spider-Man movies to include spinoffs in the future, Homecoming has given it plenty of scope to do that.

As well as establishing Peter Parker as the MCU's chief wall-crawler, the movie name-dropped Miles Morales and also introduced Cindy Moon, a character who was bitten by the same radioactive bug as Peter in the comics.

Cindy is the Midtown student who begs Peter to attend the decathlon in DC in Homecoming, and is later seen trapped in the Washington Monument elevator after the Chitauri Energy Core explodes.

Tiffany Espensen plays the character and is due to reprise the role for what is likely to be a cameo in Avengers: Infinity War.

In the comics, however, she becomes the arachnid crimefighter Silk as a result of the spider bite, and that's a story which could well serve as the basis for a future MCU film.

3 Doc Samson

Doc Samson MCU Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk landed with sequel ambitions in 2008, but since it went on to become the closest thing Marvel Studios has ever had to a commercial flop.

Ed Norton was replaced in the lead role by Mark Ruffalo, so many of its setups were brushed under the rug.

The Leader's transformation and descent into villainy was teased, but never built on, and it's a similar story concerning Doc Samson.

In the comics, he's a superhuman with strength to rival the Hulk's, and long green hair, though in the film, he was never given the chance to develop his powers.

The two Doc Samsons have one thing in common: they're both psychiatrists.

In the movie, he serves as a shoulder to cry on for Betty Ross while Bruce Banner is in exile, and a fierce rivalry between the pair could have developed if the sequel plans had gone ahead.

2 The Original Guardians Of The Galaxy

Sylvester Stallone leads a rag-tag group of cosmic misfits in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and although they are merely referred to as Ravagers and old friends of Yondu, those who know their Marvel lore instantly recognised them as the original version of the Guardians.

Sly's character Stakar Ogord and Michelle Yeoh's Aleta are their best-known members, and in the comics, these two are merged into a powerful cosmic entity by the power of the Hawk God, and become known collectively as Starhawk.

Director James Gunn is due to return for a third Guardians movie in 2020, and with any luck, we'll see more of these two then.

Gunn has also hinted at plans to launch a series of cosmic-themed MCU spinoff movies, which could mean further adventures for Starhawk and the original Guardians.

1 Johnny Blaze

Ghost Rider Shield Johnny Blaze

Several Ghostriders have hit the road in the Marvel Universe over the years, though by far the most famous is Johnny Blaze, no thanks to those two Nicolas Cage-fronted movies.

The MCU got its own version of the Spirit of Vengeance when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lifted the Robbie Reyes incarnation of the character from the comic books in Season 4.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of Reyes's TV debut was his revelation that he inherited his devilish powers from his predecessor, Johnny Blaze, which seems to confirm that he's out there somewhere, biking his way around the MCU.

Perhaps the television show opted to include Reyes because there are big plans to bring Blaze to the big screen in a future MCU Phase.

That would be great and everything, but he would need to reclaim his supernatural powers first.

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Are there any other heroes that you know are hidden in the MCU? Sound off in the comments!

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