Following this year’s Comic-Con and Disney’s D23 Expo, the full slate for the MCU’s Phase 4 has been announced. There have been plenty of delightful surprises, like the casting of Kit Harington as the Black Knight or the Disney+ series confirmed for Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight.
In addition to all the new characters being added to the franchise, some that we thought had been forgotten by Marvel Studios have been confirmed to be returning... in some form or another. From a female Thor to resurrected dead characters, you just can't (usually) keep a comic book character down, can you?
10 Jane Foster
MCU fans became so bored with Jane Foster’s one-dimensional characterization and bland romance with Thor that no-one batted an eye when she was nowhere to be seen in Thor: Ragnarok and the couple’s off-screen breakup was mentioned. The least interested of all was Natalie Portman, who had grown sick of being given no interesting dialogue, if she was given any dialogue at all.
It’s not Portman’s fault that Jane was so uninteresting; the writers failed her. Now, after reinvigorating the Thor character with a dose of comedy in Ragnarok, Taika Waititi is looking to do the same for Jane Foster as she takes on the mantle of Thor in 2021’s Thor: Love and Thunder.
In one of the final scenes in Avengers: Infinity War, Vision died twice. First, Scarlet Witch removed the Mind Stone from his head and destroyed it to stop Thanos from getting it. Then, Thanos used the Time Stone to reverse time and ripped the Mind Stone out of Vision’s head himself. Vision wasn’t anywhere to be seen in Avengers: Endgame, even with all the time travel and new timelines being created, and for all intents and purposes, he’d be forever dead.
Still, he’ll be co-starring in a series with Wanda Maximoff called WandaVision on Disney+. One fan theory is that Wanda will use her magical mutant powers to manipulate reality and bring him back to life, albeit creating “the Multiverse of Madness” in the process.
8 Sharon Carter
As great as Emily VanCamp was in the second and third Captain America movies, it became awkward when her character Sharon Carter – the niece of Peggy Carter – drummed up a romance with Steve Rogers. It’s especially creepy now that Steve has gone back in time and married Peggy.
Still, none of that can be blamed on VanCamp. Marvel is giving her a second chance in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, in which she’ll have a supporting role.
7 Agent Woo
Randall Park was hilarious in Ant-Man and the Wasp as Agent Jimmy Woo, the FBI man-in-black assigned to keep an eye on Scott Lang while he was under house arrest. Woo’s interactions with Scott about close-up magic and whether or not a dinner invitation had been extended were hysterical, and one of the highlights of the movie.
However, since it was such a small part, no-one was expecting him to take on a larger role in the MCU’s future. Lo and behold, in Disney+’s WandaVision, he’ll be back in an unspecified capacity, possibly as the FBI agent assigned to watch over Scarlet Witch.
Loki seemingly completed his character arc in Avengers: Infinity War. After years of villainy or heroism as a cover for villainy, he finally did something undeniably heroic. He came after Thanos with a blade to save his brother. He ended up getting killed in the process, but he’d finally learned to be good after discovering that Thor thought the world of him.
However, in Avengers: Endgame, after he evaded capture and stole the Space Stone, he created a new timeline in 2012 where anything can happen – and we’ll see what does happen in a Disney+ series in 2021. This will be an interesting turn for the MCU. The show will essentially present a hypothetical character arc for Loki, starting from scratch with entirely different events.
5 The Mandarin
In the comics, the Mandarin is Iron Man’s arch nemesis. Jon Favreau wanted to introduce him in the first movie, but decided against it, comparing him to Emperor Palpatine – slowly build to a big reveal in the third movie. However, after helming the first two Iron Man movies, Favreau handed the reins over to Shane Black, who featured the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, but totally botched it.
The Mandarin we came to fear and anticipate across months of posters and trailers turned out to be a soccer hooligan. Marvel is looking to rectify that with the real Mandarin, due to show up in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
4 Helmut Zemo
Baron Zemo is an exceptional MCU villain for two reasons: 1) his plan was a success, as he managed to tear the Avengers apart almost irreparably, and 2) he did it without any superpowers or special gadgets. He was left alive at the end of Captain America: Civil War, since Black Panther saved him from killing himself and told him, “the living are not done with you yet.”
However, it did seem like the MCU was done with him. As it turns out, that’s not true. He’ll be back next year in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to terrorize Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes.
3 Monica Rambeau
Earlier this year, Captain Marvel introduced us to a young Monica Rambeau, played by Akira Akbar, Carol Danvers’ best friend’s daughter who idolized her. There was every chance that this was setting her up for a future as a superhero, since the character has taken on various superhero alter egos in the comics.
The MCU has so many characters and it has so many forgotten teases like this that it didn’t seem likely that Monica had a future in the franchise. Thankfully, that’s not the case and she’ll be appearing as an adult in WandaVision, played by Teyonah Parris.
2 Darcy Lewis
Kat Dennings played Darcy Lewis as the comic relief in the first two Thor movies. After those two, she disappeared. As Jane Foster’s best friend, since there was no more Jane, there was no more need for Darcy. It’s a shame, because the third Thor movie was the one that turned the franchise into 100% comic relief. She would’ve fitted right in.
With Jane returning to the MCU in Thor: Love and Thunder, Darcy will also be reappearing, but not alongside her. She’ll instead be showing up in Disney+’s WandaVision, which is being described as 50% comic book spectacle and 50% sitcom.
1 Black Widow
This one is only true for passive moviegoers who hadn’t been keeping up to date with Marvel’s announcements. Anyone in the know was aware that Black Widow was getting a solo movie in 2020 months ago. For those fans, the surprise was when the character was killed off in Avengers: Endgame – and it was definitely, definitively permanent, too, because it was a sacrifice on Vormir to secure the Soul Stone for Earth’s mightiest heroes.
For the most casual fans, the surprise is her return. Her first standalone outing will kick off Phase 4 next year, and of course, it’ll be a prequel – but maybe not an origin story.