Not much is known about the future “phases” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but all eyes are already fixed on the conclusion to what has been dubbed The Multiverse Saga. While Phase 4 was hit or miss for a lot of fans, the promise of a new crop of heroes (and villains) is enough to keep hype going for Phase 5 and 6. Jaws around the world dropped when Marvel president Kevin Feige announced the two Avengers films that would wrap up this new saga. “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty” and “Avengers: Secret Wars” are both slated to release in 2025. Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conquerer will obviously serve as the big bad behind “The Kang Dynasty,” but “Secret Wars” is less certain.
Whether it’s based on the 1984 comic of the same name or its 2015 remake, “Secret Wars” will undoubtedly be an event of epic, “Endgame”-level proportions. The first comic storyline brought its heroes and villains together to duke it out on one level playing field called Battleworld. The second dealt heavily with incursions — basically, the idea of two universes crashing into one another — and effectively hit the reset button on the Marvel universe.
There’s also a chance that Marvel will adapt “Secret Wars” in the image of a different comic storyline — something like Doomwar, which already has a precedent after the events of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Either way, there are a few characters that the MCU will need in order to give “Secret Wars” its due, so let’s blindly speculate about the heroes that could make an appearance in the film … and the actors that could play them.
Steven Yeun is a name that’s consistently on the wishlist for Marvel fans. He’s no stranger to playing heroes: whether he’s Glenn Rhee in “The Walking Dead,” or lending his voice to the titular hero in “Invincible,” Yeun has a charm that’s very hard to root against. But he’s equally enthralling as an antagonist, the more off-kilter, the better — and that’s made him a top choice for some of Marvel’s most interesting villains.
Spider-Man super-baddie Mr. Negative has been a consistent suggestion for Yeun, but with Marvel gearing up for “Secret Wars,” it’d be amazing to see what he could bring to a character like Owen Reece, AKA Molecule Man. Reece is one of the most powerful beings in the multiverse: as his moniker suggests, he can manipulate energy, matter and reality by harnessing the molecules of any living thing. Reece is also able to manifest a version of himself in every known universe, making him an entity on par with Kang and his variants — and an integral part of “Secret Wars” in any iteration. Of course, it doesn’t have to be Molecule Man, but it’d be amazing to see Yeun sink his teeth into such a layered role.
It feels like the world is finally waking up to the irrepressible talent in Nicole Beharie. The actor has been a magnetic and wholly underrated presence ever since her breakout in the Fox series “Sleepy Hollow.” Since then, she’s been quietly delivering knockout performances in indie dramas and limited series, picking up a vocal fanbase along the way. There’s power in even her briefest appearances: a breathtaking, 45-second scene from her performance in “Black Mirror” frequently goes viral on Twitter, but it’s just one of the moments that’s made her one of the most beloved actresses on the internet.
With so many scene-stealing performances to her name, it’s kind of surprising that Beharie hasn’t landed on Marvel’s radar yet. But that could all change with “Secret Wars” — or, more accurately, with the forthcoming “Fantastic Four” film. Beharie’s grace and gravitas makes her the perfect fit for the Invisible Woman, Sue Storm. (And she doesn’t look half bad as a blonde, either.) Whether she debuts in Matt Shankman’s new film or appears as one of Sue’s variants in “Secret Wars” — heck, or even as a different hero entirely — she’d be an incredible addition to the MCU.
Few rising actors are more vocal about their love for the MCU than “Nope” breakout Brandon Perea. His turn as Angel Torres — a bottle-blonde tech geek with an eye for the extraterrestrial — felt like an informal audition for the MCU proper. And to hear Perea tell it, Marvel is definitely a major goal down the line. Perea has been outspoken about his desire to star in a Marvel film, demonstrating his skills in martial arts and gymnastics on social media. The actor has been “training his whole life” for something like the MCU. “With ‘Nope,’ I hope I delivered a performance where I can prove that I can do something great in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” Perea told GQ.
As for who he’d like to play within that universe, Perea is game for anything. The actor has his sights on Nova, a character that’s long been teased in the MCU. As far as fan casting goes, he’s a top pick for hotheads like the Human Torch and Sunspot, known acrobats like Nightcrawler, or even a Spider-Man variant. As long as his impressive range of skills is fully utilized, Marvel can’t really go wrong with Perea. He’s versatile, he’s passionate, and he’s just getting started.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” was a massive surprise for so many reasons, not in the least for the incredible talent that the series introduced to the world. New Zealand actor Alex Tarrant was just one part of a massive ensemble, but he still established himself as a name to watch moving forward. He may have his hands full with the second season of “Rings of Power” and “NCIS: Hawai’i,” but there’s always room for another hero in the MCU, and Tarrant would be perfectly suited for one in particular.
“Secret Wars” — and the arc that precludes it — would be incomplete without Eden Fesi, AKA Manifold. The Aboriginal Australian hero is an incredibly powerful mutant, gifted with the ability to communicate with the universe and teleport through space at will. There’s a version of Manifold in every universe that exists, which makes him a no-brainer for the multiversal war to come. While the character is still relatively new to Marvel, he’s made a major impression in a short amount of time. He’s a key member of superhero groups like the Avengers and S.W.O.R.D., an invaluable ally to Wakanda, and a favorite for fans who are hunkering for more diversity in the Marvel universe. Even if the MCU isn’t quite ready to introduce Manifold yet, indigenous heroes are still rare in the MCU. Tarrant — an actor of Māori, Samoan, and Niuean descent — could help change that trend for the better.
A handful of heroes are way overdue for their MCU debut, and Miles Morales is certainly one of them. The character has been teased in several MCU projects — most recently “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — and given his role in the 2015 version of “Secret Wars,” Marvel would be crazy not to bring him into the fold already.
There’s been a lot of chatter about who should slip into the spandex for this role: a young actor would be sensible, and a Black actor with Latine heritage feels like a must at this point as well. “Black-ish” actor Miles Brown checks those two boxes perfectly. And like many young actors of his ilk, he’s made it known that he’d love to portray Miles Morales in the MCU. If Marvel is at all concerned with casting the character accurately, Brown would be a pretty great fit.
It wouldn’t be “Secret Wars” without the participation of the X-Men — and, as most know, it’s hard to have the X-Men without it’s most famous character, Wolverine. This particular role is guarded more fiercely than any in the MCU — He can’t be too tall! He can’t be too handsome! — which makes a major ordeal out of casting Wolverine anew. The character has become tied to Hugh Jackman’s image, so the MCU will have to find a way to set their version of the character apart. Fans have suggested casting an indigenous Canadian as the new Wolverine — and honestly, that’s kind of an inspired choice.
“Reservation Dogs” actor D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai could be just the talent the MCU needs to inject new life into Wolverine. Of course, he’s still fairly young, but given how important Wolverine will be to the MCU in the phases to come, is that necessarily a bad thing? Even if Marvel is looking to go in a different direction (bring Dafne Keen back, please), it’d still be fun to see a few Wolverine variants running around in “Secret Wars.” Woon-A-Tai could provide a radically different take on the character that so many think they know — that is, if he’s not already booked and busy.
Whatever version of “Secret Wars” Marvel Studios will be taking inspiration from, Doctor Doom’s inclusion is mandatory. Despite persisting rumors, Doom has yet to pop up in the MCU — but with the “Fantastic Four” film on the horizon, he can’t be too far. At the very latest, Doom could appear towards the end of Phase 6, so Marvel’s gotta get cracking on that casting soon.
Casting an actor that could honor Doom’s Romani heritage would obviously be preferable, but given Marvel’s track record with other characters of Romani descent, it’s hard to see that happening. That said, “Secret Wars” could certainly do worse than Javier Bardem. He’s proven his chops as a villain again and again, creating memorable performances in films like “No Country For Old Men” and “Skyfall.” The MCU needs someone who can ground the character in reality — but given Doom’s penchant for theatrics, they also need an actor that can chew scenery with the best of them. Bardem is all that and more, and there’s no denying he could really lend something new to such a well-known villain.
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Author: Lyvie Scott
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November 25, 2022