When fans discuss the imminent future of the MCU, it’s naturally the heroes that dominate the conversation, from the expected rise of the Young Avengers to the incoming exit of the Guardians of the Galaxy. And yet the real reason to be hyped for what’s to come in the franchise is the flood of formidable foes and felons who are about to make themselves known in the Marvel multiverse.
Obviously, we have Kang coming to conquer all, starting with Jonathan Majors’ debut as the man of the Multiverse Saga himself in February’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but the temporal tyrant is just the tip of the iceberg. Phases Five, Six, and beyond are set to include many of the most powerful villains from Marvel Comics lore that we’ve yet to see in the MCU.
So who are these cosmic-level criminals and reality-altering antagonists that could be about to rock the Avengers world on its axis? Here’s your guide to the biggest villains on their way to the MCU, ranked from least powerful to most.
Debut: Captain America: New World Order
In a surprising twist, it’s been confirmed that The Incredible Hulk‘s Tim Blake Nelson will make his grand MCU return after 16 years in New World Order to face Sam Wilson’s Cap. This will see Samuel Sterns finally become the bulbous-headed bad guy he is in the comics, known to combat the Hulk’s brawn with his superior brains. Will he have a similar dynamic with Anthony Mackie’s Sentinel of Liberty?
Debut: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Fans have been waiting to see M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing) in the MCU forever, and he’ll finally be turning up in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania — albeit with a major twist. Corey Stoll will be reprising his role as Darren Cross, formally Ant-Man villain Yellowjacket, who has apparently morphed into M.O.D.O.K. in the Quantum Realm. Speculation is rife that he could be a loyal henchman to Kang.
Speculative debut: Blade
With Marvel’s Blade reboot undergoing a rehaul following some behind-the-scenes troubles, it’s too early to say for sure who the villain will be, but there’s certainly one obvious contender for Mahershala Ali’s first MCU nemesis: the one and only Count Dracula. The vampire lord has been knocking around the Marvel universe since the Tomb of Dracula comics of the 1970s and, as you’d expect, is one of the most powerful supernatural foes in the franchise.
Speculative debut: Captain America: New World Order
In addition to The Leader, New World Order will also introduce a new version of Thaddeus Ross, now played by Harrison Ford following William Hurt’s death. Rumors point to Ross having ascended to the office of President since we saw him last, making him a powerful enemy for Sam. What’s more, it’s highly likely he’ll finally transform into his comics alter ego Red Hulk, either in this film or as part of his expected reappearance in Thunderbolts.
Speculative debut: The Marvels
Zawe Ashton’s The Marvels villain is currently shrouded in secrecy, which has led fans to believe she’ll turn out to be someone significant from the lore. One such theory goes that she could be a gender-swapped version of Korvac. Most known as the eponymous star of comics event ‘The Korvac Saga,’ Korvac — who possesses the Power Cosmic, the same force that fuels Galactus — is a true Avengers-level threat so they would really give Carol Danvers and her crew a run for their money.
Speculative debut: Fantastic Four
When it comes to Victor Von Doom’s MCU arrival, it’s only a question of where and when not if. Fox managed to nerf the iconic comic book villain multiple times over so the pressure is on Marvel to finally deliver an accurate and intimidating incarnation of the character, one who has power on multiple levels. Economically and politically, as the wealthy ruler of Latveria, intellectually, as a genius scientist, and even mystically, as he’s a gifted sorcerer.
The High Evolutionary
Debut: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
The Guardians of the Galaxy’s last enemy might’ve been a living planet, but don’t underestimate the High Evolutionary. Although once a regular, if gifted, human, the High Evolutionary managed to elevate his intelligence to the level of a godlike cosmic entity and through his mastery of genetics set himself up as the deity of his own world and people, able to evolve and de-evolve all manner of beings (including Rocket, in the MCU). He’s even held his own against Galactus for a time.
Fin Fang Foom
Debut: Shang-Chi 2
The Shang-Chi post-credits scene confirmed that the hero’s Ten Rings are broadcasting a signal to something out in deep space. It’s yet to be revealed who or what that something is, but many fans are confident it could be Fin Fang Foom, the most dangerous of Marvel monsters. An alien dragon who led an invasion of ancient China, he reawakens in the modern world to cause untold havoc for the Avengers. Could he be the originator of the Rings?
Kang the Conqueror
Debut: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Naturally, Kang is going to rank high out of the MCU’s upcoming threats considering that he’s the big bad of the entire Multiverse Saga. Whereas Thanos had designs on the entire universe, Kang wishes to rule the entire multiverse. And thanks to his rise in Loki and his all-but-confirmed victory over Scott Lang and co. in Quantumania, he’s very likely to achieve that goal, too. There’s a reason it might take the combined heroes of multiple realities to battle him in Avengers: Secret Wars.
Speculative debut: The Marvels, Fantastic Four, Avengers: Secret Wars
And yet, try as his might, Kang isn’t quite the most fearsome foe coming to the MCU over the next few years. That honor has to go to Galactus, as it’s not for nothing that he’s known as the Devourer of Worlds. As the oldest living being in all reality, Galactus’ consumption of entire planets and civilizations makes him a fundamental force in the universe, acting as a counterbalance to Eternity and Death. There are plenty of places for him to show up in the franchise, but whenever he does, you can bet he won’t be depicted as a mere space cloud with a face.