The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a constant state of evolution and expansion, but that doesn’t mean Kevin Feige won’t reach deep into the back catalogue for inspiration. The franchise has a massive 25 film and television projects in various stages of development, and while many of them are casting brand new faces, there are also more than a few relying on some familiar names from the earliest days of Phase One.
The vast majority of the original Avengers are being cycled out in favor of fresh blood with Yelena Belova’s Black Widow, Kate Bishop’s Hawkeye, Jennifer Walters’ She-Hulk, Riri Williams’ Ironheart and Sam Wilson’s Captain America all on the horizon, but Thor: Love and Thunder will keep the old guard more than well represented.
Tim Roth’s Abomination will also return in She-Hulk, Nick Fury finally takes top billing in Secret Invasion, and Colonel James Rhodes will step out of Tony Stark’s shadow when Don Cheadle suits up for Armor Wars, as several stalwarts return for new outings. Plot details are thin on the ground for the latter, but if it follows the comic book arc of the same name, then War Machine will be forced into action when Stark Industries tech falls into nefarious hands.
Of course, the concept of Armor Wars perfectly lends itself to the reintroduction of Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer, who was last seen in prison during the All Hail the King One-Shot that retconned Iron Man 3‘s divisive Mandarin twist, and insider Daniel Richtman now claims that he’s in talks to return to the MCU. Whether he’s still in jail, he’s already been freed or Rhodey has to break him out, there are plenty of opportunities to bring Hammer back that would make total narrative sense in terms of both the story and his relationship to the lead character, and Rockwell is a more than welcome presence in just about anything.