Tim Roth’s Abomination isn’t the only character from The Incredible Hulk to return to the MCU. At D23 we learned that Tim Blake Nelson will reprise the role of Samuel Sterns/Leader in the upcoming Captain America: New World Order.
While it’s great to see Marvel finally follow up on that loose end, it’s a bit surprising that The Leader is positioned as a villain of Captain America instead of headlining a new Hulk movie. But it turns out that’s the goal. The Leader is the last type of enemy Sam Wilson expects to face, and that’s precisely what makes him so dangerous. Let’s take a quick look at the Leader’s background and why he might make sense as Captain America’s next big villain.
The Leader: Who is Tim Blake Nelson’s character?
The Leader is without a doubt the main archenemy of the Hulk. While most of the Hulk villains try to prove that they are stronger than the Jade Giant, Samuel Sterns is the complete opposite of Bruce Banner. Exposing him to gamma radiation increased his intelligence exponentially. He is as smart as the Hulk is strong.which makes him one of the most dangerous villains in the entire Marvel Universe.
The 2008 movie “The Incredible Hulk” established Leader as a future MCU villain. Tim Blake Nelson plays a pretransformed Samuel Sterns in the film. This version of Sterns is actually an ally of Banner’s: a cell biologist who helps the fugitive Banner find a cure for his disease. But Sterns doesn’t entirely share Banner’s desire to eliminate the Hulk. He synthesizes Banner’s blood, believing that he holds the key to eliminating the disease and unlocking humanity’s full potential. Finally, General Ross convinces Sterns to help complete Emil Blonsky’s transformation into the Abomination.
The film ends with Sterns stuck in a narrative limbo. After exposing a cut on his forehead to Banner’s irradiated blood, Sterns head begins to swell already change.
The return of Leader in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The Incredible Hulk undoubtedly laid the groundwork for a sequel with the hint that Sterns would transform into The Leader. Nevertheless, Marvel Studios Has Avoided Another Hulk Solo Movie, largely because Universal Pictures has part of the rights to the film. That’s why the Hulk’s story has played out in the Avengers movies and Thor: Ragnarok, and probably why Nelson has yet to reprise his role as The Leader.
Rumor has it that Marvel is going to regain full control of the rights to the Hulk in 2023 (based on some clever Reddit research), and even it seems that they are anticipating what the next character will be through a subplot in She-Hulk: Lawyer She-Hulk. Episode 3 shows Banner leaving Earth aboard a Sakaaran ship, apparently returning to that world to settle some unfinished business from his gladiatorial days. Thor: Ragnarok has already adapted some elements of the Planet Hulk storyline from the comics, but the MCU could tackle a full Planet Hulk movie or series in the near future.
As for The Leader, there are indications that it could appear in She-Hulk before going on to be the main villain in Captain America: New World Order. Episode 3 also introduces the Wrecking Crew, four construction workers with stolen Asgardian tools. These villains attempt (unsuccessfully) to steal a blood sample from Jen Walters for her mysterious benefactor. Given his interest in gamma science in general and Hulk blood in particular, The Leader is the obvious candidate to be the villain who pulls the strings for the Wrecking Crew. And if that’s the case, he hopes this series will forge a direct tie-in to the next Captain America movie.
Why The Leader is the villain of Captain America 4
Why does The Leader appear in a sequel to Captain America? As we’ve already established, now is not the ideal time to explore the iconic rivalry between Hulk and Leader in the MCU. Bruce Banner is out of the world for the foreseeable future. And as far as we know, The Leader he has no particular reason to hold a grudge against Banner. Assuming he resents becoming a super-genius with an oversized head in the first place, he has all the more reason to hate Ross and Blonsky.
That may play into the role of The Leader in the New World Order. Perhaps being betrayed by one of America’s most decorated military officers has Sterns itching for revenge. Ross himself will likely not appear in the film, given that actor William Hurt has recently passed away, but The Leader could be seeking to destroy Ross’s reputation and discredit America. on the world stage. And that means he might also have his sights set on the new Captain America.
Whatever his motivations, director Julius Onah makes it clear that The Leader is so dangerous precisely because not a villain that sam wilson sees coming.
“Actions have consequences, and that’s the beauty of what the MCU has been able to build.“Onah told IGN at D23.”In this universe, in this world, things that people do come back in surprising and unexpected ways, and Tim Blake Nelson coming back as The Leader is such an exciting thing to explore because his story is now going to challenge Sam Wilson, our new Captain America, in a way you never expected. So it’s very, very exciting. And I think a lot of the things that were established years ago will allow the MCU to go in new directions that audiences are going to be very, very excited about.“
Onah also revealed that this crisis will be the first big test of Sam’s leadership ability. He’ll have to rally the Avengers (or whatever passes for the Avengers these days) against a very different kind of threat.
“We have seen what it means for someone like him to take the shield“, Onah said.”But it’s also a very different MCU. It’s a post-explosion MCU. It’s a post-Thanos MCU. So the world has also changed a lot. And the role of a hero has changed. What does that mean? The decisions that he is going to have to make, and the situations that he is going to face, are radically different from those that Steve Rogers had to face. And as a result of that, because now he’s a leader of this team, he has to make decisions that are going to have massive implications. So the world has changed around him and he’s a changed man, and I think that makes for a really exciting narrative..”
Sam Wilson has faced some of the strongest villains in the MCU and has lived to tell the tale. But he has never faced someone as smart as The Leader. Will he be up to the challenge? We’d like to say yes, but it’s telling that Captain America 4 don’t set the stage for the next avengers movie, but for the Thunderbolts. It is possible that The Leader will help destroy the symbol of Captain America and usher in a new, darker age of the MCU.
What role do you think The Leader will play in Captain America: New World Order?
For more on the MCU, we have recently learned that Daredevil: Born Again will not be a continuation of the Netflix series.