Captain America 4 Director Teases The Leader’s ‘Terrifying’ Villain Role

By Benny Stein Updated:
Captain America 4 The Leader villain

While not too much is known about the upcoming Captain America: New World Order, there's still quite a bit to be excited about. For one thing, the film will feature the return of Sam Wilson's Captain America, appearing for the first time on the silver screen. 

The movie will also see the return of a few other known MCU characters, most notably, Tim Blake Nelson's Samuel Sterns, now, the Leader.

Much like Tim Roth's Abomination, who appeared in slightly different form in Disney+'s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Nelson's return marks the continuation of a story arc that started 14 years ago. 

Tim Blake Nelson
Tim Blake Nelson in The Incredible Hulk

Nearing the end of The Incredible Hulk, Sam Sterns received a minor infusion of gamma blood to the 'ol noggin, kickstarting his transformation into the Leader.

While it's unclear what exactly the Leader will have in store for Captain America in the coming film, recent comments confirm that his character will be quite the match for Sam Wilson.

The Leader's Role In Captain America 4

Talking with Phase Zero at the D23 Expo, Captain America: New World Order director Julius Onah spoke about the role of Tim Blake Nelson's the Leader in the upcoming film, calling his character "terrifyingly intelligent."

"Let's just say, one of the things that really drew me to this project is the Leader is a man who operates from intellect. And it's so great to have an adversary who is working with this incredible intellect to really put Sam through the wringer in this story. And, again, it's a paranoid thriller, it's this grounded adventure where I think everything that happens in this film feels so real and intense because of who this adversary is. So, back to that other question of yours, what he's going to have to go through in this film is because he's got an adversary who is so terrifyingly intelligent."

Onah, speaking with StageRightSecrets, also talked more generally about the film, calling it "a new direction" with "a brilliant cast and company of actors."

"It’s just so exciting to be able to take this story in a new direction. And you know Danny Ramirez, and Carl Lumbly and Tim Blake Nelson, we’ve got a brilliant cast and company of actors so it’s going to be a really, really wild ride and exciting movie."

Captain America's Showdown with The Leader

Onah's breakdown of the Leader's role in the film teases an extremely intellectual showdown, exactly what fans would hope for from the almost literal egghead.

The director's comments also help point toward the kind of antagonist the Leader will play. It seems that his schemes will be more grounded, creating a twisted world of paranoia for Sam to contend with instead of facing him with overly ridiculous and contrived machinations.

Earlier interviews with producers hinted at Sam Wilson playing the underdog in Captain America 4, so the Leader's "terrifyingly intelligent" role makes a good deal of sense in this context, setting the stage for a complex and unique conflict.

Onah also hints at a "new direction," indicating that the film may occupy a different register than those that came before. While the "paranoid thriller" angle sounds reminiscent of earlier Captain America films, especially The Winter Soldier, the sinister antagonist seems to indicate that this sort of paranoia will emanate more from a singular plan than the messier efforts of a larger shadow organization.

The Leader's presence in the story also opens up the door to a whole new gamma-enhanced corner of the MCU, one that is only growing more and more

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier saw Sam deal with the effects of the super soldier serum, so it makes a good deal of sense for the character's first feature film to follow in those footsteps, having Cap try to contain the dangers of gamma experimentation, a byproduct of the race to duplicate Erskine's original work.

Whatever the Leader's grand plan ends up being, it is abundantly clear that it will hold grave consequences for Captain America, ones that may just end up changing the status quo for the winged Avenger. 

Release Date
February 14, 2025
- About The Author: Benny Stein