The 2022 D23 Fan Expo is inching closer to its grand arrival, and with it will come another thrilling round of news concerning the MCU's vast future.
San Diego Comic-Con focused on the bigger picture for the MCU, confirming a dozen projects in Phase 5 and laying out how the newly-named Multiverse Saga will end as Phase 6 closes in late 2025. Now, the focus is expected to be on more specific news about these upcoming projects, especially with at least nine confirmed movies and seven seasons of Disney+ programming on the way.
Rumors and reports have already confirmed a few of these newcomers that will join the fray over the next two years. Daniela Melchior will move from The Suicide Squad to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Rafael Casal was seen on set for Loki Season 2, and The Direct even reported that Graham Green was in line for a key role in Echo.
But who else could be in line to shock the world at D23 for Marvel Studios? The Direct has come up with 9 of the most likely characters that could be cast at this weekend's event.
Werewolf by Night
Gael Garcia Bernal was first attached to this role in November 2021, with no official announcement coming from Marvel Studios in nearly a year since then. This is particularly interesting since the Halloween special is rumored to release on Disney+ this year, with Halloween now less than two months away.
Once the special premieres, it will set up Werewolf by Night as a key player in Marvel Studios' growing supernatural storyline. And if there's any time for Marvel to confirm his casting in the upcoming special, it's now.
Should Werewolf by Night be announced, it seems to be almost guaranteed that Elsa Bloodstone will take her place alongside the lycanthrope. The classic monster hunter is rumored to be played by Laura Donnelly, although she's offered no comments on her potential inclusion in the MCU since the news broke in April 2022.
With two major cast members reportedly attached to the Halloween special, D23 would be the perfect place to introduce both at the same time. And especially with this Disney+ feature supposedly coming near Halloween time, Disney would be wise to share some news about it with fans this weekend.
Hamilton star Anthony Ramos was announced as part of the cast of Marvel Studios' Ironheart in February, bringing an increasingly popular young star into the Marvel Universe. He's also rumored to be playing The Hood after being seen in a costume similar to this character's look in set photos, bringing a villain into the mix who's dabbled in dark magic throughout his time in the comics.
Ironheart is in the midst of filming ahead of its Fall 2023 release date, which was confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this summer. With the show close to a year away from its premiere date, D23 could be a wonderful opportunity to share some information on Ramos' mysterious new character.
While not much information is known about the Wonder Man series, Ben Kingsley was reported to return as actor-turned-puppet Trevor Slattery in this Disney+ property. This news was announced at the end of August, which is suspicious timing considering that D23 would begin just over a week later.
This news could tease more concrete news about the Wonder Man show coming at D23, potentially with an actor being announced to play Simon Williams. Rumors and theories have pointed to both Crazy Rich Asians' Henry Golding and Man of Steel's Henry Cavill being in the running to play the role for Marvel Studios, which could become official at this event.
What If...? Season 2
At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Marvel Studios announced dozens of names that would reprise their roles in the first season of What If...?, the franchise's first-ever animated series. Fans are expecting another round of names to be confirmed for Season 2 ahead of its early 2023 release date at D23, some of which were already announced at San Diego Comic-Con.
Actors like Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Rachel Weisz (Melina Vostokoff), and Taika Waititi (Korg) were part of the first group confirmed, and more are sure to be on the way before next year. D23 could put up a big graphic confirming more actors the same way Marvel did at San Diego Comic-Con 2023, getting fans excited for a massive cast in Season 2's wild Multiversal stories.
2023's The Marvels will feature an exciting team-up between Carol Danvers, Kamala Khan, and Monica Rambeau as they take on an exciting new villain played by Zawe Ashton. She's rumored to be playing a gender-swapped take on Kree general Ael-Dan, who's only seen three appearances in Marvel Comics over the years.
Ashton could be part of an announcement centered on The Marvels, and Marvel Studios might even show the first look at her in footage exclusively footage to D23 attendees. With 10 months until the sequel premieres, the time may be drawing nearer to seeing this exciting new villain in action.
Although they are unsubstantiated, rumors have teased that Loki Season 2 will introduce the Supreme Squadron, led by Hyperion - a kind of evil take on Superman. And on top of that rumor, there are many who believe that this character will actually be played by Henry Cavill - the man who brought DC's own Superman to life within the DCEU.
Should this actually become a reality, Cavill's inclusion would add yet another huge name to the MCU, especially considering how important he was to DC's own interconnected universe. And should he be announced at D23, it would likely incite cheers heard far beyond the Anaheim city limits.
Nearly a year ago, director James Gunn teased that The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special would introduce "one of the greatest MCU characters of all time" as part of its arrival on Disney+. Many have theorized that Gunn is preparing to introduce Marvel's own version of Santa Claus, a mutant from the pages, and there have even been calls for Star Wars icon Mark Hamill to play the role.
An exclusive piece of art straight from The Direct actually imagined Hamill as Mr. Claus, which both he and Gunn liked on Twitter, even though that confirms nothing about the character or actor. With not much known about the Holiday Special before it arrives this year, this announcement would unquestionably ramp up the hype if it comes at D23.
With Blade inching closer to beginning production in October, many fans are hoping that the MCU finds a way to bring Marvel's take on Dracula, one of the most famous vampires of all time. Should he be a part of Blade or any other supernatural-based story, an announcement for that role at D23 would get plenty of fans' blood flowing.
Some fans have imagined industry icon Denzel Washington as the blood-sucking antagonist, while others have fan-casted The Boys' Antony Starr to don the cape. This role could be one that Marvel wants to get a head-start on before Blade's production gets underway, especially with the movie still more than a year away.
With Secret Invasion being the first Disney+ show to premiere next year, this new entry will likely have some presence at D23, although it's unclear how much Marvel will confirm or announce. There are a couple of key actors who still have unconfirmed roles alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn, one of them being Oscar-winner Olivia Colman.
Rumors have pointed to Colman playing a gender-swapped Union Jack, an older version of whom also utilized in a minor role in Captain America: The First Avenger. While there are still countless questions to answer about Secret Invasion, either footage from the series or an announcement about Colman could set her place in the story in stone.
Colman is far from the only award-winner joining Secret Invasion, which also features Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke in an undisclosed role. Having the actress behind Daenerys Targaryen is a big deal for the MCU, especially with her reportedly playing a key role in the MCU's first true crossover event on Disney+.
Reports have hinted that Clarke will play one of Secret Invasion's key players from the Skrull side of the fight named G'iah, who even switched sides after seeing her peoples' brutality in their invasions. Should Clarke show up or be announced at D23, her role and presence will only get bring more excitement for Secret Invasion's imminent debut in spring 2023.
More than two years ago, rumors hinted that Marvel is developing a movie or show centered around Nova, one of the comics' biggest cosmic heroes. Most fans are expecting the MCU's version of Nova to be Richard Rider, and with the Guardians of the Galaxy and other cosmic properties shining, this introduction would make waves if announced at D23.
A number of actors have been fan-cast as Nova, most prominently Top Gun: Maverick's Glen Powell and The Maze Runner's Dylan O'Brien, although the project still isn't officially announced. Marvel Studios might shock fans by announcing it as part of Phase 6, with a slight chance that it could come with an actor officially attached to the role.
At San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel confirmed that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania would introduce MODOK in live-action for the first time. The only real question now is who will play the villain, especially with only one shot of him coming in the footage that was shown exclusively at Comic-Con.
Rumors had originally pointed to comedy legend Jim Carrey playing the role, but now, the attention has turned to Ant-Man villain Corey Stoll returning in a new capacity. No audio from MODOK has been heard yet, but after Kang the Conqueror stole the show in July, there's a small chance that MODOK could shine here unless Marvel is planning a bigger reveal at a later date.
The Fantastic Four are arguably the group of MCU characters that have been a part of the most fan-casts yet thanks to their transition from 20th Century Fox to their Phase 6 solo movie. And while John Krasinski brought one version of Reed Richards to the screen in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, fans are anxious to see who will portray the stretchy scientist in 2024.
One rumor pointed to Penn Badgley having spoken to Marvel about potentially taking on the role, although no one star has been nailed down as a frontrunner for the role yet. With director Matt Shakman in tow and with just over two years until the movie releases, a Reed announcement would unquestionably bring the house down for the MCU fans.
Where there's a Reed Richards, right next to him will be a Sue Storm, another highly coveted role for the MCU's expanding future. While Sue hasn't gotten the same kind of attention as her team leader and romantic partner from the comics, she'll be a vital member of the team, meaning she'll need the perfect person to bring her to the big screen.
In recent days, Free Guy's Jodie Comer was rumored to have gotten the role for the MCU, although Daisy Edgar-Jones' name has come up in other reports surrounding the movie. She most likely wouldn't be the only member of the Fantastic Four introduced, but the rumors have hinted that Marvel is gearing up to introduce the actress for Sue this weekend.
If both Reed and Sue are officially cast at D23, it would seem likely that Johnny and Ben would get that same treatment as Fantastic Four moves further into development. And just like the first two team members, there are some impressive young actors in the running to flame on as the Human Torch.
Star Wars' John Boyega has discussed a potential MCU arrival while Outer Banks' Rudy Pankow has an endorsement from castmate Gary Weeks, and that doesn't include Dacre Montgomery, Joe Keery, or Baywatch's Zac Efron. Johnny is literally and figuratively one of the hottest fan casts in the came, which would make for a fiery announcement at D23.
Last but not least in the Fantastic Four is Ben Grimm, the team's most grounded member, along with its biggest in size. More than a handful of stars have been imagined as the rock-based hero, with Gotham's Drew Powell even campaigning to take on the role himself.
The list of potential Thing actors is massive, including John Cena, Seth Rogan, Jack Black, and even Jason Segel over the past few months. While The Thing may be the most under-the-radar member of Marvel's First Family, he's sure to rock the house should he be announced in front of thousands of diehard MCU fans.
And with an immensely powerful team in the Fantastic Four on the way, their main antagonist, Doctor Doom, has been just as prominent in rumors. This villain could be one of the MCU's biggest villains in history, and he's also one that may arrive sooner than many are expecting.
Rumors have pointed to Doom joining the fray as soon as this year in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with plenty of ties to Wakanda and Atlantis and a likely role coming in 2025's Avengers: Secret Wars. There are no doubts that a Doom announcement at D23 would bring the house down, likely being something of a curtain call moment for Marvel's panels should it actually happen.
The X-Men will likely be something that Marvel waits to introduce for a few years, especially if rumors about a complicated contract situation with Fox are to be believed. This would include Professor X, and although Sir Patrick Stewart reprised the role for the MCU in Doctor Strange 2, this year's D23 isn't likely to include an announcement for the MCU's leading mutant.
Rumors hinted that Marvel might plan an announcement for the hero at D23, with Giancarlo Esposito and Denzel Washington being the supposed frontrunners to land the sought-after role. But when the X-Men do eventually show up, Charles Xavier will be front and center for the MCU's mutant-related adventures.
Once Professor X wheels into the picture, his arch-nemesis Magneto is sure to glide in before too long. And while his presence is unlikely to be seen at D23 this weekend, it's no surprise that fans are already imagining who will suit up in the metal helmet and flowing cape.
Esposito and Washington have been in discussions regarding this role as well, as have stars like Daniel Craig, Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau, and Batman v Superman's Jeremy Irons. There's a slim chance that Marvel could shock the world with a Magneto casting at D23, but it certainly falls more into the "unlikely" category at this time.
Thanks to Hugh Jackman's portrayal, arguably the most anticipated mutant of the bunch is Wolverine ahead of his expected MCU debut. A number of stars have discussed potentially taking on this role in the MCU, including Taron Edgerton having potentially met with Marvel about the role and Daniel Radcliffe addressing the fan casts that have shown him with the mutton chops and claws.
Although fans are dying to see James Howlett finally take his place in the MCU, especially after that nod to his existence in She-Hulk Episode 2, he'll likely be some time away from actually appearing on screen. As Phase 5 and Phase 6 come and go, that time may be when fans should start expecting this casting to come to fruition, meaning an announcement at D23 2022 is almost definitely not happening.
After Charlie Cox and Vincent D'Onofrio came back as Daredevil and Kingpin, next on fans' wishlists was Krysten Ritter as the powerful Jessica Jones. Rumors have even pointed to this comeback happening as early as this year in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, and with that show currently running, D23 may be a spot for Ritter to take the stage and confirm her return.
While the hope is that she'll be a part of 2024's Daredevil: Born Again, there are rumors that she'll play a role in 2023's Echo, which Marvel may actually want to keep hidden until that show premieres next summer. Taking that into account, Ritter may be an unlikely get for this weekend, but that won't stop fans from hoping it happens.
Arguably no former Defenders Saga star has gone more under the radar than Jon Bernthal, who portrayed Frank Castle/The Punisher in both Daredevil and his own solo series. There's also been quite little pointing to him making an MCU comeback, although Claire Temple star Rosario Dawson might have let it slip that Marvel is planning to bring him back for more brutal action.
This could come in his own new solo series, although he could also be announced as part of the cast of Daredevil: Born Again, reuniting him with Charlie Cox once more. Although it's not expected that this will happen, his arrival wouldn't be an unwelcome one as MCU fans look forward to seeing these characters make the jump into the Marvel Studios bubble.
Which announcement do you most want to see at this year's D23 Fan Expo? Which actor/character combo makes for your favorite fan cast? Let us know at @MCU_Direct and @TheDirect on Twitter.