The MCU's Phase 4 was all about bringing new heroes into the fold as the Multiverse Saga got underway, now, many of those will finally get their chances to shine in Phase 5. But that's not to say there won't be some exciting new faces coming into play in the second half of the saga.
After revealing a slew of Phase 5 project reveals at San Diego Comic-Con in July, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige once again took the stage at Disney's D23 Expo. The MCU boss unveiled new details of several Phase 5 projects, leading to the confirmation of 18 new and returning Marvel characters.
With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania poised to begin Phase 5 in February 2023 as it builds toward its climax in July 2024's Thunderbolts, The Direct breaks down the newly-revealed Marvel characters for the next batch of projects.
As the adopted father of Maya Lopez, Wilson Fisk's return in Echo was inevitable, especially after she appeared to shoot him in the Hawkeye finale. Now, the privately shown first trailer for the Disney+ spin-off revealed Kingpin will be back with a bandage over his eye and utter the line "It's been a long time."
Rebel Skrull Leader Gravik
Kingsley Ben-Adir has been reported since March 2021 to be playing the chief Skrull villain of Secret Invasion, and the first look at his Rebel Skrull Leader Gravik was featured during the debut trailer. Gravik appears to be a brand-new villain, not from the comics, although he may take elements from other characters.
Special Agent Sonya Falsworth
Olivia Coleman will join the MCU in Secret Invasion as an old friend of Nick Fury, Special Agent Sonya Falsworth - who is also a descendant of The Howling Commandos' James Montgomery Falsworth. There's no telling how she will play into Fury's resistance to the Skrull invasion just yet.
Werewolf by Night
Werewolf by Night
As the title suggests, Werewolf by Night, aka Jack Russell, will make his MCU debut in his own Disney+ special, played by Gael García Bernal. As a group of hunters gathers at Bloodstone Castle, the Marvel werewolf is expected to be the target of the hunt, but ought to survive for more future appearances.
Marvel's giant swamp monster Man-Thing was also featured in the first trailer for Werewolf by Night, with no indication of how he plays into the events. In Marvel Comics, Man-Thing guards a swamp that also serves as the Nexus of All Realities and connects multiple universes, setting up a major role in the Multiverse Saga.
Laura Donnely's character was never explicitly said to be Elsa Bloodstone, but given she was already reported to play the young monster hunter and the special will see a group of hunters gathered at Bloodstone Castle, it's all but confirmed. Bloodstone ought to have a bright future ahead in the MCU's supernatural branch.
Captain America: New World Order
Coming off his brief role in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Danny Ramirez will be returning as Joaquin Torres to finally take up the mantle of Falcon. With Sam Wilson firmly in place as Captain America, Torres now has the wings and will be tagging along for New World Order, hopefully flying alongside the titular hero.
Carl Lumbly's Isaiah Bradley served as a Super Soldier during the Cold War, only to be covered up by the US Government. He was at the center of some of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's most heartfelt moments and will be back for New World Order - perhaps his grandson Eli, aka Patriot, will tag along.
Shira Haas will make her MCU debut in New World Order as Sabra, the first Israeli superhero - which has already stirred up a viral controversy. Sabra's origins are as a mutant who works for Mossad under the Israeli government, but Marvel Studios has already promised changes to the classic character.
After having his transformation into The Leader teased in The Incredible Hulk, Tim Blake Nelson will return as Samuel Sterns to serve as the main villain of New World Order. The Leader's powers in the comics grant him super-human intellect, he typically appears as the arch-nemesis of the Hulk.
As expected, Marvel Studios unveiled its Thunderbolts line-up at D23, and Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova will be heading up the roster as its leader. The sister of Natasha Romanoff appears placed to become the MCU's new Black Widow after her two breakout performances of Phase 4.
A surprise inclusion for the Thunderbolts comes with Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes, who appears placed to sit out Captain America 4 in favor of the ensemble. The MCU veteran was last seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier where he let his classic mantle go and set forth on a brand-new path.
Having recently been recruited by Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Valentina in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Wyatt Russell will return in Thunderbolts as John Walker. Donning his own US Agent suit and wielding his own shield, there's no telling where he will go next in his second MCU performance.
Stranger Things' David Harbour reprises his Black Widow role as Red Guardian, Russia's answer to Captain America. After spending his life opposing the western world, one can only imagine how he will end up on a team filled with American heroes and former government agents.
After proving to be the controversial villain of Black Widow, Antonia Dreykov, aka Taskmaster, will tag along in Thunderbolts. Her ability to mimic the fighting style of her opponents will undoubtedly prove valuable to the team, one can only hope Taskmaster will land better with audiences this time around.
As the only Thunderbolt not coming from Black Widow or The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Hannah John-Kamen will return as Ava Starr, aka Ghost, after Ant-Man and the Wasp. On top of the combat experience from her SHIELD training, Starr's quantum abilities allow her to phase and turn invisible.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Valentina Allegra de Fontaine arrived in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier to deliver John Walker his US Agent suit and shield. She then showed up in Black Widow to send Yelena Belova on a mission to kill Clint Barton. Along the way she has clearly been forming a team, and now it's clear she will be the one to put the Thunderbolts together in the ensemble flick.
Where is Marvel Going With Phase 5?
Street-level stories will be told in Echo and Daredevil; global threats will be faced in Secret Invasion, Thunderbolts, and Captain America 4; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Marvels will go cosmic; Blade, Agatha, and Ironheart will explore the supernatural; but only Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Loki Season 2 truly appears to be following the Multiverse Saga's primary themes.
Marvel Studios has revealed a broad range of projects for Phase 5, but for a saga that centers around the Multiverse, it has curiously few projects that appear poised to bring that into play. Not to mention the threat of Kang the Conqueror only looks placed to fit into two projects with Quantumania and Loki.
With Phase 4, it was clear to see Marvel Studios' goal to bring new heroes into the fold, setting them up to be major players in the Multiverse Saga. Now, Phase 5 looks to be telling many separate stories, one of which has even been described as a "crossover event," but it's tough to see much connectivity here.
Nonetheless, the MCU is clearly taking advantage of players from across both the Infinity Saga and Phase 4 to tell this next batch of stories. In fact, several of these characters haven't been seen since before Avengers: Endgame, so it will be intriguing to see how that passage of time has treated them.
Phase 5 will begin with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania which hits theaters on February 17, 2023.