Now that She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has come and gone, fans are learning more about the making of Marvel Studios' final Phase 4 series, as well as what ideas and plans didn't make it into the meta, surprise-filled show.
In addition to unrealized concepts for Hulk's son Skaar and what was supposed to be Daredevil's initial post-credits scene, fans have also learned that Marvel considered bringing back Edward Norton for She-Hulk's stunner of a finale.
But apparently, that's not at all. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law also had villainous plans for a character who was recently confirmed for Captain America: New World Order.
She-Hulk's Scrapped Plans For Captain America 4 Villain
Nelson first appeared as Samuel Sterns or The Leader in 2008's The Incredible Hulk. But much like the film itself, his MCU story was never revisited, until now.
Due to She-Hulk's various callbacks to the 2008 film, coupled with the presence of Intelligencia and plots to steal her blood, fans speculated that Nelson's The Leader would return in the series.
In fact, this theory only picked up steam when Tim Blake Nelson was confirmed to be returning in Captain America 4 halfway through She-Hulk's season.
While those theories were ultimately proven wrong, according to Gao, The Leader's absence wasn't always the plan, saying, "In my original pitch, I did have The Leader in there:"
"In my original pitch, I did have The Leader in there. Just as an option, as a suggestion, you know?"
As to why Samuel Sterns didn't make it into the show but will appear in Captain America 4, Gao confessed, "I honestly don't remember" but did note that "there was thought about bringing him back:"
"But really, I can't remember why [it was scrapped]. I don't remember if it was organically taken out, because we just came up with other stuff, or if we were told no. I honestly don't remember. But there was thought about either bringing him back or doing some version of a new version of Leader, or some relation to him. But, I mean truly, this was three years ago, and the show has evolved so much that I don't remember what actually happened."
She-Hulk's HulkKing vs. The Leader
While the reason why The Leader was a casualty of She-Hulk rewrites is unknown, it may have been for the best.
The villain that did make it into the series, Todd Phelps' HulkKing, fit the show's tone and its message and likely in a way that The Leader couldn't, especially if Marvel Studios had different plans for him.
That appears to be the case given that Captain America 4 director Julius Onah has described the film as a "paranoid thriller" where everything "feels so real and intense because of who this adversary is."
While the reasons why She-Hulk scrapped The Leader are unknown and probably always will be, it's fascinating to know that the character was considered for multiple MCU projects.
The real question now is whether Captain America 4 has plans for more than one Hulk character. And, if so, is New World Order where She-Hulk will make her big screen debut?
All episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law are available to stream on Disney+; Captain America: New World Order is set to premiere on May 3, 2024.