The Marvel Cinematic Universe will be alive with possibilities as it approaches Phase Four. As rumors circulate of characters returning and not returning after Infinity War, it is hard to imagine what the landscape will look like. We may see familiar faces or costumes going forward, but characters may not be who they once were, or even replaced entirely. Perhaps the Avengers will find a way to bring back those they lost in Infinity War, the universe still needs heroes, after all. For those who were lost, returning might be hard to cope with. As common as the moving between life and the afterlife is in the comics, the MCU is a different matter altogether. Heroes could come back changed, with perspectives they didn't previously have.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is home to many characters, with a lot of them having sinister counterparts or reflections in the source material. There are times where the undesirable version of a character is themselves, delving deep into a darker path. On other occasions, they are copied by a more villainous version, using their image, name and even their body in the most extreme cases. There's even been times where villains have been replaced by even more sadistic versions of themselves. A lot of our favorite Avengers in the MCU have these deplorable counterparts, putting both them and their teammates at risk. With Phase Four on the horizon, we take a look at devious duplicates and horrifying homages!
20 DEVIL HULK
Devil Hulk is a horrific reflection of all the bad things that have happened to Bruce Banner. A being born of Hulk's trauma in the comics, it is most notably associated with his father, Brian Banner. Brian was an awful father to Bruce, and is often the driving force behind Devil Hulk either literally or metaphorically.
We saw in Infinity War that, after a run in with Thanos, Bruce was having problems returning to his Hulk form. This extended time away from his angrier self could force Bruce to confront all of his past actions as Hulk. Though Brian Banner doesn't have a solidified place in the MCU yet, Devil Hulk could still manifest, similar to the way another of his forms, Guilt Hulk might.
19 SYMBIOTE SPIDER-MAN
Peter Parker has gone through a lot in his short time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Aside from learning to use his powers and taking down his first proper nemesis, he’s been on an adventure across the galaxy. Standing with the Guardians of the Galaxy against Thanos, Peter fell victim to the infamous snap.
With Spider-Man: Far From Home coming up, we get the idea that wasn’t the last of the Wall-crawler. Who knows what he might bring back with him from space? Perhaps a certain symbiote of notoriously sinister beginnings. Marvel would be able to tackle the symbiote in their own way, capitalizing on the popularity of 2018’s Venom.
18 EVIL DEADPOOL
With Disney acquiring the ability to put the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that means the potential appearance of Deadpool. A popular anti-hero, Deadpool would be an interesting element to add to the Phase Four plan. With Wade, however, comes his gallery of villains. This includes the maniacal Evil Deadpool.
With a name that's a little on-the-nose, Evil Deadpool is just as dangerous and his morally dubious original. Formed from discarded parts of Deadpool proper, this patchwork of Wade Wilson formed when the discarded parts' healing factors caused the discarded body elements to form a mercenary of their own. It also doesn't help that these parts formed together after being cast into a dumpster by Wade himself.
17 HYDRA CAPTAIN AMERICA
The lead up to Secret Empire was shocking, to say the least. The idea that Captain America of all people would flip on his ideals and join Hydra, was unthinkable. The circumstances for his change could be mirrored in the MCU, as several elements line up. The first of which being that Hydra is greatly diminished and in need of more support.
The second element, is that the Cosmic Cube has been destroyed. The change in the comics was initiated by the fragments of a Cosmic Cube being reformed and given life. It was then manipulated by Red Skull to change Steve's history. With Skull still existing out there in the cosmos, he may use the Space Stone, from the broken Tesseract, to do just the same in the MCU.
16 SUPERIOR IRON MAN
Not the first time Tony’s inventions have caused issues in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his ambitious tech could bring a far more sinister Tony to our screens. In the AXIS story in the comics universe, Tony has his alignment swapped by a powerful spell. Now endowed with malicious ambitions, he creates an app.
The app projects an image onto the user of their ideal self. Taking advantage of a self-conscious public and a consumerist culture, Stark begins making money off of people’s desire to be beautiful. Forcing people to pay continuously, only Daredevil stood up to him to begin with, and was thrown off a building for his troubles.
15 IRON PATRIOT
Longtime fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be no stranger to the Iron Patriot armor. The first time we saw this Americanized battle suit was in Iron Man II. Thankfully, at this time it was piloted by James Rhodes. Now that he’s moved on to the War Machine armor, the Iron Patriot is freed up, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
In the comics, Norman Osborn adorned the armor when he took over in the power vacuum left after Secret Invasion. Osborn’s yet to enact any evil plots in the MCU, but it would be a problem for Tony, Rhodey and his classic foe Spidey, if he debuted with all the firepower of the Iron Patriot.
14 NICK FURY
Nick Fury appears to be on the level and in tune with things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This, however, could prove to be a detriment to the Avengers and indeed any hero. Operating for so long, being the common link between most heroes, he knows a lot. This means he knows enough to take down most of the superhumans he's encountered.
In the comics, during an event known as Original Sin, an old Fury, close to passing into the afterlife, released secrets. These secrets changed the landscape of the Marvel Universe, even rendering Thor unworthy of Mjolnir. With all the secrecy Fury operated under, who's to say the older, desperate Fury isn't pulling the strings from afar and the Avengers have been talking to Life Model Decoys?
13 BLACK PRIEST DOCTOR STRANGE
There were a lot of forces at play as the Marvel Comics Universe was collapsing during Time Runs Out. Several powerful factions tried their best to avert the crisis, some by nefarious means. Dr. Doom, for example, had designs on stealing the power of the Beyonders. He aimed to do this for his own gain, as the multiverse fell in on itself.
One faction that stood in his way, were the Black Priests. A race of magical beings who use words of power and synchronize their abilities, they had their own plan. They were destroying whole worlds, attempting to prune the multiverse. It would later be revealed that Dr. Strange was among them, even helping them fight a group of Avengers.
12 BULLSEYE'S HAWKEYE
In Netflix’s Daredevil season three, we got our first look at what Bullseye could do, and it was impressive. This ultra-accurate villain is a handful for just about any hero. Usually an enemy of Daredevil, his accuracy also makes him a natural enemy to the Avengers’ resident marksman, Hawkeye. Bullseye survived Daredevil season three, and with Daredevil’s cancellation, his calendar is pretty free.
To add to the link between Bullseye and Clint, he took the Hawkeye title as part of Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers in the comics. With Barton swapping to the Ronin identity in Endgame, Bullseye could swoop in and start dirtying Clint’s name in the press with his evil, sadistic actions.
11 UNSTOPPABLE COLOSSUS
Colossus may just follow his pal Deadpool into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It would be great to see the towering, metallic Russian interact with Thor, Hulk and Drax. There is, however, a darker side to Piotr, linked to Juggernaut. Piotr also had a taste of unstoppable power at one time, becoming the avatar of Cyttorak's chaos.
We know that Cyttorak has some place in the MCU, revealed to us by Dr. Strange. In Strange's battle with Thanos in Infinity War, he restrained him with dark red bands in parts. These were the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, confirming the chaotic deity's presence in the cinematic universe.
10 THE IRREDEEMABLE ANT-MAN
We've seen two Ant-Men already in the MCU. The first, historically, being Hank Pym and the most recent being Scott Lang. An Ant-Man who is yet to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is Eric O'Grady. O'Grady stole a version of the Ant-Man suit whilst working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and ended up melting the face of a fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the process.
A selfish, snarky and generally undesirable individual, Eric was dubbed the Irredeemable Ant-Man. He was given the chance to change when Cap put him on the Secret Avengers. O'Grady showed flashes of heroics but unfortunately lost his life protecting a child from sinister androids. Those same androids assimilated his body and he returned even more morally dubious than he originally was.
9 THE MAKER
Among the host of Marvel heroes Disney acquired the film rights to lately, are the Fantastic Four. Now that it is a possibility, Marvel has the challenge of introducing these old favorites. With the roster of the Avengers and the Guardians so stacked, perhaps there are other ways to use Reed Richards in particular.
Our first introduction to Reed could be a sinister one. In the Ultimate Comics Universe, Richards is a villain known as The Maker. Turning his back on his family, he became of the the most dangerous villains the multiverse had to offer. Starting Reed off in his villainous incarnation and putting him through a potential redemption, similar to Loki, might be a fresh way to introduce him to the MCU.
The appearance of Magus is not only possible, but could happen as soon as Endgame. The MCU could use Endgame to set up Magus as the next threat to the universe. We've seen Adam Warlock's cocoon present in the cinematic universe and the Infinity Gauntlet was at the center of Infinity War, these are the two key elements to Magus' creation.
Magus came to be when Adam Warlock used the Gauntlet's power to remove all evil from himself. A noble act on paper, it proved to be detrimental when that evil took form. Creating a dark reflection of the already powerful Adam Warlock, Magus became a blight on the cosmos. Will Adam have a hand in removing the gauntlet from Thanos in the MCU? If so, will be unknowingly unleash his darker self, too?
There's no denying that Thor is an extremely valuable asset to the Avengers. His power is vast and he was the closest to stopping Thanos in Infinity War. With the God of Thunder at his lowest going into Endgame, he could be a lot less concerned about his own safety. If he doesn't make it out of the final confrontation with Thanos, his loss will be felt.
Owing to the fact that he is so valuable, the Avengers may take steps to revive or replace him. During Civil War in the comics, Tony Stark made an android-clone hybrid using strands of Thor's hair. The creation would go haywire, though, taking the life of Bill Foster during the event.
6 RED ONSLAUGHT
The shocking return of the Red Skull in Infinity War raises a few questions. Does he still have designs on attaining power for himself? Can he return to Earth to plague Captain America once more? If he does, he's going to need something to bolster his power, as the Tesseract is no more and its Space Stone is in the Infinity Gauntlet.
With the X-Men now able to appear, Skull could enact one of his most devious plots from the comics in the MCU. Stealing the brain of Charles Xavier, Skull was able to give himself immense mental power, even ascending to the Red Onslaught when his life was taken. Let's hope he stays on Vormir.
Gamora met an untimely end in Infinity War, sacrificed by her father, Thanos. Should the Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy return, she'll probably be hungry for revenge. With the renewed fervor, she could return with a new approach. Gamora could make the transition to Requiem in Phase Four.
It wouldn't be out of place, we've seen Hawkeye move into the darker Ronin persona in the Endgame trailer. The issue with Requiem is that she is driven to complete her task, fighting her own team and the Avengers to get things done. Also, like her father before her, she can cause a lot of problems with the Infinity Stones.
In Ant-Man and the Wasp, we were given a look at Ghost. A little different from her comic counterpart, this incarnation of Ghost was reliant on tech to keep her alive. Using that very same tech, she was able to move through solid objects. This ability lent itself to heists and all manner of criminal activity, though she would relent from these pursuits.
In the comics, Ghost does not have the same afflictions. Typically a mercenary who steals on behalf of corrupt corporations, Ghost makes his living in industrial espionage. If someone got a hold of the MCU's Ghost's tech and re-purposed it, we could still see a classic version of the villain.
3 GOLIATH II
This Goliath is the second in his family to hold that title and is the nephew of Bill Foster. We were introduced to Bill, portrayed by Laurence Fishburne, in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Bill's worked alongside Hank Pym in the comics and in the MCU and is known to be able to use Pym Particles.
In the comics universe version of Civil War, Bill lost his life in one of the several battles of the even. His nephew would take up the mantle and attempt to get revenge on the Avengers, who he held accountable. We hope nothing happens to Bill in the MCU any time soon, but if his quick-tempered nephew gets a hold of some Pym Particles, it could mean trouble for our heroes!
Moonstone was part of Norman Osborn's plot to replace the Avengers during his Dark Reign. Taking the old costume of Ms. Marvel, aka Carol Danverse, she was the Dark Avengers' Ms. Marvel. She even fought Carol, helping the sinister group bombard her with energy, overloading her powers. Through this, they managed to defeat the future Captain Marvel.
While she has tried several times to reform as part of the Thunderbolts, Karla has a bad streak. She helped manipulate Osborn, using her education as a psychologist to play on his demons from his Green Goblin days. Karla even has previous romantic ties to Hawkeye, from their Thunderbolt days. A manipulative person, who has a knack for turning teams on themselves, this Ms. Marvel is not to be trusted!
1 YELENA BELOVA
Yelena Belova is the second espionage specialist to operate under the Black Widow Moniker. She was even trained by Natasha partly, tricked by her mentor to teach her the harsh realities of life outside the Red Room. Not taking kindly to this heavy handed lesson is the complexities of modern espionage, she went rogue. Illegally mining vibranium, battling the Secret Avengers and even trying to take the live of Spider-Woman, Yelena is no fan of the Avengers.
Although typically a villain, even working as Norman Osborn's Black Widow during Dark Reign, Yelena is a sympathetic character. When you consider that part of Natasha's lesson to teach her about the world in the comics involved swapping their faces, you can understand why she'd be a little disturbed by the event.