The MCU is having a lot of issues now, from poor box office for The Marvels to a big reshuffling of their Phase 5 schedule. But the biggest problem is how to handle the character meant to be the key villain for this saga.
The plan for Phase 5 was to be centered around Kang the Conqueror, the time-traveling foe ready to conquer the universe. Jonathan Majors debuted the role in Loki with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, setting up variants of Kang ready to attack. It was all to lead to 2026’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
But that was before Majors was arrested and now facing trial for assault charges on his girlfriend. The obvious idea would be to simply recast the role, but rumors are that Marvel may be deciding to just drop Kang altogether.
This is a huge move, of course, changing the plans for future films. It also means they need a new villain to stand in for Kang. Luckily, Marvel has no shortage of great villains and several who can become huge foes for a phase of movies. Here are the dozen best candidates to replace Kang in Phase 5 and be even more compelling foes for the MCU.
The obvious choice as the MCU without Marvel’s greatest villain doesn’t seem right. Victor Von Doom is the ultimate foe: A brilliant scientist, master sorcerer, a dictator, an awesome look and utterly evil. There’s the dynamic Doom truly believes the world will be a better place once he rules and the conflict with other heroes will be terrific.
Get the right actor in the part and Doom will be a dominant force, trying to remake the world in his image and control time as well. If anyone can easily replace Kang, it’s Doom and finally do justice to the ultimate Marvel foe.
Doctor Strange showed this demonic ruler of the Dark Dimension held back when Strange trapped him in a time loop. That humiliation can only burn at Dormammu, and he wants to strike back not just at Strange but all of Earth. Thus, setting him up as the new arc villain makes sense.
It can play into the comics as Mordo now joins Dormammu in his deluded quest to “purify” magic. As a cosmic force, Dormammu can bring huge forces to bear on Earth and it would take more than another of Strange’s tricks to stop him and keep the MCU safe from being swallowed into the Dark Dimension.
Yes, Russell Crowe’s performance in Thor: Love & Thunder was pretty campy. However, the end credits scene showed a more serious Odin, wounded by Thor, vowing to make humanity fear and respect the gods again. While Thor is his first target, Zeus can decide the rest of Earth follows.
The idea of the MCU heroes taking on the Greek gods and creatures of myth is spectacular, especially with Hercules caught in the middle and leading to spectacular battles. It can make Zeus a bigger threat and pay off on the casting of Crowe in the role while providing some great new cosmic action for the MCU.
The High Evolutionary
One of the best MCU villains ever, GOTG Vol 3 showed this twisted cosmic geneticist obsessed with creating the “perfect” species. This was a figure who created an entire world of beings and then just wiped them out when they failed to live up to his expectations. He can command armies, but his evil side makes him more terrifying than Kang.
GOTG Vol 3 ended with a wounded Evolutionary thrown in prison. That’s a perfect setup for him escaping and seek revenge not just on the Guardians but all of Earth. He may see the planet as a petri dish for his experiments, and Chukwudi Iwuji was mesmerizing in the role, so making him the new arc villain works perfectly for the MCU.
Morgan Le Fay
Yes, as in the Morgan Le Fay of the King Arthur myths. However, she’s popped up in the comics as well, an immortal sorceress obsessed with power. A memorable Avengers storyline had Morgan rewriting reality into a medieval world, which could be a fun sight.
Even without that, the character (who was played by Elizabeth Hurley in the Runaways TV show) can be a legit threat with her magic, her wiles and lust for power and with the right actress in the role, could easily dominate as an arc villain for Phase 5.
Marvel is bringing in the Fantastic Four, so Galactus seems inevitable. This cosmic being is a terror across the universe as he feasts on entire planets. While it’s debatable how evil he truly is, a being trying to turn Earth into lunch is naturally going to be the bad guy.
Having Earth’s heroes unite against Galactus would be the only way to defeat him, and that’s without adding the Silver Surfer to the mix. If anything, Galactus can be a true ultimate enemy for any film saga, so making him Phase 5’s final threat is something MCU fans would love to see.
The character of Sam Sterns showed up back in 2008's The Incredible Hulk with hints that he might endure the same fate as in the comics. That was gamma radiation transforming him into a super genius and also wanting utter control.
An enemy who relies on his brain, rather than brawn to challenge the heroes can be compelling and that's without his look of the huge green head. The Leader can't only be a foe for the Hulk but all of the MCU as he tries to warp the world into his image.
Hailing from the other-dimensional Negative Zone, this alien being is obsessed with destroying life in all its forms. He has an awesome look with his insect appearance, his armor and his Cosmic Control Rod giving him great powers to stand toe to toe with guys like the Hulk.
The “Annihilation” event had Annihilus leading a massive invasion of the universe, wiping out entire galaxies. That proves he has the goods to be a massive threat to the MCU and “Annihilation Wave” can easily replace Kang Dynasty as the endgame movie for Phase 5.
In the classic Hulk storyline "Future Imperfect," the Hulk found himself in a dark future, a century after a nuclear war wiped out most of humanity. The Hulk was one of the few heroes to survive, warped by the radiation to become a monstrous tyrant called the Maestro.
Imagine a Hulk capable of conniving thought, far stronger and utterly ruthless. Having him and the regular Hulk clash would be fantastic as the Maestro is the Hulk unleashed. If you want to be truly daring, cast Edward Norton in the role to make it even better.
GOTG Vol 3 introduced Adam Warlock, who can be a compelling character to build up in future films. That can also lead to the introduction of Warlock’s literal opposite number, the Magus. Hailing from a pocket dimension, the Magus is as obsessed with power and control as Warlock fights for good.
The original “Infinity War” comic book event had the Magus staging a huge attack using evil doppelgangers of heroes. That would be a great visual for a movie, yet this underrated foe can get a major spotlight here.
One of the more famous Avengers foes, despite only briefly being used, Michael Korvac was a would-be tyrant in the 31st century fighting the Guardians of the Galaxy. He ended up gaining cosmic powers to become an all-powerful being with a unique idea of “fixing” the universe.
This led to an all-out battle, with Korvac wiping out the Avengers before finally being defeated. Introducing him would be a bold step, but it could be built up, once more the idea of a normal man given godlike powers and replicating that battle royal with the MCU heroes would be a terrific finale for the Phase 5 saga.
Fans were convinced this demonic figure would pop up in WandaVision. It didn’t happen, but the potential is still there for Mephisto to arrive. As the devil of the Marvel Universe, he loves playing games, corrupting souls and working behind the scenes.
But Mephisto also relishes a chance to cause mass destruction and organize chaos. He could be shown manipulating events in lead-up films, building to a final conflict where he tries to bring Hell on Earth. MCU fans have been waiting a while for Mephisto to arrive, and this is finally his chance.
While it's unsure if the MCU truly dumps Kang after all that setup, at least they have some able replacements for him.