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Unexpected Character / MCU Phase 4

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Phase 4

    Wanda Vision 
  • A few people that played smaller roles in various MCU films are set to appear WandaVision, a series revolving around two heroes that said characters have little to no connection to normally:
    • Practically nobody was expecting Darcy Lewis to reappear in the MCU, given that she only appearred in Thor and Thor: The Dark World, where she was a Canon Foreigner, and was thought to have been completely forgotten after the events of the latter movie.note  Her appearance here is quite the shock, as Darcy has absolutely no relation to anything MCU-related outside of the Thor movies, much less Wanda and Vision.
    • Given that he only appeared relatively recently as a side character in Ant-Man and the Wasp, and has no connection whatsoever to Vision or Scarlet Witch in the comics, it's unlikely anyone ever expected Jimmy Woo to appear in this series as well.
    • Monica Rambeau of all people plays a big role in this series. Like Woo, she was only introduced as early as Captain Marvel (2019) as a young, but as a bright kid during the events of that film. As such, this series shows her having grown up significantly since her debut, now played by Time Shifted Actress Teyonah Parris.
    • Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver appearing was a shock since he died in Age of Ultron but hadn't been seen since...but that's not the unexpected part. What's most unexpected is that he's not played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson; he's played by Evan Peters aka Peter Maximoff from the FOX X-Men Film Series. This ends up being subverted when it turns out Peters' character is actually a magically controlled victim of Agatha Harkness who isn't actually either version of Quicksilver, so it was ultimately just a Casting Gag.
    The Falcon And The Winter Soldier 
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been revealed to include the Captain America foe Flag-Smasher, or at least a group who bears the same name as him. This is a minor surprise if only because of Flag-Smasher's relative obscurity and the fact that the series will already have Zemo take up the main villain role.
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    Black Widow 
  • Yelena Belova, the other Black Widow appears, even when she seemed to be Adapted Out apart from a Mythology Gag with Natasha looking like her as a blonde in Avengers: Infinity War.
  • The main villain of the movie? Taskmaster. He's always been an Ensemble Darkhorse, but never was he hinted at to appear in the MCU, and he's never been a specific villain for Black Widow.
  • The Red Guardian, which is the Soviet equivalent to Captain America, makes a surprise appearance since he's obscure and fell Out of Focus after the real world fall of the Soviet Union.
     Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 
  • Shang-Chi is another one. He's obscure and was never even mentioned beforehand as a possibility, yet is set to headline his own standalone movie. There was also the fact that, in the comics, Shang-Chi is the son of the infamous Fu Manchu himself, although since his debut, this aspect of his character has largely been abandoned in the comics due to Marvel losing the rights to Fu Manchu. To remedy this, Marvel Studios simply decided to use the Mandarin as the Big Bad for his movie.
  • The Mandarin himself is a rather unexpected choice as the Big Bad for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Not only does he not have any connections to Shang-Chi in the comics (due to him being Iron Man's Arch-Enemy and all), but many fans thought that the Mandarin was Put on a Bus after Iron Man 3 and All Hail the Kingnote , especially since Iron Man died in Avengers: Endgame. Lastly, there was the concern about the Mandarin's Yellow Peril nature not being feasible in an increasingly diverse MCU, so Marvel Studios resolved this simply by having him fight their first Asian lead. The best part? This Mandarin will not be the Trevor Slattery version, but the real Mandarin.
  • On a meta-level, yet another case of Unexpected Actor. In this film, the Mandarin will be played by Tony Leung. While Leung is known in his native China for acting in exclusively Asian cinema, this is his first Hollywood role. While Marvel Studios' intentions of appealing to the Chinese market are understandable, casting Leung of all actors was quite a surprise.
     What If...? 
  • While the character is associated heavily with the What If...? comics, and his species was introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Uatu the Watcher being confirmed as the narrator of the Disney+ series What If...? (2021) is something that came as a surprise to a number of fans due to his association with the Fantastic Four IP, and by extension, those film rights. Most fans expected the characters to start being integrated at a much later point than 2021, in cameo capacities, but Uatu is lead character. Provided that there aren't any surprise cameos in the works preceding What If...?, Uatu will become the first character from the Fox-Marvel library to be integrated into the MCU.note 
     Eternals 
  • No one was expecting a movie about The Eternals, given their obscurity. It makes sense, as their status as being a race of superpowered beings in a hidden city fills the void of The Inhumans after their movie was cancelled.
    • Even less expected: The Black Knight, of all characters, as a supporting character. While he did have a relationship with Sersi - one of the main Eternals - in the comics, his fantasy background would have been a little too much out of place in a movie featuring cosmic-level superhumans. This became doubly true when it was leaked just prior to D23 that Kit Harington had been cast in a secret role for an undisclosed MCU film. A large number of fans and websites assumed that given his high visibility thanks to the popularity of Game of Thrones, he would be playing a big name Marvel character like Reed Richards, or even Wolverine in an X-Men reboot. Very, very few people guessed that he'd be playing Black Knight, a C-list Avenger who hadn't even been prominent in the comics for a great many years.
    • In another case of an unexpected actor, the news that Gemma Chan would be playing Sersi despite having already played Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel just two years earlier also caught many off guard. While there had already been a few cases of actors from Marvel's TV shows portraying different characters in the movies and vice versanote , this was probably the most prominent example of an actor playing two wholly unrelated characters in the films.
     Hawkeye 
  • Kate Bishop is set to debut in the Hawkeye series where she takes up Clint's mantle. Because she's rather recent, the rest of the Young Avengers haven't debuted yet, and many assumed that Clint's daughter Lila Barton would be the MCU's equivalent to Kate Bishop, it was a surprise.
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     Spider-Man: No Way Home 
  • Jamie Foxx will portray Electro once again in the third Spider-Man movie, although it's not clear if this is a new iteration of the character (like with J. K. Simmons returning as J. Jonah Jameson) or if it's the same character from The Amazing Spider-Man Series. (Foxx noted "I won't be blue in this one" in a now-deleted Instagram post, implying a new take on the character.) Aside from the casting, however, the character is unexpected given that the MCU has thus far strayed from reusing Spider-Man supervillains from TASM or Sam Raimi's trilogy.note  Even fans who were rooting for them to use previous villains were expecting more iconic characters with deep-seated connections to Spider-Man — like Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus — to come first, making it surprising that a less influential villain would be confirmed to appear before them.
     Thor: Love and Thunder 
  • The return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster in Thor: Love and Thunder. While Portman's surprise cameo in Endgame had indicated that she and Marvel had possibly mended fences after her previous Creator Backlash over the way Thor: The Dark World turned out, her return to the Thor franchise still took many fans by surprise. Especially after the way Jane had been rather dismissively written out of the series via a single throwaway line in Ragnarok.
     Moon Knight 
  • Moon Knight getting his own series on Disney+ might just take the prize for least expected announcement in 2019. Not only is he a pretty damn small-time character in the comics with only a few short runs to his name, but the width of difference between those takes has left many people wondering what exactly they plan to do with him and what niche he's meant to fill going forward. Even those who were expecting him probably raised an eyebrow at him being added to Disney's proprietary streaming service given the Moon Knight mythos is packed to capacity with family-unfriendly content, to the point many expected that if he did show up it would be on Netflix with other shows based on similarly adult franchises.
     She-Hulk 
  • She-Hulk getting her own Disney+ show wasn't on anyone's radar, due to the rights issues with Universal that have kept Bruce from having his own movie since Phase 1. To clarify, Universal holds the distribution rights to stand-alone Hulk movies while Disney / Marvel Studios can use the Hulk and his characters in ensemble projects such as the Avengers movies and Thor: Ragnarok. How was this show able to get greenlit then? Simple: Marvel realized that there was no rule against the Hulk and his characters appearing in a TV series.
    • Many fans were caught off guard when it was confirmed by Disney in late 2020 that the series would feature the return of Tim Roth as the Abomination, who hasn't been seen since The Incredible Hulk all the way back in 2008.
     Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania 
  • Kang the Conqueror will be the Big Bad of the third Ant-Man movie, of all projects. While Kang the Conqueror has fought Ant-Man, normally it is done in the context of the Avengers comics, rather than in Ant-Man's solo comics. Likewise, most people thought that Kang's time-traveling nature would have made him a better fit for a future Avengers film than a street-level hero such as Ant-Man.
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     Blade 
  • Blade. Outside of small whispers that were made sporadically, few expected he would headline a movie. It was thought that his Darker and Edgier nature and his deal with the supernatural, specifically the element that is the vampires, would keep him away from the MCU. This only made it all the more surprising when their SDCC 2019 presentation closed on the Blade announcement, indicating they were very aware of this.
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