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Captain America: New World Order Is Bringing Back An Unexpected Hulk Villain

The Marvel Studios panel at this year's D23 Expo has given fans of the extended franchise an exciting glimpse at what's in store moving forward (via CNBC). As we creep toward Phase 5, viewers can look forward to seeing Anthony Mackie return as Sam Wilson in "Captain America: New World Order," which will be the character's first film appearance since taking on the mantle of Captain America (via The Hollywood Reporter). After the events of "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," Sam certainly has his work cut out for him, especially since it's been revealed that he'll be going up against one of the Hulk's old foes.

Out of all the movies in the MCU, "The Incredible Hulk" is notoriously forgettable. However, a few characters from that ill-fated 2008 film have once again become relevant to the current timeline. Tim Roth recently reprised his role as Emil Blonksy/The Abomination in "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," and it looks like another surprising Hulk villain is set to return in the next "Captain America" flick.

Tim Blake Nelson will returns as Dr. Samuel Sterns/The Leader

As longtime fans of the franchise know, Marvel loves to bring back familiar faces for shock value. In alignment with this strategy, IGN reports that Tim Blake Nelson is set to reprise his role as Dr. Samuel Sterns, also known as The Leader, in "Captain America: New World Order." Sterns first appeared in "The Incredible Hulk" as the mysterious "Mr. Blue," a scientist who tries to help Bruce Banner (Ed Norton) get rid of his Hulk persona. Much like Blonsky, Sterns' exposure to Banner's blood causes him to mutate, although viewers aren't privy to his final form. In the comics, Sterns becomes The Leader after exposure to gamma radiation gives him green skin, a bulbous head, and heightened intelligence (via Marvel Database). However, his origin story already has a different foundation within the MCU canon, so it's possible that the character's appearance and skill set will be altered, as well.

To his credit, Nelson is looking forward to playing Sterns again. "I'm delighted," the actor said at the D34 Expo (via Deadline). "Marvel is part of cinema history, that I get to be a part of that is an absolute honor. Thank you for sticking with The Leader." According to the same source, the next "Captain America: New World Order" is currently set to premiere on May 3, 2024.