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The Most Anticipated MCU Reveals

Over the course of the MCU's long history, we've seen plenty of big reveals, from the Red Skull peeling back his human visage to Captain Marvel showing up to save Tony Stark in "Avengers: Endgame." But some reveals transcend a simple first appearance and are greatly anticipated by fans and audiences who may suspect a big new character is on their way. Some reveals are movie titles or sequel news, too, as several announcements in Kevin Feige's 2014 Phase 3 presentation proved after fans had already predicted a few of them.

This anticipation usually prompts loads of speculation and endless theorizing about where and when a new hero or villain might pop up and what their presence might mean for the MCU. As the cinematic universe has grown, it seems fans have gotten better and better at guessing what's coming, to the point of Marvel having to hide their actors on set or force them to outright lie in interviews.

In the aftermath of several highly anticipated appearances, we thought we'd take a look back at some of the most anticipated MCU reveals. 

Nick Fury

Prior to the release of "Iron Man," very little was heard publicly about the plan to build the "Avengers" superhero team-up beyond some mentions of the studio's far-out future hopes. Nobody knew if "Iron Man" or "The Incredible Hulk" would be successful enough to warrant the crossover epic, and given that nothing like it had ever been attempted, many probably assumed it was all but a pipe dream. All that changed, however, in the first MCU post-credits scene, where Samuel L. Jackson popped up as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D Nick Fury.

In the lead-up to the film's release, however, word had leaked out that the "Pulp Fiction" actor had been spotted on set as the super-spy and caused such a commotion that Marvel was forced to deny the rumor, despite others already acknowledging it. As press screenings began, gossip continued, with some versions of the film withholding that sequence so as not to spoil the moment for the audience before the movie's wide release. Ultimately, when Jackson came out of the shadows and into the frame and mentioned the "Avengers Initiative," fans went wild, knowing that his appearance signaled the beginning of what would later be the biggest superhero crossover team-up film in movie history.

Black Widow

The Monday after the release of the first "Iron Man" film, Marvel Studios immediately greenlit sequels, spinoffs, and the blockbuster team-up, "The Avengers." Unfortunately, a writer's strike would delay most of them, making 2010's "Iron Man 2" the lone release from the studio after its first two films in 2008. But that wasn't a bad thing in the end, as it left audiences eagerly awaiting teases for the big team-up in "Avengers," and they got just that in "Iron Man 2" when it was announced that Scarlett Johansson would join the cast as Natasha Romanoff.

One of the most beloved women Avengers from the Marvel Comics, Black Widow was a former villain — a Russian super-spy turned hero — and fans knew her arrival in "Iron Man 2" meant she'd likely be joining the super-team when they finally got together. But what role would she play in the "Iron Man" sandbox? A former flame of Tony Stark's? A villainous partner to Mickey Rourke's Russian baddie Whiplash? All options were on the table, and nobody knew what to expect until the first trailers hit, revealing Johansson as the fierce, butt-kicking S.H.I.E.L.D. field agent. 

The Mandarin

When "Iron Man" was first announced, fans immediately began wondering which comic book villain he might face off with in the franchise starter. Most fans wanted to see his biggest and most famous foe, the Mandarin, who was his long-time arch-nemesis in the comic books. If the first "Batman" movie could feature the Joker, and the first "X-Men" movie feature Magneto, surely Tony Stark's arch-nemesis could appear in "Iron Man." Unfortunately, it would be nearly eight years and three films before the Mandarin would make an appearance in any fashion.

Despite early buzz suggesting that the Mandarin might appear, all fans got was a tease of a terrorist organization called the Ten Rings in "Iron Man." But in 2013's sequel "Iron Man 3," he appeared in the flesh. To many fans' dismay, however, he wasn't the all-powerful mastermind that wielded ten rings of power as he did in the comics, but an actor hired to play the role of the organization's leader to instill fear. Thankfully, we finally got to see the real Mandarin in the form of Tony Leung's long-lived supervillain in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

The Winter Soldier

In "Captain America: The First Avenger," diehard fans weren't shocked when Bucky fell to his apparent death in a moment late in the film. Those in the know nodded in approval, knowing that the character's demise was a key part of the Captain America mythos. But they also knew where it might lead: to the return of the sidekick as a brainwashed Russian agent, the Winter Soldier. Whether that would happen sooner or later was anyone's guess, but when the sequel's title was announced, they all knew the answer.

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" saw the return of fan-favorite Bucky and spotlights his transition into the Winter Soldier villain, just as he did in the comics. In that continuity, the Winter Soldier fought Captain America in one of the more celebrated runs of the "Captain America" comics of the last 20 years before he was broken of his brainwashing. Once freed from his mind control, Bucky would fight alongside Captain America and eventually wield the shield himself when Captain America was killed. When "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" was announced, similar anticipation picked up among the fandom, as many wondered if the MCU version of the Winter Soldier might become the next Captain America as he had in the comics.

Ghost Rider

"Ghost Rider" and "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" weren't exactly well-received, and fans had long clamored to see the character join the MCU. And by 2016, it seemed that the best hope of an appearance might be in the grimmer, grittier world of Netflix's Marvel shows like "Daredevil" or "Luke Cage." All that would change with the release of "Doctor Strange," when Marvel suddenly embraced the supernatural, setting the stage for "Ghost Rider" to make an entrance into the MCU. But few expected it to be on the ABC series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

At San Diego Comic-Con 2016, when it was announced that Ghost Rider would be coming to the network series, fans went into a frenzy, with the first posters revealing a flaming chain across the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo. Would this version finally do justice to the dark, violent comics from whence he sprang? Or would it be another disappointing outing? Could a network TV series devote the budget needed to faithfully bring him to life on the small screen? Though limited by network limitations, when Ghost Rider showed up, he didn't disappoint

Daredevil in costume

Before the MCU, fans were forced to accept lackluster efforts from studios bringing superheroes to the big screen. Such was the case with 2003's "Daredevil" starring Ben Affleck. But in 2013, Marvel and Netflix agreed to a deal that would see the streaming giant develop a series for Daredevil that would reboot the character for the MCU. Fans were eager to see this new vision of the Man without Fear and how he might look in his all-red suit in a showdown with Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin.

Leading up to the series' 2015 debut, however, Marvel was careful not to spoil the ending, and with Matt Murdock donning a homemade outfit for the first 12 episodes, the company — along with Netflix — kept Daredevil's final suit close to its chest. Early set photos and officially released stills only showed Murdock in street clothes or Daredevil in his early homemade black suit. When the series dropped on April 10, 2015, fans had to wait through almost the entire series before getting a glimpse of his superhero costume in the climax of the final episode. Of course, impatient viewers could just skip right to the end if they wanted to, as all 13 episodes were released at the same time.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man

Few real-world events got Marvel fans as excited on the day it was announced that Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures had struck a deal to allow Spider-Man to join the MCU. The unprecedented teaming up of the two rival studios would see Marvel producing a new film for the web-slinger and Sony allowing Spider-Man to appear in MCU movies. It was then announced that Spider-Man would make his MCU debut in "Captain America: Civil War," and anticipation over his reveal couldn't have been hotter. 

Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige made several comments about what kind of character this new Spidey might be, what his suit might look like, and what role he would play in the movie. But fans still wanted to see for themselves and could hardly contain their enthusiasm for Spider-Man's first MCU appearance, which they'd finally get when a final trailer for the film landed in March. The trailer closes with Spider-Man triumphantly swinging into the frame and stealing Captain America's shield with a "thwip" of his webbing. He announces himself as much to the audience as to the Avengers, saying calmly, "Hello everyone."

The title of Avengers: Endgame

It's pretty amazing to realize, but the reveal that prompted some of the wildest speculations, rumor mill spinning, and clue searching in an upcoming Marvel movie wasn't a storyline or character but a title. Never has the name of a film been so hotly debated and discussed like the name of the fourth "Avengers" film. Fans looked for cryptic clues in Instagram posts from the film's directing duo, and the Russo's themselves dropped careful hints that had fans viewing and re-viewing the previous movie for something — anything — that might tell them the name of the then-upcoming mega-blockbuster. Because of the secretive nature of the film's title, many assumed the title itself might spoil the movie, leading to even more fan theories about who the villain might be and what new character might make their debut.

In the end, when the first trailer to the film was released in December of 2018, months ahead of the film's release, the trailer ended with the title revealed. When the name "Avengers: Endgame" popped up, fans reacted the same way they reacted to the first look at Black Panther or Spider-Man — with dropped jaws and "wows" abound.

Smart Hulk

Prior to "Avengers: Infinity War," Marvel was careful not to show a Hulked-out Bruce Banner (except for a digitally altered scene that showed the jade giant running alongside the heroes in Wakanda). It was a clever ruse to keep fans guessing the character's story arc in a film that would ultimately see Banner unable to change into the Hulk. But one look at some of the film's toy packaging revealed that at least at one point, the Hulk would make an appearance, so fans suspected it was just a matter of time before Banner and the Hulk settled their differences.

In the lead-up to the "Infinity War" sequel "Endgame," images leaked of the Hulk in a specialized suit alongside the rest of the team, and rumors began swirling that the merged version of Banner and the Hulk from the comics — once dubbed "Professor Hulk" — would make his debut in the film. That he wasn't featured in any of the trailers for the movie left fans eagerly awaiting his first scenes in the film, which came at a diner where Captain America and Ant-Man attempt to recruit him for their "Time Heist."


Another original Avenger who was conspicuously absent from "Avengers: Infinity War" was Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye. It felt like the character was once again getting the short stick, and many fans wondered if the producers had it out for Clint Barton. But Marvel made it clear that wasn't the case. Notably, Joe and Anthony Russo said he would not only appear in the sequel, "Avengers: Endgame," but he would also play a critical role, and his absence from the first film would be explained.

Anticipation was high for Clint's appearance in the sequel, with fans turning his absence from "Infinity War" into a running gag. Over a year before the movie's release, rumors began circulating that he might appear not just as Hawkeye but also as Ronin, a violent vigilante hero from the comics that Barton had once suited up as. The talk excited fans, sending them into speculation mode and considering what may have prompted his identity switch from superhero archer to deadly swordsman. They'd get their first glimpse of the ninja persona in the first trailer for "Endgame" and learn more about his time as Ronin in his own Disney+ series.


When "WandaVision" was first announced, it was anyone's guess what the story might be. But one question was on everybody's lips: Could we see the return of Wanda's brother Quicksilver, who died in 2015's "Age of Ultron"? Her reality-warping powers from the comics meant the series could see her bring him back her brother played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and fan speculation went into overdrive. But fans were even more startled when it was announced that Evan Peters — who had played a different version of Quicksilver in Fox's "X-Men" movies — would appear in the series, creating a veritable frenzy in the fandom

With Fox having been acquired by Disney a year before, could this signal a merging of the universes, with Peters reprising his role? Or was the actor simply playing a new character? Fans waited with bated breath to find out, and when he appeared in the series' sixth episode as Pietro, they went bonkers. But when it was revealed this wasn't actually her dead brother but instead a mind-controlled resident of Westview who simply looked like Fox's Quicksilver, it was clear this was just a red herring.


As the first season of "Loki" began airing, nobody was quite sure who the villain would be — if any — beyond the variant of Loki himself, who was on the run from the Time Variance Authority. But fans had their suspicions that someone else behind the curtain was a bigger threat than Sylvie. All signs pointed to Kang the Conqueror, a character rumored to be making an appearance in upcoming Marvel films and whose vague image had been spotted in early episodes. As the series progressed, fans were anxious to see if their theories would prove correct or if they were once again barking up the wrong tree.

With the last few episodes, however, it became obvious to most that Kang was on his way, and actor Jonathan Majors — already cast as Kang for "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" — would play the character late in the series. Entering the final episode, as Loki and Sylvie entered the abode of "He Who Remains," fans were on the edge of their seat waiting for the time-traveling Marvel supervillain to make his long-awaited first appearance.

The new Captain America

With Steve Rogers retired at the conclusion of "Avengers: Endgame" after passing his shield on to the Falcon, it may have been expected that Sam Wilson would become Captain America straight away. Yet when "The Falcon And The Winter Soldier" was announced, fans wondered if there might be a fight for the shield. But as the series moved on, fans soon understood the real story was Wilson slowly coming around to accept the awesome responsibility of becoming the next Captain America.

Coming to its climax, fans began to suspect they might see Wilson don a live-action version of his costume from the comics, with a red, white, and blue Falcon costume and a star on his chest like his former mentor. Though toys released to stores spoiled the unveiling for some, the moment when Falcon came crashing through a window clad in America's colors stood as one of the most triumphant moments of the series.

The Kingpin

Not since the debut of the MCU's Spider-Man has the reveal of a character been as eagerly anticipated. When the "Hawkeye" series was announced to include the character of Echo, many wondered if her origin — having been raised by Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) in the comics — might remain intact. As the debut of the series got closer, rumors of Vincent D'Onofrio's return as Kingpin began to circulate. The rumored appearance in the series had reached a fever pitch following a potential tease in the third episode, where a character known only as "Uncle" was heard chuckling — and sounded an awful lot like D'Onofrio in a reprisal of his role as Fisk from the "Daredevil" Netflix series years before.

Of course, when Kevin Fiege himself announced that Charlie Cox — the actor who starred opposite D'Onofrio in the Netflix series — would indeed return at some point in the future, fans believed Kingpin's return in the final episodes of "Hawkeye" became an absolute certainty. In the series' fifth episode, those beliefs became reality when we finally got a brief glimpse of the Kingpin of Crime, once again played by Vincent D'Onofrio. But whether this is the same character or a different variant still remains to be seen.

No Way Home guest stars

It had been over two years of theories, detective work, and sleuthing, but despite repeated emphatic denials from the likes of Charlie Cox and Andrew Garfield (oh, poor Andrew Garfield), fans were absolutely convinced that "Spider-Man: No Way Home" wouldn't just feature villains from past Spider-Man movies but other heroes as well. From supposed leaked images of Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire suited up on set — that were claimed to be faked, and then the fake claims claimed to be bogus — it had almost become a joke that the two previous Spider-Men wouldn't appear in the film.

And let's not forget the rumors that Daredevil – played by Netflix series star Charlie Cox — would make his long-awaited big-screen debut. These rumors heated up after an image leaked out that reportedly depicted him sitting with Peter Parker, Aunt May, and Happy Hogan. Ever since the ending of "Far From Home," fans have speculated that Murdock could act as Parker's attorney now that his identity was public knowledge, and they were convinced that this and other cameos were happening. Spoiler alert: they did.