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In its near 11-year existence, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown into a vast big screen tapestry populated with great actors, from burgeoning stars to esteemed character actors to some of the most honored names in the industry. The number of Oscar winners and nominees that have been drawn to this comic book movie franchise numbers in the dozens. In short, the MCU has no problem attracting talent, and those actors paired with amazing characters have been a big part of the MCU’s success.
As Marvel moves to its next Phase post-Avengers: Endgame, the assumption is that we will be losing at least some, if not many, of the actors that have been the faces of this universe. We are still in the dark about who that will be, as we are about what the future holds in Phase 4 and beyond. But needless to say it is a sad prospect to lose the actors and characters that we’ve fallen in love with over the years.
Fortunately, Marvel has already begun casting for its future films, and past is proving to be prologue as Marvel is going after incredible actors to populate its universe in the years to come. Take a look below to see some of the top-tier talent that is either attached or in talks to join the MCU in Phase 4.
He’s been rumored to be in the running to don Batman’s cowl over the years, but regardless of whether that happens, Jake Gyllenhaal will soon be donning Mysterio’s fishbowl in this summer’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. The acclaimed actor and Oscar nominee for his role in Brokeback Mountain plays Mysterio, real name Quentin Beck, who appears to have some serious powers in the sequel film.
Yet, while the character is traditionally part of Spider-Man’s iconic rogues gallery, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio appears to be a good guy in the trailer for Far From Home, helping fight off the Elementals. Of course, as a master of illusion, trickery and misdirection, he may be the villain behind the curtain. Either way it should give Jake Gyllenhaal plenty to chew on. If anyone is up to the challenge of following Michael Keaton’s menacing Vulture, it’s the actor from Nightcrawler.
Florence Pugh just made a splash as Paige in Fighting with My Family and will continue her breakout 2019 with roles in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and in writer-director Ari Aster’s Hereditary follow-up Midsommar. This rising star will follow that up when she stars opposite Scarlett Johansson in the long-awaited Black Widow movie.
According to some reports, the spy action thriller will see Florence Pugh play a spy on the same level as Scarlett Johansson’s character and likely her moral opposite. We’re used to seeing Black Widow punching above her weight against aliens and such, so it will be cool to see her facing someone who equals her in skill and is essentially her mirror. Florence Pugh showed she is up for a physical role in Fighting with My Family and Marvel was savvy to bring her into the MCU while she’s on the rise.
He’s best known for his work on TV, but O-T Fagbenle may be jumping in to the blockbuster pond in a big way because he is in talks to join the cast of the MCU’s Black Widow solo film, according to THR. Like the plot, O-T Fagbenle’s potential role is still being kept under wraps, but he would be another great addition to a cast that is already looking stacked.
Most audiences probably know O-T Fagbenle for his role as June/Offred’s husband Luke on The Handmaid’s Tale. He shared a SAG ensemble nomination with the rest of the cast of the Hulu show in both 2018 and 2019. He also had a role in HBO’s Looking and starred in the crime drama series The Interceptor, the latter of which saw him play a customs officer who joined a top-secret narcotics unit. That's solid prep for starring in a spy movie.
David Harbour is becoming a regular in comic book movies in recent years. After his role in Suicide Squad, David Harbour will next be seen this weekend rocking a pair of horns in the Hellboy reboot. It seems David Harbour is trying to hit for the comic book movie cycle because the fan favorite, Golden Globe-nominated star of Stranger Things is joining Marvel’s Black Widow movie (although he’s not saying much).
It’s a mystery who David Harbour will play in the film that will follow Scarlett Johansson’s KGB spy-turned-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent-turned-Avenger. Although he is best known as a good guy thanks to Stranger Things, David Harbour could also play a pretty menacing baddie. In Cinemax’s beautifully brutal and underrated Banshee, he had a small role as a mysterious and frightening handler and torturer. Whatever he plays in Black Widow, the movie is elevated with his presence.
The last name attached to Black Widow is Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz, who was nominated at this past Academy Awards for her role in last year’s The Favourite. Although she isn’t signed on yet, signs are looking good that this talented actress could join the MCU in what has been described as a “key role.” That is very intriguing and raises the exciting possibility of seeing Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson playing off one another.
Whatever that role is, Rachel Weisz is undoubtedly up to the task. The actress has played in serious fare like Disobedience and The Constant Gardener, and popcorn movies, like The Mummy films and the comic book adaptation Constantine. The idea of the actress who played the crafty Lady Sarah in The Favourite in a spy film is quite the prospect and will hopefully be more than a one-off MCU appearance.
She’s been in the video game-based Tomb Raider movies and in the comic book movie Wanted, and now action star and acclaimed actress Angelina Jolie is finally joining a superhero movie, Marvel’s The Eternals. The Oscar-winning actress hasn’t done a ton of onscreen acting in recent years, which could be a good sign for The Eternals that she was drawn to it. Angelina Jolie is a magnetic presence and huge asset to anything she is a part of.
The actress has proven her action chops many times. She can play serious and grounded roles and she also relishes the ‘out there’ characters like in Beowulf and Maleficent. I expect she may get to have fun doing the latter in The Eternals. We don’t know what role Jolie is in talks to play, but some suspect it could be the ultra-powerful Eternal Sersi (not to be confused with Cersei).
Joining Angelina Jolie in The Eternals is Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani. The Oscar-nominated co-writer of The Big Sick is in negotiations to join Marvel’s next cosmic franchise in an undisclosed role that would without question be his most high-profile part yet. Kumail Nanjiani has proven a hilarious and entertaining presence in TV and movies, and I’m very curious to see what kind of role he plays in The Eternals.
The MCU’s cosmic films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok have leaned heavily into the comedy, but the early word on The Eternals is that a millennia-spanning romance will be a big part of it. So it will be interesting to see what tone it takes and what role Kumail Nanjiani, best known for his comedy work, will play in it. Maybe his character will even cross paths with his Stuber co-star Dave Bautista’s Drax one day.
These are just seven actors from three films that may be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 slate. Needless to say this is just the tip of the iceberg, as not only do these films need to fill out their casts, but we still have James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Doctor Strange 2, Black Panther 2 and Shang-Chi to look forward to. Given what we’ve seen so far, Marvel will continue populating its movies with incredible talent.
When we begin to learn more about what Phase 4 entails after Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, we will hopefully start to hear more casting announcements and we can begin fan casting for characters that we know are coming. This is a great start though and shows that Endgame is just the beginning.
Check out our 2019 release schedule to keep track of all this year’s biggest movies and let us know in the comments what actors you would like to see join the MCU in Phase 4.