Phase 5 is just around the corner, and with it comes a whole host of new Marvel characters set to leap from comics to film and television in 2023.
With the help of Disney+, Phase 4 became the most densely packed phase yet, introducing an assortment of new characters and squeezing an overwhelming amount of content into a much shorter timeframe.
This shorter time often did more harm than good. Many of its outings were met with mixed reception, and fans were outspoken with criticism that Marvel was putting quantity above quality. Even some of its more high-profile releases were seen as subpar.
Still, characters new to the screen, like Shang-Chi, Ms. Marvel, and Moon Knight, have already become household names among fans, but they won’t be the new kids on the block for much longer.
So here’s a breakdown of the Marvel characters set to make their MCU debut in 2023.
Honorable Mentions (Rumored)
Mephisto (Sasha Baron Cohen)
Sasha Baron Cohen may be playing the devilish Mephisto for Marvel Studios, an extra-terrestrial demon who rules Hell, titled such to exploit the humans of Earth’s belief in Satan.
The character is rumored to join the universe through Ironheart, an upcoming Disney+ project centered around Riri Williams. Many have also theorized that this links to the MCU’s highly anticipated magic vs. tech showdown, which was revealed in a new synopsis for the show.
Abigail Brand (Emilia Clarke)
Another highly speculated-upon rumor centers on Solo’s Emilia Clarke, who is said to be joining the MCU as mutant Abigail Brand. The actress has been cast and shown to appear in Secret Invasion, but it is unclear exactly who she will be playing.
In the comics, Abigail became a special agent of SWORD, a subdivision of SHEILD that MCU fans may recognize from Disney+’s Wandavision. The character plays a critical role in the comics’ version of Secret Invasion, and if she is included in the show of the same name, it will push SWORD to the forefront of Marvel storytelling.
Zeke Stane (Alden Ehrenreich)
Zane Stane, played by Alden Ehrenreich, is rumored to join Marvel Studios in 2023 as Zeke Stane, the son of Tony Stark’s rival Obidiah Stane, who dons a variation of Iron Man’s iconic armor and uses Stark technology to alter himself through cybernetics, all to seek revenge for his father’s death.
If true, Stane will supposedly make his MCU debut in the upcoming Disney+ show, Ironheart.
Ael-Dan (Zawe Ashton)
The Marvels, the sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, is set to release in theatres in July 2024. Ael-Dan, potentially played by Zawe Ashton, is rumored to be making a villainous appearance in the film. In the comics, Ael-Dan was a male Kree character, but only had a short stint in the Captain Marvel comics.
Ashton’s casting does not only mean the role has been genderswapped, but may also point to the character having an expanded role in the MCU, as opposed to the small tenure in publishing.
Krylar (Bill Murray)
Inhabitant of the sub-atomic realm called the Microverse, and steward of all assassins on Pitll Pawoob, Krylar is said to hail from the world’s oldest civilization, one which even pre-dates the age of magic and looks like he could be popping up in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Krylar only ever made one appearance in a singular issue of The Incredible Hulk comics, where he quickly met his demise at the large hands of the human mutate. He also made a small appearance in the Agents of SHIELD ABC TV series. However, Bill Murray, who appeared in the trailer for Quantumania is rumored to play the character in the upcoming film.
1.) Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors)
Kang the Conqueror is perhaps one of the most highly anticipated characters on the list. Set to play the principal antagonist in the upcoming film, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Majors’ already appeared as He-Who-Remains in 2021’s Loki season finale.
However, that first appearance was only a taster for what is to come, and it’s widely known that Kang will have a much larger role going forward, one that may even rival the iconic purple brute, Thanos.
2.) MODOK (Corey Stoll)
Following his comic debut in Tales of Suspense #93–94 1967, MODOK soon became a recurring foe for Captain America, resenting how Cap represented ‘physical perfection’.
Whilst actor Corey Stoll is only rumored to be playing the antagonist in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, merchandise from November 2022 revealed a first look at the character. It’s still unknown exactly how MODOCK will fit into the events of Quantumania, but one fan theory suggests that he may be floating around the Quantum Realm on Kang’s iconic time chair, the very object that Scott and friends might be sent to steal.
3.) Special Agent Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman)
Fans will know how important the legacy of the Falsworth name is in Marvel Comics, with several of the Falsworth family members serving as the patriotic hero, Union Jack. Sonya, however, appears to be a new character exclusive to the MCU.
Details on this new addition remain sparse, but many believe that she might have a connection to James Montgomery Falsworth, who served alongside Captain America in the Second World War as a Howling Commando. She is set to be played by legendary actress Olivia Colman, and debut in Disney+ show Secret Invasion.
4.) Rebel Skrull leader Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir)
Back in September 2022, fans got their first look at the main villain for the highly anticipated show, Secret Invasion, played by Kingsley Ben Adir.
Much like Colman’s role as Sonya, Gravik is a new character who has not appeared in any Marvel comics, and there is little to go off when trying to work out where he fits into the show and wider universe. Still, going off the single shot seen in the trailer, it seems that he may be trying to conquer Earth alongside a group of troublesome shapeshifters.
5.) Lylla (Lady Gaga)
The Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy comes to a close this year, as audiences prepare to say goodbye to this iteration of the beloved team, in a film that is said to be more mature than its predecessors.
It may be the last Guardians film for this group of space-faring heroes, but there are still new faces to meet, with the MCU finally bringing over Rocket’s love interest, Lylla, rumored to be played by none other than pop music icon Lady Gaga.
Lylla is a sapient otter and, in the comics, the heiress to the toymaking empire, Mayhem Makaniks, on the planet Halfworld, and will likely play a large role as the film is said to feature much of Rocket’s heartwrenching backstory.
6.) The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji)
Lylla won’t be the only new face in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as The High Evolutionary is also set to star enter the MCU. Played by Chukwudi Iwuji, The High Evolutionary – also known as Herbert Edgar Wyndham – is a mad scientist who aims to make the perfect evolved human by mixing animal and human DNA.
He has mastered a range of academic subjects from biology to physics and even computer science, and can even manipulate reality on a subatomic level. And this dastardly villain will supposedly have a close tie to one of the original Guardians in this final outing for the team.
7.) Adam Warlock (Will Poulter)
Fans have known of Adam Warlock’s introduction to the MCU ever since the post-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 teased the character. Still, this hasn’t slowed down excitement for the character, as he has been a hot topic amongst fans for some time now.
Warlock is a cosmic being who was created artificially, and genetically engineered to be the perfect next stage of humanity. In the comics, he is privy to his creator’s intentions and rebels against them, eventually being considered a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy crew.
8.) The Hood (Anthony Ramos)
Anthony Ramos will be playing The Hood, a mystical villain, and antagonist for the upcoming series Ironheart. The Hood was originally a petty thief until a fateful encounter with a Nisanti demon led him to gain superpowers. The character went on to become a well-known figure in the New York City underworld and even formed his own crime syndicate.
Having developed powers of invisibility and levitation through his demonic encounter, his inclusion ties into the showdown between magic and technology that was revealed in the Ironheart synopsis, which sets the stage for the character’s crucial role in the project.