Marvel’s presentation at the D23 Expo confirmed several new characters for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As expected, the studio dropped several big reveals about its plans for the near future. While no new shows or movies were unveiled, cast announcements and trailers helped shed light on what Marvel has in store for audiences in the years ahead.
D23 helped fill in some of the gaps left by its SDCC 2022 panel, which notably didn’t reveal everything about Marvel’s Multiverse Saga plans. At the expo, Marvel reaffirmed that War Machine’s Armor Wars show is on its way and officially announced its Werewolf by Night Halloween special. And in addition to showing off exclusive footage for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Marvel released trailers for major upcoming releases, such as Echo, Loki season 2, and Secret Invasion. It also dove into the casts the studio has put together for Thunderbolts and Captain America: New World Order.
What was said about Captain America 4 and Thunderbolts show that a large chunk of the content planned for the next few years is built around existing characters. The Thunderbolts roster, for instance, so far consists entirely of existing MCU characters. However, Marvel has left room for a fair number of new heroes and villains from Marvel Comics to join the MCU. Here’s all eight of the new MCU characters confirmed by Marvel at D23 Expo 2022.
Released during the D23 presentation, the Secret Invasion trailer harkens back to the events of Captain America: The First Avenger and also connects to the legacy of a lesser-known Marvel Comics superhero. It’s been confirmed that Olivia Colman is playing Sonya Falsworth, a character who is most likely related to James Montgomery Falsworth, a member of the Howling Commandos team that helped the Allies in World War II. In the comic books, the Falsworth name represents the mantle of Union Jack, the British equivalent of Captain America. The original Union Jack had multiple successors in Marvel Comics, so it makes sense that the MCU version has relatives of his own doing their part to keep the world safe. As for what she’ll be up to, it appears Sonya will be an ally to Nick Fury in the fight against the Skrulls.
According to Marvel, Kingsley Ben-Adir will play Gravik, a “rebel Skrull leader.” While it’s possible that his role will take inspiration from the Secret Invasion comics in some way, Gravik is apparently an original character for the MCU. He’s currently being positioned to be the show’s main villain, but in classic Marvel fashion, another character could end up seizing this role from him before the story wraps up. After all, twists and turns are par for the course for the MCU, especially with a show about shape-shifting aliens adept at deception.
Though Marvel had thus far avoided confirming which version it would be using, it’s been known for a while that Werewolf by Night would be joining the MCU via a Halloween special released on Disney+. Now, it’s no longer a secret that Gael Garcia Bernal will play the original version of the Marvel Comics hero, Jack Russell. In the comic books, a werewolf bite activated the curse of lycanthropy within his bloodline, forcing the character to go on a hunt for a cure. During his travels, Werewolf by Night teamed up with various Marvel superheroes and developed his own rogues’ gallery along the way. As a person who could maintain a sense of self-control even in werewolf form, Russell was able to avoid being a threat to humanity. For now, it’s unclear if the MCU’s Jack Russell will be able to share the same destiny.
Introduced in Marvel Presents #1, Ulysses Bloodstone was a C-list superhero who shared over a dozen adventures in the 1970s before meeting an untimely end. Most of his exploits actually happened off-panel, as Ulysses was an immortal who had roamed the Earth for thousands of years. After getting a fragment of a meteorite lodged in his chest, Ulysses developed superhuman abilities and discovered that he could only die if the meteorite shard – the Bloodgem – was removed. As a result of his immortality, Ulysses was able to travel across the planet for millennia, hunting down monsters and looking for the demonic entity that killed his family. Curiously, Ulysses Bloodstone has been identified as the talking zombie in the Werewolf by Night trailer. Given that he’s an undead being, it seems the MCU is poised to kill off Ulysses before his story even begins.
Decades after moving on from Ulysses Bloodstone, Marvel revived the name and used a retcon to reveal that he had a secret daughter named Elsa, whom he trained to be a deadly fighter. During her teenage years, Elsa carried on the family legacy and became a skilled monster hunter in her own right. The MCU incarnation of the character will be brought to life by Laura Donnelly, who was featured in the Werewolf by Night trailer. Like Jack Russell, Elsa has the potential to have a presence as an MCU superhero beyond just the Halloween special.
Glimpsed briefly in the Werewolf by Night trailer is a character much bigger than both of the Bloodstones and even the titular character himself. Man-Thing, who led a failed Sc-Fi Channel movie in 2005, will get a second chance at a proper live-action adaptation when he joins the MCU. Details on where he fits into the story are being kept under wraps, but it could very well tie into Man-Thing’s reputation for guarding the Nexus of All Realities in Marvel Comics. If his MCU counterpart shares the same responsibility, he could be vital to the overarching story of the Multiverse Saga. That would make sense, considering that the Nexus is a gateway to all dimensions, which could make Man-Thing a key factor in Kang’s plans in Quantumania or Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
In Marvel Comics, the Hood a.k.a. Parker Robbins was a street-level villain who emerged as a powerful crime boss. Armed with a cloak imbued with mystical properties, the Hood is a force to be reckoned with and a character who has found himself in the crosshairs of Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Hawkeye. But instead of being pitted against one of them, the MCU’s take on the Hood is set to appear opposite Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams in her Ironheart show. Marvel revealed at D23 that Robbins will be played by Anthony Ramos.
The most prominent Israeli superhero in Marvel Comics is Sabra, a mutant who made recurring appearances in the pages of The Incredible Hulk. Marvel has announced that Israeli actress Shira Haas will portray the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Sabra in Captain America: New World Order. With the movie seemingly using the Leader as its villain, Sabra’s inclusion further reinforces the notion that Captain America 4 is a Hulk story.