If Spider-Man is indeed gone from the MCU, he takes Norman Osborn with him, and that means the Dark Avengers movie is dead in the water, right? Not necessarily, as two classic villains could fill the void with some twists on the story.
For months, I’ve been preaching to invest in Norman Osborn and Dark Avengers keys. In light of the Sony/Disney breakup, you may want to take a hiatus from that. In fact, essentially all of my MCU theories need rethinking now, since I pictured Norman taking Thanos’ place as the linchpin of Phase Five and beyond.
There’s always the chance that Sony and Disney can work things out, and Sony has said they are hoping that’s what eventually happens. Granted I am not privy to the inner workings of the contracts, rights, and negotiations that go into bringing a Sony-licensed character to the MCU, but I would imagine that Disney/Marvel would be apprehensive about hinging so much on a Sony character even if a deal is struck.
With all that being said, where does that leave the MCU? From the way I viewed the signs, it appeared that it was headed toward the Dark Avengers, but that’s hard to pull off without Norman Osborn playing a key role. That is unless the MCU has another megalomaniacal evil genius with Tony Stark-level assets. Who else could fill that role?
This would be the most fun replacement for Norman Osborn, but it would take Marvel straying far away from the source material.
As I wrote yesterday in “Sony Pulls Spider-Man from the MCU, and That’s Not So Bad,” Marvel Studios adding the Fox toys to its sandbox helps soften the blow of losing Spider-Man and his family of characters. That gives them access to all the characters from both the Fantastic Four and X-Men franchises, and that includes Doctor Doom.
Obviously, he would need to be retooled from his classic origin for it to work, but he could stay the Latverian despot and still head up the Dark Avengers. However, instead of Doom suiting up as Iron Patriot, Marvel could debut the Infamous Iron Man by taking over Stark’s Hall of Armor or creating a nano tech suit of his own.
Thunderbolt is already established in the MCU as the Secretary of Defense. In Captain America: Civil War, he and Stark had plenty of animosity which could be used to explain Thunderbolt not only having access to the Hall of Armor but stepping into the Iron Patriot suit, which debuted onscreen in Iron Man 3. Civil War also gives rise to a motivation for Thunderbolt to establish his own government-licensed brand of Avengers as he was a proponent of the accords from that film. All of this could be used to put him in Norman’s role as the mastermind behind the Dark Avengers and eventually transform himself into Red Hulk.
Certainly both Doctor Doom and Thunderbolt Ross are long shots for leading the Dark Avengers, but with the right tooling either could work and make for intriguing Avengers villains. Still, Norman makes the most sense as Iron Patriot and would be the best choice for Dark Avengers. While I’m fine with Spider-Man leaving the MCU, I wish he didn’t have to take Norman with him.