When the news broke over the weekend that Marvel had added a new cast member to the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, it's fair to say that the news was...well received. After all, if there's one studio that's consistently managed to get its casting right over the past half-decade or so, it's Marvel.
Even better, the actor in question - Daniel Brühl - is a pretty darned fantastic German character actor - who shone both in modern classics like Goodbye Lenin and Inglourious Basterds, as well as in the more recent Rush and The Fifth Estate.
The thing is, though, there's one other crucial detail...
Brühl's Character, and the Timing of His Appearance, Might Just Completely Change How the MCU Works...Forever.
Why is that, though?
Well, it all comes down to who Brühl looks set to be playing.
When Marvel announced the actor's casting, Kevin Feige had only this to say:
“With Daniel's ability to deliver intense, nuanced performances, we knew we had found yet another great actor to share the screen with some of our biggest heroes...”
Which, on its own, may or may not suggest that Brühl is set to play a villain - but reports from the usually reliable Deadline and Variety soon confirmed that he was, indeed, set to play a villain in the MCU.
So, Brühl's Playing a Villain - But Which One?
Well, while Deadline only initially confirmed confirmed that Brühl would, in fact, be a bad guy - which led most of us to the assumption that he'd be the classic Cap villain Baron Zemo - Variety is now reporting that Brühl...
"is not the main villain in Captain America: Civil War but could potentially be the top menace in Marvel’s Doctor Strange."
Which, if true, means that he is likely to be playing a villain from Doctor Strange's back catalog of evildoers, rather than Cap's (sorry, Baron Zemo...), who just happens to also feature in Captain America: Civil War.
Which, in turn, means...
Brühl Is Almost Certainly Playing Baron Mordo
Otherwise known as 'that guy who fights Doctor Strange a lot, and has a really German-sounding name' (Baron Karl Amadeus Mordo).
Which makes him the most likely comic-book candidate for Brühl to play.
The thing is, though, with Brühl appearing in Cap 3 before Doctor Strange...
That Marks a Fundamental Change in the Way Marvel Does Things
Up Until Now, Marvel Has Never Introduced Their Villains in Previous Movies
Or, rather, it has, but only in post-credits sequences.
Now, though, it seems that Marvel is set to introduce its villains in the exact same way it's begun to introduce its heroes: in earlier movies.
Case in point, Andy Serkis, who seems set to play Ulysses Klaw in Avengers: Age of Ultron:
The important part there? Klaw is a classic opponent of The Black Panther, and a key part of his origin story - which means we're seemingly going to be introduced to the villain in Age of Ultron, before he then goes on to be the antagonist in Black Panther.
Similarly, if Daniel Brühl is indeed playing Baron Mordo, it looks as though he'll be appearing in a smaller role within Captain America: Civil War, before becoming the main bad guy in Doctor Strange.
Now, Compare That to Previous Marvel Villains...
- Iron Man's Ironmonger first appears in that movie, as do Iron Man 2's Whiplash and Justin Hammer in the sequel. Similarly, in Iron Man 3, both The Mandarin and Aldrich Killian make their first MCU appearances in the movie itself.
- Loki makes his first appearance in Thor, becoming a villain during the narrative, and Malekith is a new character in Thor: The Dark World.
- Captain America introduces The Red Skull and Arnim Zola within the story - and The Winter Soldier is never mentioned before Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with Bucky being presumed dead. Even Hydra are completely changed from their appearance in the first movie, with the links between the two barely visible, and Arnim Zola was given a far smaller role than the previous installment.
- In The Avengers, the Chitauri hadn't previously reared their ugly heads, and Loki had already been a central villain in a previous movie.
- And, in Guardians of the Galaxy, the only villain to have appeared earlier - Thanos - was previously simply a post-credits tease, and largely lingered in the background - much like The Collector.
Marvel Has Always Assumed That Their Villains Needed to be Self-Contained
Now, though, Marvel is treating its villains differently...
Marvel seems to be planning on introducing its villains in the same way it originally introduced lesser known heroic characters like The Black Widow, Hawkeye, Agent Coulson, Nick Fury, and Maria Hill in the movies - slowly, and in supporting roles, until audiences begin to care about them as much as the bigger name leads.
But What Does That Mean?
Well, more than anything else, it seems to suggest that Marvel has a whole lot more confidence in the strength of its connected movie universe than they did before - trusting that fans who watch, say, Doctor Strange, will already have watched Captain America: Civil War, meaning a villain can be set up in a previous outing without causing confusion.
It also, though, suggests that the MCU is about to become a lot more like the comics, with villains (and heroes) able to switch between franchises, connecting the movies together in the process.
Which, in turn, seems to suggest that the MCU is now heading full throttle in the direction of connectivity, opening up a whole universe of crossover possibilities - and dramatically increasing the odds of us seeing some other major Marvel characters appearing in movies like Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Inhumans - and even in TV adaptations like Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Which is pretty darned awesome, if you ask me...
What do you guys think, though?
Is Marvel headed towards an even more connected MCU?