The latest buzz around 2024’s Captain America: New World Order has Marvel Studios pursuing Oscar-winning actress Jessica Chastain for the “main villain” of the piece. While we have no idea if the rumor is true, we couldn’t help but speculate on which villain Chastain could be playing if it is. Given the film’s rumored plot centers around the discovery of Adamantium putting the world on the brink of war, some pretty intriguing possibilities quickly present themselves. Which of these 7 big bads could Chastain be playing? Probably none of them, but it was too much fun to pass up.
Operating under the assumption that Chastain is joining the MCU in a major, recurring, villainous role, we’re shooting the most ridiculous shot first and the logic isn’t as crazy as it may seem. If New World Order really does introduce Adamantium to the MCU, it’s likely to restart the Weapons Plus program (did it ever really stop?) and Nathaniel Essex has some pretty interesting ties to the program in the comics. Essentially immortal thanks to his work with cloning, Essex has been around since the mid-1800s and has always been interested in the study of genetics. It was the discovery of his abandoned labs during World War II that lead to the creation of the Weapons Plus Program and, over the years, Essex revisited the different iterations of the program in disguise. Sinister’s endless array of clone bodies means that he’s appeared as a woman more than once over the years under aliases such as Claudine Renko and Kate Kildare. A stretch and a longshot for sure, but with the mutant genome now present in the MCU it does seem like it’s only a matter of time before one of Marvel’s most fabulous villains enters the picture.
Another major, recurring villain and one that’s a little more probable for Chastain is Dr. Karla Sofen. While most fans would associate her with Captain Marvel, the character first appeared in Captain America #192. Though she later developed superpowers through exposure to the Kree Moonstone, Sofen’s psychiatric manipulation of her patients makes her dangerous and an interesting option for Chastain. Thaddeus Ross’s emergence as a villain in Captain America: New World Order is an interesting proposition because while he’s a major pain in the ass and a frustrating antagonist, he’s hardly been portrayed as an outright villain in the MCU. Interestingly enough, he and Dr. Sofen have a bit of a comic book history that includes her hypnotizing Ross. Having Ross manipulated by Sofen while Sterns orchestrates things behind the scenes seems a relatively believable scenario for Ross’s perceived villainy. Additionally, joining the MCU as Dr. Sofen for Cap 4 would also allow Chastain’s role to evolve over time. It’s not like everyone on the original Thunderbolts team is going to live forever and Moonstone would give Carol Danvers a powerful, Earth-bound foe down the road.
A classic Captain America character who always had a complicated relationship with Steve Rogers, Rachel Leighton would make for an interesting double-agent type of character for Chastain to play in Captain America: New World Order. Leighton’s a sexy, seductive merc whose mission to Tiamut could have her crossing paths with Sam Wilson for whom she could cause all sorts of problems. Like Wilson, Leighton possesses no superpowers but is a highly-skilled fighter which would put Chastain in familiar territory given her work on the action thriller Ava. In the comics, she and Steve Rogers did a lot of flirting before ending up in a romantic relationship that jeopardized them both, something that could work well with Sam has he steps into a larger role as a leader.
Hydra is never really gone and if they are to reemerge, it should be in a Captain America project. One of Marvel Comics most complex and fascinating female villains, taking on the role of Viper would allow Chastain to showcase her considerable range and become part of the MCU for multiple projects. Everything about Viper screams that she’s exactly the type of character to emerge from the shadows in a project subtitled New World Order. If Adamantium is truly at the center of the plot, Hydra would absolutely be involved in any efforts to take possession of it. Viper’s presence in the film could be a little nod to Secret Empire, one of Marvel’s most controversial comic events, and Viper/Hydra has to be a top choice for the individual/organization that takes control of Tiamut by the end of the film. While rumors have Tiamut being referred to as the island of Genosha by the time Thunderbolts rolls around, remember that Hydra has its own island as well and it resides near enough to Indian Ocean in the comics that the little change wouldn’t really matter. Hail Hydra!
Like Hydra, A.I.M. would certainly come back out of the shadows in order to get their hands on Adamantium and they have their own history of owning a cool, bad-guy island. A.I.M. has played no real role in the MCU since Aldrich Killian ate shit in Iron Man 2, but they are far too important of an organization in the comics to disappear forever. Under new leadership from their Scientist Supreme, Monica Rappaccini, an organization such as A.I.M. would undoubtedly want to investigate the corpse of a Celestial. What could they do with their findings? Build a Super-Adaptoid, of course.
Dr. Diedre Wentworth/Superia
Similar to Monica Rappaccinni and Viper, Diedre Wentworth would be in it to get control of Tiamut and the Adamantium, however, her goal might be a touch different: Superia would use Adamantium to lead her army of Femizons to subjugate the men of the world to her rule. The Femizon leader’s misandry would put her at odds with a self-imagined alpha male like Thaddeus Ross and allow Sam to really stretch his empathic wings. Superia is another classic Cap villain who could end up causing more problems down the line.
Dr. Valerie Cooper
While not traditionally a villain, Cooper makes sense as a potential role for Chastain because of her ties to the United States government. Ross is rumored to be the President of the United States by the time Captain America: New World Order rolls around and, in the comics, Dr. Cooper worked for the NSA where her specialty was mutants. Dr. Cooper was concerned that the continuing emergence of powered mutants caused a national security threat to the United States and believed a new “arms race” was at hand. Given the Israeli mutant known as Sabra will be played in the film by Shira Haas, New World Order could be the starting point of the MCU version of the “mutant arms race” and Cooper could be working on putting together the U.S.’s own government-sanctioned mutant super team, the kind of thing a Sokovia Accords’ champion like Ross would get behind. Cooper worked on a device that would allow her to detect mutant powers, was a key member of the Commission on Superhuman Activities that claimed the title of “Captain America” belonged to the U.S. government and “fired” Steve Rogers from the job. With Sam just picking up the mantle of Captain America, having the U.S. government claim the title and fire him from the job would certainly be a rude welcome. Cooper also went on to head the Office of National Emergency (O*N*E*) which essentially served as a mutant oversight and management office. Again, while Cooper has never been a true villain, she could serve as a worthy antagonist to Sam and his allies.
If we were betting, we’d take the field over Chastain ending up playing any one of these seven characters, but they all certainly present interesting possibilities for the Oscar winner.