During the MCU’s Phases 4 and 5, Marvel Studios has been focused on finding replacements for the original Avengers team. The Avengers first formed in the MCU during 2012’s The Avengers, coming together under the tutelage of SHIELD Director Nick Fury to battle Loki and his army of Chitauri. Initially comprising Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk, many other heroes have operated as Avengers since the team’s start in the MCU’s Phase 1. Avengers: Endgame saw members of the original Avengers team sacrifice their lives or retire, creating the opportunity for new heroes to follow in their footsteps.
With the departures of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson in Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios had to find new heroes to replace three of their most high-profile characters (Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Natasha Romanoff, respectively). Since the start of the MCU’s Phase 4 and the Multiverse Saga, many new heroes have been introduced, both in theaters and on Disney+. While several of these heroes are disconnected from the original Avengers, a selection of them have debuted at the perfect time to replace their superhero predecessors. With the MCU’s New Avengers set to form in Phase 6’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, these heroes could complete the team.
9 John Walker, A.K.A. US Agent (Previously Captain America)
Following the end of Avengers: Endgame, which saw Steve Rogers hand the Captain America mantle and shield to Sam Wilson, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+ saw Wilson donate the shield to a museum, refusing to become Captain America. The United States government had other ideas, however, as they employed Army Captain John Walker, portrayed by Wyatt Russell, to become the new Captain America in the wake of Rogers’ retirement. Walker’s questionable moral compass marked his downfall, however, meaning he didn’t operate as Captain America for long, though he will make his next appearance as the MCU’s US Agent in Thunderbolts.
8 Sam Wilson, A.K.A. Captain America
After John Walker was stripped of his title as Captain America, Sam Wilson finally chose to embrace his new identity as Steve Rogers’ successor. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s series finale saw Wilson sport a new Wakandan-made costume and introduce himself to the world as the new Captain America. With no superpowers to speak of, Wilson will be a much more grounded Captain America, carrying a heavy weight on his shoulders as he balances fighting for his country with his cultural identiry. Anthony Mackie is set to make his big-screen debut as Captain America in Phase 5’s Captain America: New World Order.
7 Yelena Belova
Florence Pugh debuted as Natasha Romanoff’s surrogate sister in 2021’s Black Widow, a retrospective MCU story set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Raised in the Red Room just like her sister, Pugh’s Yelena Belova was broken free from General Dreykov’s mind control and set to work helping Romanoff take down the corrupt institution and free other Black Widow assassins worldwide. Black Widow’s post-credits scene revealed that Belova had fallen under the employ of Valentina, who sent her to kill Clint Barton in Hawkeye on Disney+, though she eventually changed her mind. Yelena Belova will make her next appearance in the MCU’s Thunderbolts.
6 Kate Bishop
Inspired by Hawkeye’s actions during the Battle of New York, Kate Bishop took up archery and fight training from an early age, aspiring to become a hero just like her often-underestimated idol. Phase 4’s Hawkeye saw Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton take Bishop, played by MCU newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, under his wing in the fight against the Tracksuit Mafia, Maya Lopez, a.k.a. Echo, and Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin. By the end of the series, it seemed that Barton had officially passed on the Hawkeye mantle to Kate Bishop, teasing her future as a potential Avenger – or, more likely, a member of the MCU’s Young Avengers.
5 Jane Foster, A.K.A. The Mighty Thor
After being absent for Thor: Ragnarok, Natalie Portman returned to the MCU during Phase 4’s Thor: Love & Thunder, reprising her role of Jane Foster from previous Thor films. Whereas before Foster had been relegated to Thor’s love-interest and scientist ally, Love & Thunder saw her wield Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, and gain the powers of Thor, being dubbed the Mighty Thor. Unfortunately, Love & Thunder also saw Foster lose her battle with cancer, but the film’s post-credits scene saw her reunite with Idris Elba’s Heimdall in Valhalla, so there’s a possibility that she could return in the MCU’s future, particularly since Chris Hemsworth’s future in the MCU is now uncertain.
4 Jennifer Walters, A.K.A. She-Hulk
During the MCU’s Phase 4, Marvel Studios experimented with new genres in their projects, and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was one of the best examples of this, bringing a legal comedy sitcom to the MCU for the first time. Tatiana Maslany led the way as Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner’s cousin in the MCU, became She-Hulk after being exposed to her cousin’s blood. Mark Ruffalo returned for the Disney+ series, tutoring Walters on how to be a Hulk. She-Hulk’s instantaneous control over her newfound ability – and tendency to break the fourth wall – makes her a very exciting addition to the MCU and possibly teases her replacing her cousin.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law didn’t only introduce Bruce Banner’s cousin to the MCU, but also his son. Skaar, portrayed briefly by Wil Deusner, is the Hulk’s son from his time exiled on Sakaar between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Thor: Ragnarok. Not much is known about Skaar in the MCU, but in Marvel Comics, he debuted in 2008’s World War Hulk event, which could be adapted for the MCU. Skaar’s existence creates the opportunity for the more emotional sides of the Hulk’s MCU journey to be explored. Skaar is also featured as a member of Marvel Comics’ Dark Avengers, so he could have a bright future in the MCU.
2 Riri Williams, A.K.A. Ironheart
In Marvel Comics, Riri Williams is taken under the wing of Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, and trained to be an armored hero in her own right, Ironheart. Dominique Thorne debuted as Williams in Phase 4’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but since Stark sacrificed himself in Avengers: Endgame, she will have to pave her own way as Iron Man’s legacy hero. After helping the Wakandans and the MCU’s new Black Panther, Shuri, in the battle against Namor and the Talokanil, Williams is expected to return in Ironheart, her solo Disney+ series. This could set up a larger role for the MCU’s new Iron Man-like hero in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
1 Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine
Perhaps one of the MCU’s most intriguing new characters is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, portrayed brilliantly by the charismatic Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Valentina debuted in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, recruiting John Walker’s US Agent for an unknown purpose, before later appearing in Black Widow as the mysterious employer of Yelena Belova. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Valentina was revealed to be not only the ex-wife of Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross but also the Director of the CIA. Louis-Dreyfus is set to return as the benefactor of the MCU’s Thunderbolts in Phase 5, seemingly mirroring Nick Fury’s role with the MCU’s original Avengers team.