Another Of The Hulk’s Biggest Villains Is Coming To Marvel

Tim Blake Nelson from The Incredible Hulk will return as The Leader in Captain America: New World Order.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Tim Blake Nelson is returning to the realm of superheroes as The Leader, more than a decade after his big screen debut in The Incredible Hulk. He originally portrayed Samuel Sterns opposite Edward Norton in the 2008 film. But since that movie was released by Universal Pictures, the actor wasn’t expected to reprise the role. Now, in an interesting twist of fate, he will return in Captain America: New World Order, the fourth Captain America movie.

Tim Blake Nelson’s return as The Leader was revealed at the D23 Expo, where the 58-year-old appeared alongside new Captain America, Anthony Mackie who said he was nervous and excited about the upcoming Marvel movie. It was also confirmed that Top Gun star Danny Ramirez, who appeared in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, will have an expanded role going forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Speaking to IGN, the 29-year-old said New World Order will be different from its predecessors because of the challenges that Sam Wilson faces.

tim blake nelson

Additionally, Julius Onah cited Tim Blake Nelson’s return as the main reason he signed on to the upcoming Marvel sequel. In an interview with ComicBook via CBR, the director gushed about the villain’s role in the fourth Captain America film. “One of the things that really drew me to this project is The Leader [who] is a man that operates from intellect,” he explained the filmmaker added that it’s great to have an adversary with an incredible intellect to really put Sam Wilson through the wringer in this story.

After discussing Tim Blake Nelson, Onah described Captain America: New World Order as a paranoid thriller. He added that it’s a grounded adventure where everything that happens feels real and intense because of The Leader. “What Captain America is going to have to go through in this film is because he’s got an adversary who is so terrifyingly intelligent,” the director continued. The movie, which falls into Phase Five in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is scheduled to be released on May 3, 2024.

Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, The Leader made his comic book debut in 1964’s Tales to Astonish #62. Samuel Sterns (played by Tim Blake Nelson on screen) worked as a janitor in Boise, Idaho when he was exposed to gamma radiation. Due to the exposure, he mutated into a green-skinned, super-intelligent entity who eventually called himself the Leader. Embarking on a career of crime, the supervillain is repeatedly foiled by the Hulk, who overcomes all his evil schemes, as well as his artificial henchmen known as the Humanoids.

In later issues, Sterns was transformed further as the gamma radiation caused his cranium to change into the shape of an oversized brain. As part of the Intelligencia, he is an integral character in the “Hulked Out Heroes” storyline. He was also one of the featured characters in the “Marvel NOW!” Thunderbolts relaunch. Since then, the character has appeared in various forms of media, including television series and video games. Portrayed by Tim Blake Nelson, The Leader was ranked as IGN’s 63rd Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time in 2009.