Sam Rockwell Returning To The MCU?

Make it happen!

By Michileen Martin | Published

sam rockwell

If there’s one thing productions like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law have all taught us, it’s that there’s no telling who Marvel Studios is going to bring back for a future project. Just as She-Hulk just brought Tim Roth back as Emil Blonsky/The Abomination–who hadn’t appeared in the MCU since 2008’s The Incredible Hulk–there’s now chatter that a villain from another not particularly well-loved Marvel movie is on the way back. Sam Rockwell isn’t copping to it, but there’s speculation he could reprise the role of Justin Hammer in the not too distant future.

In a recent interview with CinemaBlend, the Moon star was asked directly about a return to Marvel just as Tim Roth had returned in She-Hulk. Sam Rockwell responded in a way that seemed pretty desperate to change the subject:

“Did you say Tim Roth? … Is that the Hulk villain? Holy shit, that’s great. I love it. He’s on the She-Hulk one? Oh, that’s great. I gotta watch that. I don’t know. Nothing as of yet. We’ll see. I see you have a Marvel poster in your backdrop. … I’m ready, I’m ready.”

-Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell first played weapons dealer and Tony Stark wanna-be Justin Hammer in 2010’s Iron Man 2 and briefly reprised the role for Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King, which focused on Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery. Not only did the Faux-Mandarin once again pop up in last year’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but a recent report put Kingsley’s Slattery in Disney+’s upcoming Wonder Man series. If a guy who turned out to just be an actor abusing several different substances could keep coming around in Marvel, why not someone who was an actual, bonafide villain?

There’s another good reason to think Sam Rockwell is destined for a Marvel return: the upcoming miniseries Armor Wars which will be led by Don Cheadle as James Rhodes, aka War Machine. The show is named for a late eighties Iron Man comic book storyline in which Tony Stark discovers a number of different villains and heroes (e.g. Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man, The Controller) are using stolen tech he developed, and Justin Hammer is integral to the plot. While we don’t know how closely the series will follow the source material–obviously not too closely since Stark is dead in the MCU–its official description says it will likewise be about Rhodes facing “what happens when Tony Stark’s tech falls into the wrong hands.”

sam rockwell
Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2 (2010)

Of course, there’s no law that says Armor Wars the show has to likewise make Justin Hammer an important part of the plot, but his inclusion would make perfect sense. Hammer had access to stolen Stark tech long before Iron Man’s death in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. In Iron Man 2–after an armored fistfight with Stark–Rhodes brings the first suit Tony built stateside to the military, who turns it over to Hammer. It’s conceivable Sam Rockwell’s villain and his employees had enough time with the suit to reverse-engineer more of it than we know.

We don’t know anything yet about the release window for Armor Wars, but it’s possible we could see Sam Rockwell in Marvel before then. With the Ant-Man films often revolving around technological espionage, Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania could be another landing place for Rockwell. Perhaps even the upcoming Disney+ series Ironheart could prove a natural place for him to appear. Remember how everyone thought Tom Cruise would play a variant Iron Man in Doctor Strange 2 because he turned down the role in real life? Well, as noted by MovieWeb, Rockwell actually auditioned to play Stark. You never know.