The world of Marvel comics is so full that it can be a little overwhelming at times. In over 75 years, Marvel has written about 40,000 comics and has created about 800 superheroes. Even the most die-hard fan couldn’t come close to naming them all. Most of these characters will never get any screen time in Hollywood, but Marvel studios is doing its darndest to get as many as they can on the big screen. Comic fans rush to the theaters every month to watch the latest Marvel movie. The first few viewings are for pure enjoyment, but the next several are to scour the background. Marvel is known for including loads of Easter eggs in their films, so everyone is trying to spot something that has gone unnoticed.
One of the huge treats for comic fans is hearing about or seeing a lesser-known superhero in the background. With so many mutants running around, a watchful eye can spot a superhero here or there that would otherwise be hidden. Some of the heroes and villains on this list are nothing more than passing Easter eggs, while others are full-blown characters, just not yet in their “super” form.
What we’ve done is collect the best of the supers that have been camouflaged in Marvel films. Maybe they were parading around as ordinary folk and people overlooked them or maybe they were hidden in the background. Either way, we want to highlight these hidden gems for you for the next several times you watch. Here are 15 amazing superheroes you never knew were secretly in Marvel films
15. Doc Samson – The Hulk
Sure, you know Leonard Samson (Ty Burrell) was in The Hulk. He was dating Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) for a short while. But, since we never saw a true sequel to the Ang Lee film, we never got to see if he would ever get the superpowers he gets in the comics. For all you uninitiated plebs, Doc Samson tries to cure Bruce Banner of his gamma radiation infliction. Well, he did cure Bruce Banner of his infliction, but then he went and exposed himself to some of it and got his own superpowers. Like the legend, Samson’s power is proportionate to the length of his hair in the comics, the longer the stronger as they always say. They’ve actually never said that. Anyhoo, in the comics, Samson has a long and turbulent road trying to cure Banner while battling his own demons. Who knows if we’ll ever get another solo Hulk movie, but, if they do, it wouldn’t be a bad bet to say that Doc Samson will make another appearance.
14. Nova – Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
In the amazing movie, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) has a little love crush on a US Army Captain named Frankie Raye (Beau Garrett). Fans of the comic might recognize this little lady as Nova. For those who don’t know, before Raye became Nova, she was Johnny’s girlfriend. She had a weird fear of fire that was later found to be because she had a repressed fire ability herself. It was explained that her father is Phineas Horton, the guy who created the original Human Torch (more on that later). He accidentally gave his daughter the same powers that the Human Torch had. Technically, since Johnny Storm took over as the Human Torch, Frankie was dating her own brother. Gross. Like a few of the characters on this list, we’ll never know if they were meant to be revealed as “super” in a later film because there was no sequel.
13. Supernova – The Guardians of the Galaxy
In the comics, Garthan Saal was a Xandarian Nova Corps before they were destroyed by Nebula. He came back from this event as Supernova, a crazed madman set on revenge. He got some bad information and it sent him on a crash course with The Avengers, so he’s good but he’s also bad, like Bon Jovi. It’s all very confusing. Either way, in the film The Guardians of the Galaxy, Saal is played by Peter Serafinowicz. He doesn’t have any powers on the big screen and he’s actually a pretty good guy. We don’t know what is going to happen in the future movies, but we won’t be surprised if some of Supernova’s traits are blended into another character.
12. The Leader – The Incredible Hulk
In The Incredible Hulk, there was a brief moment of glee for comic book fans when we saw the beginnings of a mutation. The character was Dr. Samuel Sterns, played by Tim Blake Nelson. In the film, Sterns works under the name “Mr. Blue” and he is trying to help Bruce Banner (Edward Norton). He then is asked to aid Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) in becoming “The Abomination.” During that transformation scene, Sterns suffers a head injury. Then some of The Abomination’s blood disgustingly drips right onto this new wound, causing it to swell and enlarge Sterns’ head. Now, without a sequel, some fans might not connect the dots here, but this is actually the beginning of the villain called The Leader. In the comics, The Leader is Sterns’ superform. He’s one of the Hulk’s main adversaries and he’s marked by his ginormous cranium and high level of intelligence. It looks like he was meant to be in the sequel, but sadly, we never got one. Maybe next time.
11. Caliban – X-Men: Apocalypse
Considering he speaks about himself in the third person, Caliban wasn’t really a secret in X-Men: Apocalypse, but for people who aren’t all that familiar with the character’s comic book origins, we thought we would discuss his importance. Caliban is a Morlock who has mutant tracking abilities. In the comics, Caliban becomes a member of the Horsemen under Apocalypse once his physical abilities are enhanced. Many fans expected this in the film when we first saw him, but it wasn’t to be. In the film, he is played by Tomas Lemarquis and his character runs a mutant information black market. He is protected by Psylocke until Apocalypse recruits the mutant to his team. Caliban is also noteworthy because he is set to appear in the upcoming film Logan, and will be played by Stephen Merchant. We expect he’ll have a much bigger role there.
10. Young X-Men – X-Men: First Class
When Charles Xavier uses Cerebro in X-Men: First Class, he passes by a number of unnamed mutants, many of them children. We could guess several of them, including one red-headed girl who is likely Jean Grey and boy in red glasses who is almost certainly Scott Summers/Cyclops, but there is one that the camera focuses on that there is no denying. It’s a dark-skinned girl with white hair. It has to be Storm. Why is this important? It’s not. It’s just a neat little shot of some famous X-Men who haven’t been recruited yet. They all will come into play both as teenagers and adults later on, but, for now they’re just nameless mutant Easter eggs that Xavier and Cerebro passed over.
9. Steven Strange – Spider-Man 2/Captain America: The Winter Soldier
We’ve known there was a Doctor Strange movie coming for a while, but there have been some breadcrumbs dropped in Marvel films well before those rumors. The first came in Spider-Man 2 in 2004. In nothing more than a name gag, J. Jonah Jameson and his assistant were trying to come up with a name for Doctor Octopus and one of the suggestions was Doctor Strange. JJJ likes the suggestion but says that “it’s taken.” Then, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Cap, Natasha and Sam Wilson are interrogating Agent Sitwell about a few things and they ask who’s being targeted by Hydra. One of the names that he drops is Stephen Strange. Do you know who Stephen Strange is? No one? Here’s a hint: He’s a Doctor. Still no one? Alright. They’re talking about Doctor Stephen Strange.
8. Fred Dukes – X-Men: Apocalypse
Fred Dukes is probably better known by his alias, ‘The Blob’. He was already in a Marvel film, the much-loved X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by Kevin Durand. While we’re sure everyone out there wants to discuss that film at length, we don’t much care about that version of the Blob. We’re concerned with his appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse. In a very quick shot, we see the Blob being beaten by Angel in the ring and then stretchered out. Here, he’s played by “Giant” Gustav Claude Ouimet and his time on camera is short lived. Still, it’s a cool little shot and we wanted to make sure he’s given his due.
7. Amadeus Cho – The Hulk
Even if his name was never mentioned in the Ang Lee film, The Hulk, the character credited as “computer nerd,” played by actor Martin Starr, was later revealed to be Amadeus Cho. Plenty of fans have spoken about this little cameo and talk about how smart and how helpful Cho is to Bruce Banner and The Hulk in the comics, but everyone seems to ignore the fact that Cho becomes the friggin Hulk. In The Totally Awesome Hulk series, Cho removes the Hulk from Bruce Banner and puts it into his own body, transforming him into the green monster. From there, he goes on his own adventure. It should also be noted that his mother, Helen Cho, may be in Avengers: Age of Ultron, played by Claudia Kim. It’s unclear if it’s just a coincidental name choice or if they are meant to be related.
6. Jocasta – Avengers: Age of Ultron
Okay, so maybe Jocasta doesn’t make an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but her name is mentioned and we’re taking whatever we can get. When Tony Stark is trying to choose a new A.I. to replace Jarvis, he goes through a few different options. The one that grabbed the attention of fans most is a quick, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of the name Jocasta. Now, if you don’t know, Jocasta was built by Ultron to be his wife in the comics. He used the brain patterns of Janet van Dyne or The Wasp to create her. Later, Jocasta’s disassembled and brought onto the Avengers’ side and then she goes back and forth a bit. It’s a nice little reference in a film that includes both the Avengers and Ultron, even if Stark settled on F.R.I.D.A.Y as his new assistant.
5. The Punisher – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This one is more fan theory and speculation than a confirmed cameo, but we’re including it because, like Mulder, we want to believe. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there’s a pesky yellow Penske truck that is involved in two major events. Well, one for sure and maybe two. We’re gonna go with two. The first occasion comes when Nick Fury is trying to escape some police officers. Once he clears an intersection, some cop cars try to make it though but they are smashed by a Penske truck. It might seem like nothing, but look at the truck after it crushes those cars; it takes virtually no damage. It has to be armored. Then, later, Agent Sitwell is thrown into traffic and guess what hits him. Another yellow truck. One of the filmmakers, Joe Russo, had fun with this speculation saying, “The man who drives that truck (…) is very highly trained. He thinks on his own terms. He’s got a plan and a very specific skill set.” This description makes it clear that this person is either Frank Castle/The Punisher or Liam Neeson from Taken.
4. Cosmo the Space Dog – Guardians of the Galaxy
In Guardians of the Galaxy, we see several different little Easter eggs in the Collector’s Museum. There are corpses of several enemies from earlier films, artifacts and curiosities of all different shapes and sizes. One of the most interesting is a little doggy in a spacesuit. Fans of the comics will recognize this as none other than Cosmo the Space Dog, a member of The Guardians of the Galaxy. In fact, that giant head that they visit in the film, that’s Knowhere and it’s a space station that Cosmo is the security chief of in the comics. We also see Howard the Duck in the museum, and, in the post-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy, after the explosion has ruined his museum, the Collector and Howard enjoy a drink together while Cosmo licks the Collector’s face.
3. The Human Torch – Captain America: The First Avenger
Way back in 1939, Timely Comics, Marvel’s predecessor, created a character named The Human Torch—yeah, they would repurpose the name for Johnny Storm and The Fantastic Four. The first Human Torch was an android created by Dr. Phineas T Horton, Frankie Raye’s dad. He kept this android in a glass tube until one fateful evening at a press exhibition. Here, Horton opened the case and the android burst into flames and gained sentience all at once. Years and years later, The Vision, the android member of the Avengers, would be built using some of the parts of The Human Torch android. Ok, so now you’ve been caught up on the history. Why do we care? Well, in Captain America: The First Avenger, at the World’s Fair scene, we catch a glimpse of The Human Torch in his glass case. Is this where he bursts into flames? It’s pretty coincidental that this character from Marvel Comics #1 shows up in The First Avenger, a movie in which the main actor, Chris Evans, played the Human Torch in another Marvel movie franchise.
2. Adam Warlock – Thor: The Dark World & The Guardians of the Galaxy
There’s been a lot of speculation about the potential for Adam Warlock to show up in a Marvel film ever since the credits scene in Thor: The Dark World showed a cocoon that looked a lot like Warlock’s. Later, in The Guardians of the Galaxy, we saw the cocoon again. For those who don’t know, Warlock is an extremely powerful artificial human in the comics. His cocoon acts as a home for preservation and regeneration in his down time. Some conspiracy theorists think they even saw the cocoon opened up after the explosion in the Collector’s museum. When asked about it, director James Gunn stated, “Yeah, there’s a cocoon that’s exactly like Adam Warlock’s. I wasn’t really thinking that much when I put that in. That was my idea to put that in there. They’re like, ‘What should we put in?’ So I went in the Marvel handbook and like just picked cool things that looked neat to put into the boxes. It looked like Adam’s Warlock cocoon, so now everyone thinks he’s out of there and you know… I don’t know.” So, you’re saying there’s a chance.
1. Man-Thing – Iron Man 3
Let’s be clear. Man-Thing doesn’t appear in Iron Man 3, but his existence is all but confirmed. Here’s how. First, there is Ellen Brandt; she’s the fiery red-head played by Stephanie Szostak. You see her scars? Keep that in mind. In the comics, Brandt is the wife of Ted Sallis, the poor SOB who eventually turns into the hideous creature, Man-Thing. One night, Brandt tried to steal Sallis’ research at gunpoint and eventually shot him. Before death, however, Sallis ingested a serum that he had developed, turning him into Man-Thing. Later, when he touched Brandt’s face, he burnt it and forever scarred it. So, we can infer, that if Brandt has scars and works for AIM, Man-Thing must be out there somewhere.