It’s been more than a year since Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home marked the end of MCU’s first three phases. Black Widow and Eternals were slated to kick off Phase Four, but theater closures have delayed the films and Marvel’s upcoming slate of Disney+ series into next year. While the enormous success of Endgame means there's good reason to expect Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will join forces once more in the future, it’s at this point unclear when we will actually get an Avengers 5. As production on the Disney+ shows slowly resumes, they may be our best clue about future MCU storylines.
Set photo leaks from earlier this year suggest The Falcon and the Winter Soldier might be headed to Madripoor, the fictitious Southeast Asian island central to a number of villainous outposts. It’s possible the Disney+ series will introduce Madripoor’s dictator and leader of HYDRA, Ophelia Sarkissian (aka Viper/Madame Hydra) as the Avengers’ next major foe.
First introduced in 1969’s Captain America vol. 1 #110, Viper is an orphan raised by HYDRA. She is a ruthless and stealthy villain well-known throughout the criminal underworld, with connections to HYDRA, the Hand, the Hellfire Club, and Secret Empire, which successfully replaced Captain America with a doppelganger loyal to HYDRA’s goals of world domination.
Unlike many of Marvel’s villains, Viper does not have any powers or enhanced abilities. However, she is a skilled strategist and swordswoman, with an immunity to most lethal toxins (probably because she’s mastered using them on her own enemies). It is her tactical efforts, manipulation, and chaotic disdain for human life that makes her a worthy antagonist — it helps that most other villains are scared of her, too.
Viper has successfully kidnapped Captain America, taken over S.H.I.E.L.D., and ruled over Madripoor while secretly expanding her criminal empire to advance HYDRA’s cause. In the comics, she was ultimately overthrown by Iron Man, though that didn’t stop her from carrying on with her efforts elsewhere. Viper is, if nothing else, hard to stop and kill.
In live-action, Viper appeared in 2013’s The Wolverine and as Madame Hydra in Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, it’s about time that she crossed over into the MCU. We know that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier may be headed to Madripoor and they could cross paths with Viper. The island nation isn’t the only indication that Viper might appear on the show.
In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s trailer, Sam Wilson was in pursuit of helmeted skydivers wearing green costumes with yellow stripes across the chest. The look was awfully similar to HYDRA soldiers who have often flanked and worked under Madame Hydra herself in the comics. There’s a chance that Sam and Bucky’s adventure could lead them into Viper’s lair and a part of the plot may be dedicated to stopping her nefarious plans.
Of course, neither HYDRA or Viper have proven easy to defeat in the comics. Currently, the terrorist organization has seemingly been disbanded after they infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., but Viper may be trying to resurrect what’s left and bring them back into power. With that in mind, Viper could continue working behind-the-scenes in Phase Four, culminating in a major battle between her, her army, and the superheroes in Avengers 5.
The team of heroes have continuously battled those with powers or alien beings like Thanos, but it would be refreshing for them to take on Madame Hydra and her never-ending reach. After all, Viper’s influence is far greater than any villains the Avengers have fought thus far and her arrival could set up an overarching plot that will start on Disney+ before culminating in the next Avengers movie.