The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s future is unclear. The pandemic has shut down theaters and productions, subsequently delaying the release of Black Widow, Eternals (dropping “the” from its title), the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and more. The tragic death of Chadwick Boseman will also impact the way Marvel moves forward with Black Panther 2 and other films.
As Disney and Marvel grapple with the loss and ongoing film delays, the idea that there could be an Avengers 5 seems futile at the moment. The film may not premiere for several years and isn't on the MCU's Phase Four schedule (yet). However, the recent appearance of the Abomination in the Marvel’s Avengers video game may be a clue that he’ll show up to fight the superheroes once more in Avengers 5.
The Abomination is one of the Hulk’s greatest foes. First appearing in 1967’s Tales to Astonish #90, the villain was introduced as a KGB spy named Emil Blonsky. Like the Hulk, the Abomination was created after subjecting himself to high-intensity gamma radiation that turned him into a monstrous green and scaly creature with gills, superhuman strength, regenerative healing, and the ability to fire gamma rays at will. Unlike the Hulk, however, the Abomination retained his intellect following his transformation, and his strength isn’t fuelled by anger.
Naturally, the Abomination is most intrinsically tied to the Hulk. The two have battled each other on several occasions, perhaps most famously in 1999’s Incredible Hulk #24-25, when Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross persuades Hulk to go after the Abomination for killing Betty Ross. The lizard-like villain also played an integral role in the World War Hulk storyline, which has long been a popular fan request of Marvel Studios adaptation. In fact, Abomination has often and most notably partnered up with Ross and MODOK, the vengeful villain with an oversized head who stars in Marvel's Avengers.
As it so happens, the Abomination has already appeared in live-action, battling Bruce Banner in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk (a film many forget exists but is technically part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Played by Tim Roth, the actor revealed there were talks to bring back the Abomination for Avengers: Age of Ultron, but these plans were scrapped. Still, considering that his backstory has already been laid out, it’s possible for the antagonist to return to the MCU in Avengers 5.
Photos from the set of Black Widow last year also revealed that Ross would have a role to play in the film. We know that Abomination was a former KGB agent and it’s possible that Ross is working with the agency and, by extension, Abomination. It would be a clever way to reintroduce the character, especially since we know that Black Widow will return to Russia in the film.
It’s also possible that Abomination could show up in the upcoming Marvel series She-Hulk first. After all, the villain has had his fair share of conflict with Hulk’s cousin. Perhaps he’s being set up as the show’s primary antagonist before moving on to Avengers 5. Of course, Abomination doesn’t seem like the kind of villain who could take on the Avengers on his own, so it’s possible that he’ll join forces with MODOK and other villains to plot and scheme against them. Ultimately, the Abomination’s connection to Hulk would make things personal and raise the emotional stakes for the next big team-up.
And considering that Marvel still doesn't have the rights for a solo Hulk movie, the obvious place for a showdown with Abomination has got to be Avengers 5.