Marvel Studios has more than a few things in the works right now when it comes to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The recent Season 1 finale of Loki kickstarted the studio’s long-rumored Kang the Conqueror plans, but the introduction of Kang isn’t the only major plot that Marvel is in the midst of setting up.
In its upcoming film and Disney+ titles, the studio is also set to introduce a handful of characters who could come together to form a Young Avengers-style team in the MCU. Meanwhile, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow both featured cameo appearances from Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, a new character already busy assembling her own MCU team.
As of now, these storylines all appear to be growing separately from each other, but what if they’re more connected than fans think?
Valentina’s Mysterious Benefactor — In Black Widow’s post-credits scene, Yelena (Florence Pugh) receives a surprise visit at her sister’s grave from Louis-Dreyfus’ Val. The scene reveals that Yelena works for Val and ends when the latter gives Yelena an assignment to go and kill Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the man she falsely tells Yelena is responsible for her sister’s death.
But before Val gives Yelena her assignment, she makes an interesting comment. Yelena tells her that she wants a raise, and, laughing, Val responds, “Oh yeah, you and me both.” While it’s possible that Val was just joking around, the line raises the possibility that Val may be assembling her Dark Avengers-esque team for someone else, a mysterious boss we have yet to meet.
For synergy’s sake, is it possible that Val’s boss is actually a variant of Kang the Conqueror (Nathaniel Richards) like, say, Mister Gryphon?
Who is Mister Gryphon?
In the comics, Mister Gryphon is created as a result of a glitch in the timestream, which splits Kang the Conqueror apart into different versions of himself. One of those versions wound up stranded in the 21st century and began working to build a new empire for himself in that time.
Going by the name Mister Gryphon, the Kang variant assumed the identity of a businessman and made himself the CEO of a company called Qeng Enterprises. He bought the Avengers Tower from Stark Industries, hired several Marvel villains to help accelerate his plans, and briefly teamed up with a powerful Chitauri warrior known as Warbringer.
Eventually, his real identity and origins were discovered by the Avengers. They engaged in a battle with Gryphon, who reprogrammed Vision and managed to momentarily separate The Mighty Thor from her hammer. He was ultimately defeated by the heroes, though, with Thor using versions of her hammer from the past and the future to banish him into the timestream.
The Inverse Analysis — Mister Gryphon is, by no means, the biggest or most notable Kang variant from the Marvel comics. However, the appearance of the Qeng Enterprises version of Avengers Tower in Loki Episode 5 has Marvel fans speculating that a screen version of Gryphon may be coming to the MCU fairly soon.
There’s the chance that Gryphon could show up later this year in Spider-Man: No Way Home, given the emphasis Spider-Man: Homecoming placed on Tony selling Avengers Tower. While that possibility still feels very likely, it’s worth considering that Gryphon could be the mastermind (or co-mastermind) behind Val’s growing team of MCU anti-heroes. After all, hiring Val and building a team of anti-Avengers would be in keeping with Gryphon’s whole businessman persona.
Not only would this be a shocking direction for Marvel to take, but it’d also perfectly tie together the studio’s ongoing Val and Kang storylines. Talk about a win-win.
Loki is streaming now on Disney+.