Marvel Studios have already settled on the big villain that they are taking into the next few phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Kang the Conqueror will be the multiversal threat that Earth’s mightiest heroes have to face. But the two-part Avengers finale might not be enough to wrap up the loose ends within every corner of the Marvel Universe. Is the studio secretly building up to a secondary big bad?
There are countless characters who could serve such a role, from Doctor Doom to Magneto, but most of them are just too compelling to play second fiddle to the likes of Kang. In spite of that, there is one antagonist who has proven to be a valuable asset when it comes to pushing the street-level vigilantes to their limits in the pages of Marvel Comics. The MCU could be laying the groundwork for this villain’s arrival, and the organization he has so often been leader of. Will the lesser-known character of The Hood rise to the next level?
Who Is Marvel’s The Hood?
Parker Robbins is the alternate identity of The Hood. He was created by Brian K. Vaughan and Kyle Hotz, and made his debut in The Hood #1 in 2002. A minor thug, Robbins fell into a life of crime to care for his mother who was battling with illness through most of his childhood. He has early memories of a fight between Electro and Daredevil which enticed him into the world of super villains, but he would gain his powers through an unexpected encounter.
On a job which went entirely wrong, Robbins and his partner in crime were attacked by a demonic entity. Parker got lucky, managing to shoot the hellish beast before it could leave its mark on the pair. With the demon left dying, Parker stole the cloak and boots that the beast was wearing, both of which had come directly from the Dark Dimension’s resident Dormmamu. That theft would change Hood’s life forever.
Imbued with supernatural gifts, Parker Robbins took on the alias of The Hood and upped his operation. While he began to amass great wealth and build a minor empire, his desires were always set on gaining the kind of magical strength that he had slowly grown addicted to.
Interestingly, the comics took this lowlife and brought him to the absolute height of his power. Gifted the Norn Stones by Loki, they acted as a natural booster, allowing his magical potential to truly be unleashed. During the comic book narrative Dark Reign, which took place across 2008 and 2009, The Hood was given the opportunity to expand by Norman Osborn. Seeing the entrepreneurial spirit within the crime lord, Osborn ensured that The Hood would patrol the streets, keeping the vigilantes in line with his band of misfits and rogues. He had more political, magical and financial power than he had ever had.
While it all eventually came crashing down, the blueprint has been set for what The Hood could achieve on the big and small screen.
Marvel Cinematic Universe Debut
The road map for The Hood’s narrative in the Marvel Cinematic Universe might already be set. First, he has to make his debut and that’s already scheduled. Parker Robbins has been confirmed as the antagonist for the first season of Disney+’s Ironheart, which is set to debut in late 2023. While it is plausible that the villain could show up before this, it’s definitely the setting where he will make the most initial impact.
There’s already a casting announcement in place. The Hood is going to be played by Anthony Ramos, famed for his part in Hamilton as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton. He recently starred in the screen adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights where he portrayed leading man Usnavi de la Vega. Ramos has star power, and is a big-name actor for what could be a much larger role. He certainly has the acting chops to take The Hood to the big time, extending from a potential one-off appearance in Ironheart.
Furthermore, The Hood’s lasting legacy in the comics included involvement with two major groups, each of which might be key to the future of the MCU.
The Hood’s Gang
The Hood couldn’t amass all his power and take such firm control of New York without some help. For starters, Robbins had his right-hand-woman by his side, who was arguably the brains of the operation and far more competent than he ever was. Giulietta Nefaria, or Whitney Frost as she would become known, suited up as the long-term Iron Man foe, Madame Masque.
But this dynamic duo needed a much larger operation to truly maintain their position. That’s where The Hood’s Gang came in. While it was never given a more formal title, Robbins and Frost attempted to recruit and unite the many Z-list villains who had spent most of their lives being foiled by the very heroes they could now assist in detaining.
The group might be one of the biggest villainous organizations that has ever been put together in the comics, with the sheer roster size out-matching The Masters of Evil and even the Thunderbolts. Quantity doesn’t always equal quality. Members included familiar faces like The Wrecking Crew, Wizard, Electro, Mister Fear and Hydro-Man, alongside barely recognizable thugs such as Mandrill, Man-Fish, Crimson Cowl and Griffin.
Interestingly, there are already hints that The Hood’s gang could be taking shape on screen. The comic book variation of the criminal group absolutely benefited from the comedy-driven and lesser-known villains that had filled out the Marvel Universe. The Disney+ shows are providing plenty of them, but She-Hulk is more than pulling its weight on that front.
From the trailers and initial episodes, alongside images that have been released for future instalments, it’s clear that Jennifer Walters is going to be encountering plenty of the thugs who have served in Hood’s Gang, or have the potential for that MCU iteration. Titania is already a notable candidate, but the upcoming inclusions of El Águila, The Porcupine, Man-Bull, The Wrecking Crew and Saracen indicate that there’s a chance this could be the start of the roster’s formation.
It would be pretty fun to round out the roster of The Hood’s Gang with further forgettable villains that have already appeared across the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Marvel Studios want to build out the group quickly, then there’s a few ideal antagonists to bring in.
Hawkeye’s Jacques Duquesne never quite explained away his ties to an underground criminal auction ring and may have more room to explore his darker side as The Swordsman. The former Netflix shows such as Daredevil have a huge range of minor criminals to bring to the table, with Melvin Potter’s Gladiator being an obvious example. Then there’s those who might have flirted with redemption before abandoning that ideal. Razor Fist of Shang-Chi’s Ten Rings organization is a possible inclusion. Forgotten antagonists such as Ant-Man and the Wasp’s Sonny Burch or Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Shocker could round out the group.
Regardless of the direction Marvel takes and the returning characters they include, there are countless personalities that could bring an intriguing dynamic to this chaotic alliance.
While Robbins may have been the disputed leader of his gang, he absolutely was at the bottom of the hierarchy when it came to The Cabal. After Norman Osborn’s takeover of national security, he dispatched the Illuminati in favour of his own iteration. This Cabal included powerful minds like Emma Frost, Namor, Doctor Doom, Loki and eventually Taskmaster. The Hood was outmatched on every level.
Regardless, he represented an important aspect of Osborn’s empire when he sat at that table. It was an indication that even if he wasn’t taken seriously, Parker Robbins as a character could still be utilised in such a grand setting. He might be manipulated and desperate, but his surprising achievements within the villainous community genuinely outweigh all of those in his gang who may have once had similar ambitions.
The introduction of the Illuminati in the MCU indicates that Marvel may have further plans for the secretive group. With the heroes of Earth-616 potentially plotting from the shadows, inspired by the Illuminati of the multiverse, there’s every possibility that the villains follow suit. If that is the case, then The Hood might just be an unexpected roster member for a Cabal, fulfilling the story that took place in the comics.
The Next Big Bad
With the story of Parker Robbins in the comics laid out, and his path through the MCU becoming a clear possibility, why should The Hood be the next big bad of Marvel? Well, someone needs to unite the street-level side of the MCU to pay off many of the narratives that are currently unfolding!
Kang might be taking the attention of Captain Marvel, Thor and Doctor Strange, who are capable of defending the Earth from a multiverse threat, but there are so many other heroes that could be drawn together by a slightly different antagonist. The combination of The Hood’s Gang, alongside his mystical abilities, makes him a notable enemy to everyone from Daredevil and Echo, to Moon Knight and Blade. By including various previous antagonists, the stakes are only raised further, considering no one has been able to unite these forces quite in the same way.
The Hood meshes the supernatural and street-level genres, and is a logical threat for more than one vigilante to take care of, but he’s also got the backstory needed to make his reign that much more compelling. The desperation associated with Parker Robbins and his gritty edge is different from Kang, Thanos and other big bads that the Avengers have encountered, but it also makes him unique when contrasted with Kingpin, who could arguably fill a similar position.
The Hood’s Rise
How likely is it that The Hood could genuinely be the next big bad of the MCU, destined to unite the villains that fans have already seen, while becoming a major factor in the lives of countless vigilantes? There’s some evidence that Marvel could be moving in this direction, with the introduction of the character and so many familiar roster members from his infamous gang. The Disney+ shows are clearly heading towards a specific point, and Hood is a prime candidate to make some more Marvel magic. There are other figures that may line-up better with what Kevin Feige is planning, and Wilson Fisk is the most logical. Yet, there’s a fresh quality to Parker Robbins that allows the MCU to tell a story it has yet to achieve. That’s an exciting prospect.