She-Hulk’s Jessica Gao Says The Leader Almost Appeared in the Series

At last month’s D23 Expo, Marvel announced that after more than 15 years away from the MCU, Tim Blake Nelson will finally reprise his role as Samuel Sterns/The Leader in Captain America: New World Order. The upcoming film will mark the first time that Nelson has shown up in a Marvel movie since The Incredible Hulk premiered in 2008. But if She-Hulk head writer Jessica Gao had her wish, the character would have made his triumphant return a lot sooner.

While speaking with, Gao confirmed that she floated the idea of using The Leader in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law when she first interviewed for the head writer’s job. In the end, however, she and her team decided to go in a different direction.

“In my original pitch, I did have The Leader in there,” said Gao. “Just as an option, as a suggestion, you know? But really, I can’t remember why [it was scrapped]. I don’t remember if it was organically taken out, because we just came up with other stuff, or if we were told no. I honestly don’t remember. But there was thought about either bringing him back or doing some version of a new version of Leader, or some relation to him. But, I mean truly, this was three years ago. And the show has evolved so much that I don’t remember what actually happened.”

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Following Nelson’s appearance at D23, fans immediately began speculating that he would guest-star in an upcoming She-Hulk episode to sow the seeds for The Leader’s big-screen comeback in New World Order. In fact, one of the more popular theories suggested that Sterns was pulling the strings at Intelligencia the whole time. This would have meant he was the one seeking access to Jennifer Walters’ blood. But in the season finale, it was revealed that the organization’s real mastermind (a.k.a. “HulkKing”) was none other than Jon Bass’ Todd Phelps.

All nine episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law are currently streaming on Disney+. Meanwhile, Nelson’s Leader will return to the MCU when Captain America: New World Order hits theaters on May 3, 2024.

Were you hoping for The Leader to make an appearance during the show’s first season? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: The Savage She-Hulk Omnibus

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