Marvel’s forthcoming Ironheart TV show could finally bring Mephisto to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
According to Deadline (opens in new tab), the demonic entity will make their debut in the Marvel Phase 5 project. Marvel is said to have tapped Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Trial of the Chicago 7) to play Mephisto, whose potential appearance as the devil himself would make for fascinating viewing. Per prominent Marvel leaker MyTimetoShineHello (opens in new tab), Marvel originally met with Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, The Mandalorian) to play Mephisto, but he reportedly turned the role down.
The report comes a few days after initial rumors of Cohen’s hiring spread across the internet. Multiple MCU insiders, including MyTimetoShineHello (opens in new tab) and MCU Status (opens in new tab), claimed Cohen’s Mephisto would appear in Ironheart. Given MyTimetoShineHello’s track record, it seemed likely that this would be the case, and Deadline’s own report only adds further fuel to the fire.
If Mephisto does make his MCU debut in Ironheart, it would be a long time coming. In early 2021, when WandaVision – the first MCU TV show – was airing on Disney Plus, viewers became increasingly convinced that Mephisto was the one pulling the strings in the background of the TV series. The fan speculation became so great, in fact, that it drove the WandaVision online theory mill for weeks on end – not to mention the boost it gave to Disney Plus’ subscriber base.
Unfortunately, Mephisto was never revealed to be WandaVision’s primary antagonist. That job fell to Agatha Harkness, who is getting her own Disney Plus show or Marvel Special Presentation sometime in 2023.
However, with Ironheart set to explore the battle between technology and magic – Anthony Ramos’ The Hood, the show’s main villain, is another magic wielder in the Marvel universe – it seems Marvel is ready to introduce Mephisto to the MCU at long last. Let’s just hope this isn’t another mystical misdirect.
Analysis: who is Mephisto, Marvel’s version of the devil?
Mephisto is the Marvel universe’s version of the devil, who was introduced to the comic book giant’s sizeable rogues gallery by Stan Lee and John Buscema in December 1968. Mephisto made his comic debut in The Silver Surfer #3, and is largely inspired by Mephistopheles – a German folklore demon who originally appeared in the Faust legend.
As an immortal being, Mephisto is an extremely powerful supervillain with numerous abilities. By manipulating the forces of magic, Mephisto can grant himself superhuman strength, the ability to shapeshift, project illusions, alter time, and manipulate peoples’ memories. He also can’t be injured by most weapons, which is, you know, not great for the vast majority of Marvel heroes. If Mephisto’s physical form is destroyed, it’ll eventually reform in his realm, too, so there’s no way of truly beating him. Oh, and he’s known for collecting the souls of interested parties by bartering with them. Hey, he is the devil, after all.
While he’s predominantly been a thorn in the side of The Silver Surfer and Johnny Blaze’s iteration of Ghost Rider, Mephisto has also duked it out with other notable Marvel superheroes. He’s also battled Thor, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, Vision and Scarlet Witch – hence the WandaVision links – and Daredevil. He’s also appeared in 1985’s Secret Wars II comic run, as well as Avengers West Coast.
However, Mephisto is arguably most well-known for his appearance in the controversial Spider-Man comic story titled One More Day. Here, Mephisto agrees to save Peter Parker’s Aunt May after she’s mortally wounded by a stray bullet. To save her, though, Peter and Mary Jane are forced to give up their marriage to Mephisto in exchange – a decision that alters their personal timelines, causes Mary Jane to completely forget who Peter is in his everyday and superhero forms, brings Harry Osborn back to life following his death in Spectacular Spider-Man #200, and results in their daughter never being born. Talk about a one-sided deal.
J. Michael Straczynski and Jose Quesada’s 2007 four-issue comic run was so divisive that, to this day, it’s considered the most polarizing Spider-Man storyline ever created. Fans and critics alike panned it as “downright disrespectful” and “undermining” to the character of Spider-Man as a whole.
Still, from Mephisto’s perspective, it was the ideal comic book run. The controversy surrounding One More Day catapulted Mephisto back into the Marvel limelight, with the villain going on to make notable appearances in multiple comic runs since, including War of the Realms and Sinister War.
Mephisto has appeared in non-comic book Marvel projects before, such as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, 2007’s Ghost Rider movie, and multiple videogames. Ironheart, though, will mark his debut in the MCU – and it’ll be very interesting to see if he turns up in other magic or supernatural-based MCU productions in the future, such as Doctor Strange 2‘s sequel, Agatha: Coven of Chaos, Blade, What If…? season 2, and the two Avengers movies coming in Phase 6.