There have been some great villains already in the MCU, from Thanos to Killmonger. But Marvel’s big screen franchise is yet to dabble with one particularly terrifying bad guy from the comics, armed with an array of dream powers that would make even Freddy Krueger shudder. Even his name is chilling: Nightmare.
We haven’t seen Nightmare in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just yet, but we definitely expect Kevin Feige and his team to pull the trigger soon on one of the most formidable Marvel villains from the comics. He’s a near-omnipotent figure who will exist as long as human beings dream, drawing his power from draining the subconscious minds of victims while they sleep.
As his name suggests, he can also torment people with grotesque and horrifying nightmare visions. Once Nightmare inevitably shows up in one of the upcoming Marvel movies, we don’t think any of the MCU characters will sleep soundly again. Doctor Strange has been a particular target of Nightmare in the comics, so he better stock up on energy drinks and throw out his comfiest pillows.
Indeed, the Doctor Strange movies present the perfect way into the MCU for Nightmare. The decision to bring in Sam Raimi for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness introduced some lashings of the best horror movies into the fray, most notably in a scene of a zombified Doctor Strange. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the creator of the Evil Dead franchise. Nightmare is a natural fit.
Nightmare first showed up in 1963 as a creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, wreaking havoc across the comic world from then on as the evil ruler of a Dream Dimension riding a demonic horse called Dreamstalker. Yep, he’s a super-cool multi-dimensional cowboy as well as being absurdly scary.
He is exactly the sort of villain who could benefit from the horror edge of Raimi’s best movies. If Raimi can be persuaded to return for the Doctor Strange 3 release date, then Nightmare makes a lot of sense as a potential villain. Raimi never got a crack at Freddy Krueger, but it would be fascinating to see what he could do when given Marvel’s own version of the dream-dwelling douchebag.
The “incursion” storyline introduced in Doctor Strange 2 is likely to be the focus of Marvel Phase 6, so should be resolved by the time Benedict Cumberbatch gets a threequel of his own. That lays the table for this villain’s arrival.
But there are some fascinating Nightmare storylines that could bring him into the orbit of other heroes too. At one stage, he was able to weaponize the concept of the “American Dream” to access minds, which of course put him on a collision course with the most patriotic of heroes: Captain America.
Even more absurdly, he once attempted to gain control of the entire concept of fiction. In that case, it was the Fantastic Four who stopped him. Given the role they’re going to play in Phase 6 and beyond, that’s another potential MCU entry point for Nightmare.
Either way, we reckon it’s only a matter of time before Nightmare shows up on the big screen, and he’s going to terrify us all. Expect sales of alarm clocks to go through the roof.
With so many Marvel series and new movies to keep up with, we recommend a rewatch of the Marvel movies in order. Then, maybe you’ll have some opinions of your own on where exactly Nightmare might fit into this franchise.