Bringing Sam Rockwell Back into the MCU Could Work Now that Robert Downey Jr. is Done

One of the least talked about characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one played by the one and only Sam Rockwell. Some have probably forgotten Rockwell played Justin Hammer in one MCU movie (Iron Man 2). It might be easy to forget this considering a decade passed since this film released.

The movies and TV projects Rockwell has appeared in since 2010 is also laudable. Back when he was employed by Marvel, he was still largely known as an underappreciated character actor.

Taking on the role of Justin Hammer was a big deal considering he was a bitter enemy of Tony Stark’s. He never had a proper ending, though, because he was only sent to prison at Seagate Penitentiary.

A look back at why Justin Hammer turned bad

Sam Rockwell
Sam Rockwell | Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images for Turner

As a military contractor, Hammer started his own technology company to attempt to rival Stark Industries. The viciousness in wanting to smear Stark went overboard to slimy, villainous territory.

Despite attempting to make Stark look bad in the public eye, Hammer faced some serious karma later. In the meantime, he managed to wreak a lot of havoc on Stark and a few Avengers.

His attempt to attack Stark came through Ivan Vanko, the son of Anton Vanko, the former banished partner to Howard Stark. Hammer recruited Ivan Vanko to eliminate Stark, becoming the main plot of Iron Man 2.

Of course, this also created the sometimes maligned Vanko character Whiplash, with this name having more than a little irony when applied to Hammer’s comeuppance.

Justin Hammer had a similar cocky personality to Tony Stark

RELATED: Sam Rockwell Almost Played Iron Man Instead of Robert Downey Jr.

All one needs to see is the scene where Hammer meets with Vanko at a dinner table in a giant hanger to prove how smarmy Hammer was. At the time, his personality nearly matched Stark’s in cockiness.

Everyone knows Stark evolved from being that brash person to being one who thought of others, including sacrificing his own life. Hammer would never evolve to this level, unless he ever returns to the MCU.

Over on Reddit, a thread went up asking people to post the MCU’s biggest missed opportunities. Someone commented on Justin Hammer never being used enough. Well, since he went to prison after Vanko turned on him, there was no way to utilize him again.

One has to still wonder whether all his time in prison made him change as a person. Would Sam Rockwell ever agree to return to the MCU as Hammer, or is he too big of a star now to rejoin Marvel?

How could Justin Hammer return in the MCU?

The suggestion on Reddit is Hammer could fill in as a polar opposite Tony Stark. Those missing the old overly confident Stark might appreciate seeing Hammer bringing a small element of it back.

Or, maybe he was reformed while being in prison for over a decade. If he manages to get released (and they always do), he could also become another nemesis for the newly formed Avengers team.

Hammer’s company was not quite on the level of Stark Industries. Nevertheless, he still created some amazing technology the U.S. military wanted. No doubt Stark Industries will continue in some form, with Hammer Industries still being active.

Bringing Rockwell back in the role, however, is tricky considering he won an Oscar for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in 2018. Plus, his TV work in miniseries like Fosse/Verdon continues being stellar.

Would Justin Hammer become a better person after prison?

Not every character who comes out of prison is going to be completely reformed. Some Marvel comic book superheroes spent time in prison, if most changed for the better.

Not knowing what Hammer is doing in Seagate Penitentiary might mean he was still operating his company all this time without incident. If so, it would mean he never did change.

With more nefarious villains likely coming in future phases, Hammer might end up being one of the rare human characters becoming just as bad.