Marvel’s Thunderbolts: Everything We Know So Far

Marvel Studios at SDCC 2022 have confirmed that the movie Thunderbolts shall be the final movie in MCU’s Phase 5. Although no cast was announced, its director was revealed to be Jake Schreier with Black Widow‘s Eric Pearson writing the script.

Thunderbolts is Marvel’s answer to DC’s Suicide Squad. It is a team of a group of villains or anti-heroes who are sent on Government sanctioned missions. There have already been some breadcrumbs scattered in MCU for potential members of this squad.

Thunderbolts in comics

Thunderbolts in Marvel Comics

They first made their appearance in The Incredible Hulk #449 (1997) in the Marvel comics. They were created by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley. When the prominent Earth superheroes die, Baron Zemo secretly rebrands his group of villains Masters of Evil as the Thunderbolts. Zemo knew that by posing as superheroes, the group could gain the public trust and build a position of power that rivaled the status of the Avengers. With time, Thunderbolts operated as a virtuous group when led by Hawkeye, Luke Cage, and the Winter Soldier.

Let’s look now at the potential Thunderbolts members in MCU.

Thunderbolt Ross (aka Red Hulk)/ Valentina

Thunderbolt Ross and Valentina in MCU

Played by the Late William Hurt, the character of Thunderbolt Ross was last seen in Black Widow. He played the new Secretary of State. However, due to his demise, Marvel Studios will probably recast the character. The Disney+ show She-Hulk was expected to feature Ross multiple times, with his eventual transformation into Red Hulk. However, MCU has been gradually introducing an effective replacement character, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Maybe, she will play a significant role in bringing the band together. She might be the new leader of MCU’s The Thunderbolts.

Baron Zemo (aka Zemo)

Baron Zemo in TFATWS

The man who tried to break Avengers apart – Baron Zemo (played brilliantly by Daniel Bruhl). Zemo was last seen in the Disney+ show The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (TFATWS). He was happy to work alongside Bucky and Sam, but he always had his best interests at heart. He would be an interesting addition to the Thunderbolts as he would no doubt spend the entire film thinking of a way to escape. However, his cunning ways and charismatic portrayal will surely be a treat to watch.

John Walker (aka U.S. Agent)

U.S. Agent in TFATWS

Rechristened as the new Captain America by the U.S. government, John Walker struggled to hold the mantle. After losing several fights, he injected himself with super-soldier serum and even used the shield to decapitate an enemy in front of a crowd of onlookers (TFATWS). At a point, he even helped Sam and Bucky in bringing down a terrorist group (Flag Smashers) to repair the damage he has done. However, at the end of the series, he was given a new suit by Valentina and was rebranded as ‘U.S. Agent’. Walker is still desperate to repair his tattered reputation, so the upcoming series shall see Walker and Bucky working alongside, led by Valentina.

Emil Blonsky (aka Abomination)

Abomination in She Hulk-Attorney at Law

Now that Tim Roth’s Abomination is an official part of MCU. He is the most likely candidate for Marvel’s Thunderbolts and their answer to the absence of Red Hulk in the team. He will appear alongside Mark Ruffalo and Tatiana Maslany in the upcoming Disney+ series, She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. Blonsky will probably get a clean chit from Government and will be recruited into the Thunderbolts team by Valentina.

Yelena Belova (aka Black Widow II)

Yelena Belova in Black Widow

Younger sister of deceased Natasha Romanoff, Yelena (played by Florence Pugh) stole the show in her portrayal of the character in Black Widow. She was later approached by Valentina in the post-credit scene of the movie to kill Hawkeye. As was shown in the finale of Hawkeye she is still unsure of her partnership with Valentina. Conflicted she probably will search for the truth while being in the Thunderbolts and also will get a chance to become a hero like her sister.

Bucky Barnes (aka Winter Soldier)

Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier

Last seen in TFATWS, Bucky (played by Sebastian Stan) was unsure of his life. Though the series finale saw Bucky come to terms with who he is, he never quite managed to find his place in the world. Perhaps he will finally discover that he belongs with the Thunderbolts. He’s experienced enough to establish himself as something of a leader within the group, and the work he does would further help him forgive himself for everything he did while under the control of Hydra.

Ava Starr (aka The Ghost)

Ava Starr (the Ghost) in Ant Man and The Wasp

Ever since her appearance in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp left her future ambiguous, and she hasn’t been heard from since that film. She was also a member of the squad in the comics. She possesses the power of appearing and disappearing in and out of phases following a quantum accident. Her whereabouts have since remained unknown, although we’re guessing she’s been trying to find a way to use her powers for good, which might just make her perfect for the Thunderbolts.

Anotonia Dreykov (aka Taskmaster)

Taskmaster in Black Widow

First introduced in MCU in Black Widow, Antonia could be a part of Thunderbolts. Though the character has been gender-swapped in MCU, Taskmaster’s power of Mirror Combat will be an ideal addition to the group. Marvel insider Daniel Richtman recently claimed that Olga Kurylenko is set to reprise her Black Widow role as Antonia Dreykov a.k.a. Taskmaster in Thunderbolts. As always, such leaks are unconfirmed and should be viewed with a skeptical eye.

Whatever the team will be in MCU’s iteration, the movie will surely be a superb stand-off to Phase 5 before delving into the madness now known as Kang.

Marvel’s Thunderbolts will be released worldwide on July 26, 2024.