Marvel’s Thunderbolts Explained: Get Ready For The MCU’s Next Team Up | Movies

From phase 1, current until the arrival of The Avengers, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been all about creating teams of heroes. And while there won’t be any in Phase 4, Kevin Feige confirmed at Comic-Con this year that Phase 5 will end with a different kind of team-up movie – the currently somewhat mysterious Love at first sightwith Black WidowEric Pearson is working on a screenplay, and paper towns and Robot and Frank director Jake Schreier (who was also part of the Waverly Films collective with Spider Man‘s Jon Watts) on board.

Who are the Thunderbolts? Why do they gather before the Avengers? And who will be in the line-up? Read on for answers, clues, and extrapolations from what we know so far…

What are Marvel’s Thunderbolts?

It’s not an exact match, but the simple way to explain the Thunderbolts is that they’re Marvel’s version of The Suicide Squad: a group of villains — or at least antiheroes — brought together by third-party schemers. in a possible misguided attempt to turn them into a force for good. In Marvel’s case, they were originally assembled by Baron Zemo and the Masters Of Evil, and have sometimes been linked to regular Hulk General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (hence the name). They debuted in the pages of The Incredible Hulk in 1996, presented by the team of writers and artists Peter David and Mike Deodato. They continued their own run the same year in a series created by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, and have been brought back with a bunch of alternate line-ups in the comics since.

Who’s been in the Thunderbolts in the comics?

As always, there have been various queues over the years. The first was led by Baron Zemo, who oversaw Z-listers Fixer, Beetle, Screaming Mimi, Goliath, and Moonstone. However, they weren’t revealed as those characters immediately – at first everyone thought they were a new group of brightly costumed superheroes called, respectively, Citizen V, Techno, MACH-1, Songbird, Atlas and Meteorite. Their true identity wasn’t revealed until the end of issue #1 of their own series: one of the best-kept secrets and most successful plot twists in Marvel history.

When it comes to the MCU, the characters who have been members of Thunderbolts at some point in the comics and have appeared on screen before – either in the MCU proper or in adjacent Marvel adaptations – are plentiful. . Not all are villains, and some are more likely than others, we suggest. Zemo seems obvious. Tim Roth as Emil “Abomination” Blonsky is set to reappear in She-Hulk, 16 years after we last saw him, which could be significant. Not-my-Cap super-soldier John Walker, aka US Agent, was featured in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and has already been recruited by insidious government forces. And with daredevil continue in his next born again series, this might just be an opportunity to use some of those Netflix villains who are still alive and often seemed to be set up for future shenanigans (e.g. we last saw Bullseye/Poindexter suffer a radical super-surgery on his spine).

Really, though, anyone’s guess at this point. Here’s everyone potentially on the board from previous comics (and one to come, too – a new Love at first sight run is about to start on the page).

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier - Baron Zemo

Abomination (Tim Roth)

America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez)

Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl)

Beetle (Claire Rushbrook)

Bucky BarnesSebastian Stan

Crossbones (Frank Grillo)

Flash Thompson/Agent Venom (Tony Revolori)

Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen)

Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)

Monica Rambeau (Teyona Paris)

Samuel Sterns/The Chief (Tim Blake Nelson)

Shock (Bokeem Woodbine)

Task Master (Olga Kurylenko)

US Agent (Wyatt Russell)

Whiplash (Mickey Rourke)

In addition, the possibilities of the Defenders series:

Bullseye (Wilson Bethel)

Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir)

Elektra (Elodie Yung)

Luke Cage (Mike Colter)

Punisher (Jon Bernthal)

Characters from the X-Men universe:

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds)

Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu)

Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones, or the all-CGI version)

And from Sony’s Spider-Man universe, aka SPUMC:

Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina)

Electro (Jamie Foxx)

Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe)

Rhino (Paul Giamatti)

Venom (Tom Hardy)

And finally…

Ghost Rider! Can you imagine Nic Cage pissing fire in the MCU?

Why did the Thunderbolts form?

The key factor here, and important for the timing of their arrival in the MCU, is that the Thunderbolts were introduced at a time when the Avengers were absent. In the comics, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four had been integrated into a pocket universe during the big Onslaught crossover. In the movies, we obviously watch the exhausted post-Thanos Avengers and, in short order, the aftermath of the Skrull situation set to unfold in Secret Invasion. In a world largely without Avengers, there will be a fight to replace them.

The Thunderbolts’ motivations over the years have varied. Zemo’s original plan for them was to exploit the gap in the hero market caused by the demise of the Avengers for his own world domination type schemes. But it has also been, like Suicide Squad, a government program to solve difficult problems with expendable and deniable agents. This is likely the direction the MCU’s Thunderbolts will lean into. Think back to attempts to make a government-sanctioned Captain America (Wyatt Russell’s John Walker) and sidekick (Lemar Hoskins’ Battlestar), and you might assume Thunderbolts will run on similar lines. . You’ll notice that the Captain America movie that immediately precedes Thunderbolts is called New world order. The likely trajectory here is that the next generation of Avengers could face a Trumpian disaster version. But expect a few redeeming arcs here and there, and a few side changes.

Thunderbolt without Thunderbolt?

It remains to be seen how the absence of the late William Hurt as Thunderbolt Ross himself will be handled. It could be recast; Sam Elliot played him in the 2003 Ang Lee Pontoon which predates the MCU, so it could be a fun throwback. But it seems more likely that the Thunderbolts are simply named after the hoo-ra militarist Ross by another character. The first candidate for the latter option would be Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, who we’ve seen pulling various strings before in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow. As mentioned above, she once recruited John Walker for her own purposes and sent Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) into the events of Hawk Eye. While nothing is confirmed yet, we’d say she’s a safe bet as the handler of the MCU Thunderbolts.