At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Marvel Studios announced that Phase 5 of the MCU would end with Thunderbolts, bringing together a unique team of heroes and anti-heroes to make their mark. Bringing along Paper Towns director Jake Schreier and Black Widow head writer Eric Pearson to develop this new team-up outing, Marvel has a chance to explore something the MCU has never seen before through this darker group of fighters.
Marvel took the opportunity at the 2022 D23 Fan Expo to confirm the MCU characters that would comprise the core team in Thunderbolts after being set up in other entries over the years. 2021’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced the team’s likely leader in Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, although a trio of other movies from the past decade brought the rest of the group’s powerful players into the fold.
In the comics, this team is usually led by the classic supervillain Baron Zemo, also featuring interesting characters like Hawkeye and Luke Cage over the years. But now, as the MCU has done so many times before, the Thunderbolts movie will bring fans a take on this team that hasn’t been used before in any prior media adaptation.
MCU Bringing New Version of Thunderbolts
During Marvel Studios’ presentation at the 2022 D23 Fan Expo, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced the MCU characters that will team up in 2024’s Thunderbolts. The roster includes the following, as shown in left-to-right order from the concept art released at the event:
- Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
- Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen)
- Red Guardian (David Harbor)
- Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh)
- Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)
- US Agent (Wyatt Russell)
- Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko)
Looking at the Thunderbolts’ history in the comics, this team is different from any version of the group that has appeared in the pages before. Although they have all been Thunderbolts members in previous stories, this specific group will be seen together for the first time in the 2024 movie.
The most popular version was led by Baron Zero, which later turned out to be the Masters of Evil. This group featured Goliath, Beetle, Fixer, Moonstone, and Screaming Mimi, none of whom are confirmed to appear in Thunderbolts yet.
How Will Marvel Studios Utilize the Thunderbolts?
Seeing as the MCU has always only been based on the stories from Marvel Comics instead of replicating them exactly, it’s no surprise that Phase 5’s final movie is diverting so drastically from its source material.
One big difference comes right at the top, as it will seemingly be Val leading the team while Daniel Brühl’s Helmut Zemo is still locked up in the Raft after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Whether Zemo comes back for any kind of role later is a mystery, although Val’s mention of his breakout di lei in the final episode of their show together seems to indicate that he’s of interest to her in an unknown capacity.
Additionally, this will be the first time any version of the Thunderbolts has used Yelena Belova as the team leader, a role more often reserved for characters like Baron Zemo or the US Agent. Considering Yelena’s popularity di lei with fans and the way she’s already gone after Clint Barton following Natasha Romanoff’s death, she’s shown that she has what it takes to lead anyone on this team and make sure that their missions are accomplished.
This team may also be influenced by Thunderbolt Ross, which could match what happened in the comics or divert away from the idea depending on where Marvel decides to go in terms of naming the team in the movie. With William Hurt’s unfortunate passing, the franchise could use his General Ross as a way to inspire the team name if he passes away in the story, although nothing is confirmed on that front yet.
While Marvel could surely introduce more more of the original Thunderbolts characters later in the MCU timeline, the team right now consists of heroes and anti-heroes that are already established and ready for new challenges. The team is also sure to evolve long after their solo movie with the Multiverse Saga being only the next step in Marvel’s huge narrative.
Thunderbolts will debut in theaters on July 26, 2024.