Thunderbolts: How Each Member Of The Team Corresponds To One Of The Original Six Avengers
Meet your Thunderbolts!
After much speculation on who would form the MCU's Thunderbolts team after the film was announced at San Diego Comic Con, Marvel Studios Head Kevin Feige has now revealed the new team's full roster at this year's D23 Expo. The team will consist of six members: New Black Widow Yelena Belova, The Red Guardian, Ghost, Taskmaster, U.S Agent, and Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier.
In a world where The Avengers no longer exist in the way they once did, The Thunderbolts are formed by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine as a new superhero team to fill the void left behind. However, there will most likely be an ulterior motive behind the team's formation, and similar to their original comic counterparts, the members of the Thunderbolts may find themselves faced with a choice between carrying on with their manufactured purpose, or pursuing a path of true heroism.
If the purpose of the Thunderbolts is in fact to replace The Avengers, it is interesting to note that each MCU Thunderbolt can be seen as corresponding to one of the original Avengers, at least from a surface, functional stand point.
Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine = Nick Fury
Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, more commonly known as Val, was first introduced in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier TV series, giving John Walker is new title as U.S Agent, and recruiting him for a then unknown purpose. We now know that she was likely recruiting him to be the first official member of the Thunderbolts, and that she will probably recruit the other members too. However, Val's purpose for creating the team is currently unknown.
Val is the Thunderbolts answer to Nick Fury. As fans will be well aware, The Avengers Initiative was Fury's brainchild, a plan to form a special response team for situations beyond what Earth's existing defence was equipped to deal with. Fury handpicked four of the original six Avengers himself- Iron Man initially failed Fury's selection process, and Thor was a bonus addition, arriving in time to help the new team respond to Loki's attack. We eventually learn that Fury created the Initiative in response to the events of Captain Marvel.
Ghost = Iron Man
Ava Starr, aka Ghost, first appears as the sympathetic antagonist of Ant-Man and The Wasp. After a lab accident as a child, Ava is left with a strange glitch/phasing ability, leading her to be trained as an assassin. She utilises a special suit to help control her abilities, but over time her physical, and later mental stability begins to fail. Thankfully, Ava is saved with an infusion of quantum energy from Janet Van Dyne.
Of the original Avengers, Ghost most closely corresponds with Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. For one, Ava is the only Thunderbolt for whom tech is an explicit requirement for adequately performing active duty with the team. Without her suit, her powers would slip out of her control. Also, Ava is entering a new stage in her life. After being cured, she comes to regret many of her actions in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and just as Tony chooses to shift his company's focus from weapons to renewable energy following his kidnapping in the first Iron Man film, might want to step away from assassin work in favour of a more positive profession. She may have been lead to believe that the Thunderbolts will give her that chance.
U.S Agent = Captain America
John Walker, played by Wyatt Russel, was last seen in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. A highly decorated soldier, Walker is chosen by the Government to serve as the new Captain America, then tasked with thwarting Karli Morgenthau and her Flag Smasher terrorist group.
Unfortunately, the role proves much tougher than Walker expected, and, against all advice, injects himself with a dose of Super-Soldier serum recovered from a Flag Smasher base. Things get even worse when Walker's partner, Lamar Hoskins, is killed in battle, and, mad with grief and the power of the serum, Walker beats a Flag Smasher to death in full view of the public, resulting in him being stripped of his Captain America title. He has mostly recovered from his sanity slippage by the time the series concludes, at which time he is recruited by Val as the U.S Agent.
John Walker is, effectively, a dark version of Steve Rogers. A post-serum Walker is a perfect example of why Dr. Abraham Erskine wanted someone who was not just a good soldier, but a good man, as the serum's test subject. Walker is not a bad man by any means, but one of his core characteristics is being a good soldier, so these aspects of him were what were initially more enhanced upon taking the serum. His reason for joining the Thunderbolts may be a hope to do better in the future.
Red Guardian = The Hulk
Alexei Shostakov, aka The Red Guardian, a super-soldier who is Russia's answer to Captain America, made his MCU debut in Black Widow. When the film opens, Shostakov had been undercover in America, but flees the country with his false family, including a young Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova, after stealing SHIELD intel. Years later, Natasha and Yelena break him out of prison, seeking his help in finally bringing down the Red Room.
The Red Guardian is, more or less, the Thunderbolts equivalent to The Hulk. He is all brawn, and like the Hulk in full smash-mode, has a tendency to rush head first into battle scenarios without fully considering the consequences.
Yelena Belova = Black Widow
Like Red Guardian, Yelena Belova was first introduced in Black Widow. Unlike Natasha, Yelena was too young to realise that her undercover family in the U.S was just a ruse. After fleeing the U.S, Yelena is taken to the Red Room to be trained as a Black Widow. As an adult, Yelena reunites with Natasha and the rest of their undercover family to take down the Red Room. Afterwards, Yelena embarks on an around the world trip to free any Widows remaining under Dreykov's mind control, before becoming victim to the blip. After she is restored, Yelena, grieving Natasha's death, returns to work as an assassin, as seen in Hawkeye.
Yelena, being a Black Widow, will of course fill the role in the Thunderbolts that her sister once did among the Avengers. It has also been rumoured that Yelena could serve as the leader of the new team. Natasha once assumed leadership of the remaining Avengers following the blip, after both Cap and Iron Man stepped away from the team.
Taskmaster = Hawkeye
Taskmaster, a character with the ability to mimic any skill or fighting style they witness, appears as the secondary antagonist of Black Widow. Seemingly a servant of Dreykov, Taskmaster is eventually revealed to be Dreykov's daughter, Antonia, whom Natasha had believed killed as collateral damage in her earlier attempt to assassinate Dreykov. A brain injury sustained during the assasination attempt gave Antonia her ability to mimic weapon and fighting styles. Realising that Antonia is under the same mind control as the rest of the Widows and an equal victim in her Father's crimes, Nat refuses to leave her behind, and thankfully manages to free her by the end of the film.
Antonia Dreykov, from a functional standpoint, is the Thunderbolts equivalent to Clint Barton. With her Taskmaster abilities, Antonia is proficient in both the archery skills Clint uses as Hawkeye, and swordsmanship from his time as Ronin. There may also be room for a Black Widow-Taskmaster bond similar to Natasha and Clint's friendship. After she is freed from her Father's mind control, the other freed Widows promise Natasha that Antonia will be safe with them. Yelena will likely want to honour that promise in her sister's memory.
Bucky Barnes = Thor
Initially appearing as Steve Rogers' best friend in Captain America: The First Avenger, Bucky Barnes apparent death in that film lead to him being tormented, brainwashed, and experimented on for decades, becoming brutal Hydra assassin The Winter Soldier. Thanks to the efforts of Steve, and Wakandan technology, Bucky is freed from this conditioning in time to help in the battle against Thanos, and has been slowly recovering from his time as the Winter Soldier.
Within the Thunderbolts line up, Bucky fulfils the role of Thor in the original Avengers, not necessarily in terms of power set, but of the role he fulfils in the team on a more personal level. As Thor was unique among the original Avengers in coming from another world, Bucky appears to be the odd man out among the Thunderbolts. While the others members of the new team are still deep in their personal traumas, Bucky has already been working on his recovery, and was in a relatively good place when we last saw him at the end of Falcon and The Winter Soldier. He will most likely be the calm in the storm, a voice of stability and reason among the troubled minds the rest of the team will bring.
We can't wait to learn more about the team as Thunderbolts enters production soon.
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