Who Are The Thunderbolts, And Are They Coming To The MCU?
Meet the Thunderbolts.
Six episode MCU event series Falcon And The Winter Soldier has proved another hit for Disney Plus. The series firmly established Sam Wilson as the new Captain America, and set up many plot threads to be carried into the MCU.
Many fans believe the return of Baron Zemo, as well as the introduction of John Walker and his interactions with the mysterious Val, could hint at the introduction of The Thunderbolts into the MCU. While comic readers will be aware of the Thunderbolts, newer Marvel fans may be left scratching their heads over the theories.
So, who are The Thunderbolts?
The Birth Of The Thunderbolts
After a chance meeting with a few former members, Baron Helmut Zemo decided to reunite the villainous team The Masters Of Evil, with the goal of killing The Avengers. However, before they can attempt this task, both The Avengers and Fantastic Four are supposedly killed in battle against the villain Onslaught.
In light of the apparent demise of Earth's Mightiest heroes, Zemo forms a new plan. The Masters of Evil take on new, heroic identities. Zemo leads the new team, dubbed The Thunderbolts, as Citizen V, taking up the mantle of a hero his Father, Heinrich Zemo, had killed during WWII. His bodyguard, Goliath, now went by the name Atlas, while former Spidey villain Beetle became MACH-1, Fixer became Techno, Screaming Mimi became Songbird, and Moonstone, freed from jail by Zemo, took up the new identity Meteorite. The Thunderbolts plan to act as heroes and fill the void left by the loss of The Avengers, thereby gaining the trust of the public and eventually, access to the technology The Avengers and Fantastic Four left behind, at which point they will return to their villainous ways. The plan goes well initially, with the frightened public easily accepting the new heroes.
Change Of Plans
Soon, The Thunderbolts were joined by Hallie Takahama, aka Jolt, a superpowered teenager who had been orphaned during Onslaught's attack, with Zemo using her story to build up the team's history. Jolt was unaware of the truth of The Thunderbolts' identities, believing her new teammates to be genuine heroes. Bolstered by Jolt's belief in them, and the growing goodwill of the people, many of the Thunderbolts found themselves enjoying life as heroes, becoming unsure about going through with Zemo's plan.
Zemo's plan is ruined anyway when both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four miraculously return. The heroes were never actually dead, instead being trapped in an alternate world known as Counter Earth. Following The Avengers' return, Zemo revealed the Thunderbolts' true identities to the world, ruining any hope they had of remaining heroes, and, he thought, forcing them to remain loyal to him. Instead, the team, minus Techno who sided with Zemo, turned on their former leader, defeating him with the help of Iron Man.
Unfortunately, with their identities revealed, the team were forced into hiding. Eventually, Hawkeye joins and takes leadership over the Thunderbolts, with the aim of eventually earning them pardons.
The Many Faces Of The Thunderbolts
Over the years, various different incarnations of The Thunderbolts have appeared, often with varying purposes and positions on the morality scale. During the 'Civil War' event, Iron Man recruits Zemo and a new incarnation of the Thunderbolts to track down and capture members of the Anti-Registration movement.
One team, put together by Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross, aka Red Hulk, was made up of Anti-heroes meant to serve as a strike team in highly dangerous scenarios. This version of the team included Red Hulk himself, Deadpool, Elektra, Agent Venom, and The Punisher.
Another recent version of The Thunderbolts was made up of Prisoners inside The Raft, undertaking missions for the Government in return for shorter sentences, similar to DC's Suicide Squad. This incarnation was overseen by Luke Cage, specially recruited by Captain America to oversee the new Thunderbolts, and U.S Agent, who was The Raft's Warden at the time. The team included Ghost, Juggernaut, Crossbones, Man-Thing, and Moonstone, who has suffered a few villainous relapses since her time with the original Thunderbolts.
So, Are The Thunderbolts Coming To The MCU?
Some fans are now speculating that a version of The Thunderbolts could be coming to the MCU, at least conceptually, though may have an untraditional roster when compared with the comics. Falcon And The Winter Soldier has provided a few scenarios for how an MCU version of The Thunderbolts could come to be.
Some fans think that Zemo, who has acted as the leader of a few versions of the comics Thunderbolts, could break out and put a team together, or simply pull strings behind bars. Others believe that Julia Louis Dreyfuss's character, Contessa Valentina Allegra DeFontaine, sometimes known as Madame Hydra in the comics, has recruited John Walker and given him his new identity as U.S Agent as a possible first step in assembling a Thunderbolts team.
So, what would the roster of an MCU Thunderbolts team look like? Well, U.S Agent is an obvious choice. Though not a straight up villain, his actions in episode four of FatWS have put him on the outer both with the Government, and in the eyes of the general public. Zemo is also likely, given his close ties to the team in the comics. Another possibility is Ghost, who seemed poised for a redemption arc after being cured by Janet Van Dyne at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Nothing has been officially confirmed as of yet, so we'll all just have to keep watching future projects to see if The Thunderbolts will make their MCU debut in the future.