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Who Will Be The MCU's Thunderbolts?

A new breed of anti-hero!

By Kristy AndersonPublished 2 years ago 7 min read
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Credit: Disney

Returning after a two-year break, Marvel Studios have once again proven why their Hall-H presentation is a must-see event at San Diego Comic Con. Among the big reveals at the panel was the announcement of a Thunderbolts film, due for release in July, 2024. The film will close out Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In Marvel Comics, the Thunderbolts first appeared as a new team of heroes hoping to fill the void after both the Avengers and Fantastic Four are declared missing, feared dead. However, in what is remembered as one of the biggest twists in Marvel history, the Thunderbolts are revealed to be Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil, posing as heroes to gain the public’s trust and eventually win Zemo access to the technology left behind by the Avengers and Fantastic Four. The plan begins to go awry when some of the Thunderbolts decide that they like being heroes, and completely falls apart when the real heroes return, alive and well.

Since then, the Thunderbolts have appeared in a few different incarnations over the years, with various rosters made up of Marvel anti-heroes, or lesser villains. The group has occasionally been described as Marvel’s answer to DC’s Suicide Squad. According to sources, Marvel's Thunderbolts film will include characters who have appeared as villains in past projects, as well as some of the MCU's more morally ambiguous characters.

Let's look at a few likely candidates for the MCU's Thunderbolts.

Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine

Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine, aka Val, played by Julia Louis Dreyfuss, aka Val, was first introduced in Falcon and The Winter Soldier. She shows interest in troubled super-soldier John Walker, and in the final episode, recruits him for unknown purposes, giving him the title of U.S Agent. Val was next seen in the post-credits scene of Black Widow, delivering Yelena Belova a new assignment to assassinate Clint Barton.

In the comics, Val sometimes goes by the name Madame Hydra. Many fans theorise that she will put together the MCU's Thunderbolts team to serve as an alternative to the Avengers, although her reasons for doing so are probably not altruistic.

U.S Agent

John Walker was introduced in Falcon and The Winter Soldier, as a war hero chosen by the U.S Government to be the new Captain America. Struggling to fill the shoes of the beloved Steve Rogers, Walker jumps at the chance to use a vile of stolen Super Soldier serum. Unfortunately, Walker becomes a perfect example of why Dr. Erskine wanted a good man to take the original dose of serum, rather than just a good soldier. The Serum enhances Walker's more violent tendencies as well as his strength, and after brutally murdering one of the Flag Smashers in broad daylight before a horrified crowd, he is stripped of the Captain America mantle.

Thankfully, Walker's better nature prevails in time for him to help Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes thwart the Flag Smashers attack on New York. Following this fight, he is recruited by Val, who dubs him U.S Agent. Many fans believe Val has recruited Walker to become a member of the Thunderbolts.

In Marvel Comics, U.S Agent once acted as supervisor of a Thunderbolts team formed from villains incarcerated in The Raft prison.

Yelena Belova

Introduced in Black Widow, Yelena Belova is Natasha Romanoff's adoptive younger sister, and fellow Red Room graduate. She secretly delivers information to Natasha in the hope that she can use it and her Avengers connections to bring down the Red Room, only to discover that, thanks to the events of Civil War, the Avengers have broken up, and Natasha is on the run. Ultimately, Natasha and Yelena put together a small team made up of their former surrogate family to take on the Red Room themselves.

In the post-credits scene, set after Avengers: Endgame, Yelena visits Natasha's grave. She is soon joined by Val, who delivers her an assignment to assassinate Clint Barton. Yelena takes the assignment, seeking revenge for Natasha's death, but ultimately spares Clint upon coming to the realisation that her sister's death was her own choice, a genuine heroic sacrifice.

Following the theory that Val will be the one to recruit the MCU's Thunderbolts team, fans believe Yelena is an obvious choice. She may even be encouraged to join the team as penance for failing to complete her mission wih Clint.

Baron Zemo

Baron Helmut Zemo first appeared in Captain America: Civil War. He is the film's true villain, working behind the scenes to engineer the events that lead to the break up of the Avengers, as revenge for the deaths of his family during Ultron's attack on Sokovia. He would have got away with this plot unpunished, had he not been caught out by T'Challa at the last minute. T'Challa has Zemo imprisoned for the murder of his Father, King T'Chaka.

In Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes reluctantly break Zemo out of prison to help him track down the Flag Smashers, some of whom have taken Super Soldier serum. Zemo escapes the duo briefly, but Bucky eventually returns him to the custody of Wakanda's Dora Milajie, after which he is incarcerated in The Raft.

In the comics, Baron Zemo is the leader of both the original Thunderbolts team, and a later incarnation recruited by Tony Stark to capture anti-registration heroes during the Civil War event. He is usually using the team as a means to his own nefarious plans. Considering that the MCU's Zemo, while manipulative and dangerous, is slightly more principled than the straight villain of the comics, it would be interesting to see how he would function as a potential member of the MCU's Thunderbolts. If his stance on super soldiers is anything to go by, he may struggle if forced to work alongside enhanced individuals.

The Abomination

Emil Blonsky is first introduced in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, as part of a military team tasked with capturing Bruce Banner, who has been on the run since the accident that first transformed him into The Hulk. Eventually mutating into the monstrous Abomination after being injected with Banner's blood, Blonsky rampages through Harlem until being defeated by the Hulk.

Blonsky has been imprisoned since his rampage, but after making a brief cameo in Abomination form in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the character is now set for a starring role in the upcoming series She-Hulk: Attorney-at-Law. Recruited as the face of her Law Firm's super human defence branch after her transformation into She-Hulk, Jennifer Walters is given the task of representing Emil Blonsky in Court.

Many fans expect that Blonsky's possible release in She-Hulk will free him up to join the Thunderbolts.

The Ghost

Ava Starr, also known as The Ghost, is the sympathetic villain of Ant-Man and The Wasp. As a child, Ava was caught in a lab accident that killed her parents, and altered young Ava's molecular stability, causing her body to 'glitch' and 'ghost out'. Unsavoury forces took advantage of this to train Ava as an assassin, but over time, Ava's molecular stability begins to fail, threatening her life. Bill Foster, a former partner of Hank Pym, promises to help Ava.

After hearing of Hank Pym's plan to rescue his wife, Janet, from the Quantum Realm, Foster and Ava wish to siphon any quantum energy from Janet, believing it will stabilise Ava. Hank, fearing this could harm Janet, rejects the plan. Ava, increasingly desperate as her ghosting becomes more painful, becomes dangerous, briefly alienates her last ally, Foster, after threatening to harm Scott Lang's daughter Cassie. Thankfully, Janet is able to transfer quantum energy to Ava, stabilising her without harm coming to either of them.

It is suggested that in Ant-Man and The Wasp's post-credits scene, shortly before Hank, Janet, and hope fall victim to the Blip, leaving Scott trappedin the Quantum Realm, that they were collecting energy in case Ava needed it in the future. Clearly guilty over some of her actions in the film, Ava may be looking for a chance at redemption, and led to believe the Thunderbolts will give her that chance.

Deadpool

After a false start in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, actor Ryan Reynolds led the charge for a more comic accurate cinematic version of the merc with a mouth, and eventually got his wish, starring in Deadpool in 2016. After an experiment, Wade Wilson, later known as Deadpool, possesses mutant regenerative abilities that constantly cure his terminal cancer and any other injury he suffers, but his skin is grossly disfigured, so he is rarely seen without his mask. As a mercenary, he works for the highest bidder, placing him in the Anti-Hero column of any Marvel morality scale, and he is known for regularly breaking the fourth wall.

Deadpool and its sequel, Deadpool 2, are not officially part of the MCU, having been made prior to Disney's buy-out of 20th Century Fox, but a third MCU-based Deadpool film, with Reynolds reprising his role, is currently in the works at Marvel Studios. In the comics, Deadpool serves in an incarnation of the Thunderbolts chosen by General Thaddeus Ross, then the Red Hulk, to serve as a specialised strike team. Some fans believe Deadpool may appear as a Thunderbolt before making his first big MCU solo outing.

There are other possibilities, and we may get a few surprises along the way as we get closer to Thunderbolts arriving in theatres in 2025, but for now, the above are some of the top picks. If the right choices are made, Thunderbolts could be a very memorable film.

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About the Creator

Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

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