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Why The Thunderbolts Deserve Our Respect.

The MCU's incarnation of the Thunderbolts seems pretty forgettable with B-level grade vigilantes signed on, but they present a much bigger threat than anyone realizes.

By Allie Z.Published 2 years ago 4 min read
Thunderbolts (Image Copyright: Marvel Studios)

For MCU fans, the big name on everyone's mind is Kang The Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). They're desperate to learn how the megalomaniac villain factors in Quantumania, Kang Dynasty, and Secret Wars, eagerly awaiting every new clue that crops up. Teases thus far mirror the buildup to Thanos (Josh Brolin) in the Infinity Saga, showing how pivotal a character this villain will become. Kang, however, isn't the only Phase 5 antagonist worth acknowledging.

Audiences also need to pay close attention to Director Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her cadre of vigilantes. She's slowly recruited members to assemble the Thunderbolts, which will be completed by the time Marvel's feature film rolls around. Fontaine is constantly on the move, popping up in every corner of the world, making it likely she's on an urgent recruitment drive. Dreyfus has a part in Captain America: New World Order coming up, potentially to scout another member for the previously mentioned reason. A logical person might assume Fontaine's sights are on Thunderbolt Ross (Harrison Ford) to have him become Red Hulk, except such a theory conflicts with the announced lineup.

Who's On The Team

Black Widow (Image Copyright: Marvel Studios)

While the final grouping may change, the likelier explanation is Director Fontaine approaches Ross to inquire about super soldier serums. He experienced minimal success with Abomination (Tim Roth), making the Secretary of State an ideal source for information. Evidence of Fontaine's search for the elusive serum lies in another casting announcement for New World Order.

Tim Blake Nelson returning to play Samuel Sterns, AKA The Leader, suggests he and a partner will engineer another batch. They have three subjects to extract samples from, Bucky Barnes, Red Guardian, and Agent Walker. With a bit of tinkering, Sterns can feasibly reverse-engineer a variant serum.

It's worth mentioning that the Thunderbolts' lineup is subject to change, especially when Marvel takes creative liberties with storylines all the time. We also can't ignore that Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine may have silent partners behind the scenes, expanding beyond the team's front. Characters like Baron Zemo, The Leader, and the Power Broker come to mind.

The Thunderbolts Are Dangerous Individuals

The Thunderbolts (Image Copyright: Marvel Comics)

In any case, the Thunderbolts will portray some iteration of villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fontaine only needs to introduce the team as loyal American patriots whose actions prove where their allegiances lie. They'd then have public support with the ability to operate without critical oversight.

Now, a group of vigilantes working without supervision isn't new. The Avengers did just that, after all. The danger, however, with the Thunderbolts is a majority of them were assassins at one point. Ghost, Bucky Barnes, Yelena Belova, Red Guardian, and Agent Walker worked in covert operations. They also have ledgers with lots of red in them. Most have stopped murdering people, but who's to say they won't go back to their old ways?

Another piece of evidence that points to these antiheroes' backtracking is Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). He wasn't on good terms with Agent Walker (Wyatt Russell) the last time they met, yet they're working together on the same team. So, either they make up, or Fontaine manipulates anyone with Cold War programming to follow orders blindly. That would explain why Bucky agrees to work with Walker and several former assassins.

As such, a team of assassins operating under the guise of worldly protectors who can sneak in and out of countries, kill off dignitaries, and dismantle nations in the process, is a dangerous prospect to consider. Director Fontaine possessing such a force at her disposal is the main reason the Thunderbolts have priority as villains to keep an eye on.

Thunderbolts Vs. Next Avengers

The Thunderbolts vs. The New Avengers (Image Copyright: Marvel Comics)

Besides potentially creating unrest worldwide, the Thunderbolts have another goal: kill the Avengers. Director Fontaine attempted to take two superheroes out of the mix in Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever, likely because they could foil her team's plans for the future.

Similarly, she positioned Agent Walker to eliminate Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Then in Hawkeye, Fontaine manipulated Yelena (Florence Pugh) into attacking Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) for the same purpose. These are clearly devious assassination attempts, proving that Earth's Mightiest Heroes are in substantial danger.

The good news is that Fontaine doesn't know a new team is slowly growing behind the scenes. Wong (Benedict Wong) has been extracting promising individuals from their everyday lives for an unknown mission without a clear goal. Their primary directive remains unclear, but that doesn't change the fact that they're preparing for a fight.

Team Members And Corresponding Counterparts

Disney+ She-Hulk and Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Image Copyright: Marvel Studios)

Who knows if they'll be enough, though? Wong, Shang-Chi, Abomination, and Captain America are still substantially outnumbered by Fontaine's lackeys. Such a discrepancy between team sizes means an overwhelming takedown could happen. Then again, a battle to save the world will likely drag anyone available into the mix. She-Hulk, Daredevil, and Clint Barton seem like they'd step up. Each possesses their own reason for not wanting a public superhero life, except those convictions may take a backseat to protecting the world.

The heroes mentioned have ideal qualities for combatting the Thunderbolts we know of, too. She-Hulk and Abomination are perfect matchups for Red Guardian and Agent Walker, considering they're all enhanced superhumans. Daredevil versus Taskmaster makes sense since they're both expert tacticians who've experienced major physical trauma yet continue to fight through those challenges. Barton versus Yelena is a given because of their shared history. Shang-Chi tackling Ghost may sound like an odd pairing, but their powers are comparable, both being energy-based. Then finally, there's Captain America versus the Winter Soldier. The conflict between brothers is a mystery, although the mere sight of Bucky joining the Thunderbolts hints at a rift coming.

Disney+ Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Image Copyright: Marvel Studios)

With a potentially high-stakes clash in the works, Kang should be a second thought for MCU fans. Audiences know how chaotic things get when two teams of superheroes collide, evidenced by Captain America: Civil War. One can only assume the Thunderbolts fighting a ragtag group of Avengers will leave just as much destruction in their wake. Most of them utilize explosives and incendiaries during direct combat, so it's easy to see how an all-out brawl may leave a city or two in ruins. That is assuming the action doesn't equal the scale of an Avengers movie, which could happen just as well.

The Thunderbolts feature film debuts in theaters on July 26, 2024.

(Sources: Deadline, Deadline)


About the Creator

Allie Z.

I cover most entertainment related topics and am venturing into journalism.

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