The Thunderbolts could join the Marvel Cinematic Universe during Phase 4. Here are all the villains and antiheroes already set up to join.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has already set up several characters who could be part of a future Thunderbolts team. One of the thrills of the MCU has been seeing Marvel’s biggest superheroes team-up to save the world on several occasions. However, Phase 4 of the MCU could see the first supervillain team-up. There are plenty of rumors that the Thunderbolts will form, possibly as early as The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
The Thunderbolts were created in Marvel Comics as part of Baron Zemo’s latest master plan for global domination. When several major members of the Avengers in the Onslaught event, Zemo united members of the Masters of Evil to do the unexpected, protect the world. The famous criminals took on new costumes and personas to gain the trust of the public and governments. However, some members began to like their new heroic activities more and led to a divide among the team. Even after the truth of the Thunderbolts was revealed, they were reimagined several times. By now, most of Marvel’s biggest villains – and even several heroes – have been affiliated with the team at one point or another.
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Although the MCU hasn’t aggressively pushed the Thunderbolts concept forward, they have done a lot of leg work to make it possible sooner than later. There are several members of the original Thunderbolts team who have yet to make their MCU debuts, but that might not stop Marvel Studios from introducing the team. Multiple characters who have been associated with the Thunderbolts have already been introduced. Whether they’re all part of the initial team or cycle through as the roster changes, these villains or antiheroes might very well be part of the MCU’s Thunderbolts.
Thunderbolt Ross/Red Hulk
Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (William Hurt) has nearly been part of the MCU since its inception. He first appeared as an army General in The Incredible Hulk but wasn’t seen again for eight years. After his return in Captain America: Civil War, the new Secretary of State played a vital role in the formation of the Sokovia Accords and gained oversight of the Avengers. Ross is expected to be seen multiple times in Phase 4, as he’s confirmed for Black Widow and rumored for Disney+ appearances on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and She-Hulk. There is even immense speculation he could finally become Red Hulk during one of these projects. Ross founded a version of the Thunderbolts in the comics as Red Hulk that featured Punisher, Deadpool, Elektra, Agent Venom, and more. Whether he’s the founder of the MCU’s team remains to be seen, but he could oversee them and eventually join the ranks if he becomes Red Hulk.
If Marvel does form the Thunderbolts, Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) will inevitably play a key role in it. Zemo founded the Thunderbolts in the comics and is routinely involved with constructions of the team. One such version saw him lead the Thunderbolts as a group tasked with hunting down rogue heroes and villains during Civil War. He’s been part of the MCU since Captain America: Civil War and showed his brilliance by manipulating the Avengers, specifically Captain America and Iron Man, to cause them to break up. The exact nature of his role in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier isn’t confirmed, but it does appear that he could work with Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) for some amount of time. Zemo could form the Thunderbolts during this next appearance, or it could further set up his master plan.
Black Widow (Yelena Belova)
Marvel’s first movie of Phase 4 will introduce the next Black Widow, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Seen as the younger sister of Natasha Romanoff, it is already confirmed that Black Widow will pass the baton to Yelena, setting her up for a big MCU future. This very well could include her being recruited to join the Thunderbolts. Although she is not a villain, Yelena’s past as a Russian spy and graduate of the Red Room could keep her from initially being viewed as a hero by the general public. In the comics, Yelena has been part of the Thunderbolts, although that was at a time when Natasha had taken her identity and used it to infiltrate the team run by Norman Osborn. If Yelena joins the Thunderbolts in the MCU, don’t expect a similar switch to happen.
The MCU introduced another possible Thunderbolts member in Ant-Man and the Wasp with Ava Starr aka Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). She was set up as the villain but ultimately proved to be more of an antihero. Ghost has been part of multiple Thunderbolts teams in the comics, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Marvel Studios stuck to the source material here. John-Kamen has already expressed interest in being part of a possible lineup. Ant-Man and the Wasp already established Ghost worked for SHIELD on covert missions, so she could be recruited again to be part of the Thunderbolts if it has any ties to the government.
Taskmaster will soon be part of the MCU thanks to Black Widow, and whoever is under the mask could be part of the Thunderbolts too. The skilled mercenary will have ties to the Red Room in the MCU and there is comic precedence for him joining the supervillain team. Although he didn’t stick around for long, Taskmaster did help train new recruits to the Thunderbolts Initiative run by Norman Osborn. With the ability to perfectly replicate any fighting style or move, Taskmaster has the perfect skill set for any missions the Thunderbolts go on.
The Thunderbolts could also be a chance to bring back one of Marvel’s forgotten villains, Emil Blonsky aka Abomination (Tim Roth). His lone MCU appearance to date came in The Incredible Hulk, although one of Marvel’s One-Shots did confirm that he is locked away in a top-secret SHIELD base. After the time jump from Avengers: Endgame, it has been over 15 years since Abomination was seen in-universe. Since the World Security Council originally wanted Abomination on the Avengers, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him recruited to the Thunderbolts by whoever is in charge. This would be a departure from the comics as Abomination has never been an actual member of the Thunderbolts, but that shouldn’t stop Marvel Studios.
The return of Batroc the Leaper (Georges St-Pierre) in Phase 4 could also set him up to join the Thunderbolts. Batroc played a minor role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and many thought he might never be seen again. However, St-Pierre is confirmed to be reprising his MCU role in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier after multiple photos of him on set surfacing online. Batroc has been part of the Thunderbolts in the comics before, so his inclusion in the MCU’s lineup would make sense. It’s even possible he’ll already be on the roster when he’s seen next.
Next: Every Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie
Key Release Dates
- Black Widow (2021)Release date: May 07, 2021
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Feb 11, 2022
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
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