Marvel has been quietly building a new team in the MCU, and they couldn’t be further from the mark. avengers. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (or Val for short) has been bringing together some of Marvel’s morally gray antiheroes and reformed villains in preparation for…something. At Comic-Con in San Diego, we discover his ending: a new thunderbolts movie in 2024.
In the comics, the Thunderbolts operate as a collection of vigilantes and mercenaries who get their hands dirty with underground work, crossing the line that the heroes don’t cross. We can expect the MCU team to follow that path (think The Suicide Squad, with similarly volatile results), but their lineup, which has fluctuated in the comics, isn’t set in stone.
Below, we’ll apply the rule on those likely to appear in director Jake Schreier’s intriguing big-screen adventure: fan favorites, surprise returning names, and even an MCU newcomer or two. These are not The Avengers. Not even close. These are the Rays. And we can’t wait to see what kind of dirty tricks they’ll do once they’ve reunited.
Florence Pugh’s Yelena is, for all intents and purposes, the new MCU black widow. Natasha’s sister-in-arms made her debut to rave reviews in the independent film Black Widow, while she was also a constant thorn in Kate Bishop’s side in Hawk Eye.
However, it is his accumulated history with Val that points to him leading the Thunderbolts on the field. They met on screen Black Widow post-credits scene, but they clearly had an unseen history given the chemistry between the pair. Yelena failed in her task of taking out Hawkeye, but Val is likely to call again in the near future if a bigger threat (or mission) arises.
When we first saw Val, he was pitching John Walker (Wyatt Russell) a new moniker, US Agent, and perhaps a new purpose in Falcon and the winter soldier.
Thunderbolts already has their Black Widow replacement in Yelena, and it’s only fitting that Walker fill a gap in the form of Captain America. Expect him and Yelena to co-manage the team. They are the two definitive standouts at this early stage.
How do you make a superteam full of egos and alphas even more combustible? Throw a certain Helmut Zemo into the mix, here’s how.
Daniel Bruhl’s scheming villain may have found himself imprisoned in The Raft after cleaning up the Flag Smasher mess in Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but getting the former Civil War instigator out of prison shouldn’t be a problem for Val. As part of the Thunderbolts, he can bring his intimate set of intelligence and farsightedness that brought the Avengers to their knees.
If the Thunderbolts need a more physical presence for hard-hitting work, they should look no further than Taskmaster.
Black Widow villain Dreykov’s masked muscle was revealed to be none other than his daughter, Antonia (Olga Kurylenko). Though Nat helped her break free from the Red Room’s control, her future may still align with those who work from the shadows. Her skill set, capable of mimicking any fighting style, including those of the Avengers, is sure to come in handy.
Ghost could certainly claim to be the most neglected character in the MCU. She appeared as a phase change antagonist in Ant-Man and the Wasp where it seemed like she was being groomed for further appearances in the future. Since then: radio silence.
As a member of the Thunderbolts, he would have the right mix of tragic history and lack of morals to get the job done by any means necessary. He likely ranks high on Val’s draft board, and could come out of the cold in the MCU after years of absence.
Tim Roth’s Abomination is returning in She-Hulk, marking a surprise for the villain who debuted in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk villain and has only returned once so far, in a brief cameo in Shang Chi. The Jade Giant’s monstrous foe seems to have controlled his transformations, which could prove useful in the hands of someone like Val.
The Thunderbolts could be set up as a dark mirror for the Avengers. If that’s the case, they need a Hulk. With Jennifer Walters and Bruce Banner likely in forbidden territory, Abomination is the only one with the unscrupulous morals to get the job done no questions asked. He might get his prison sentence commuted if he lends a big green hand to help the Thunderbolts.
Thunderbolts will need a deep roster with a large amount of talent to make it work. Echo’s skill with hand-to-hand combat and weapons makes her stand out in a particularly crowded crowd of anti-heroes. Alaqua Cox’s vigilante is fronting her own series in 2023, which would set her up nicely for a big-screen turn in Thunderbolts.
Thunderbolts is the perfect opportunity to help tie up loose ends for some characters, like White Vision. The last time we saw Frankenstein’s creation of SWORD, he had just fought a battle of wits with the version of Vision created by Wanda in Westview.
After recovering Vision’s memories in the Wanda Vision finale, declared “I Am Vision”. White Vision, then, is searching for some purpose and meaning after his twisted rebirth. He would undoubtedly be the strongest member of the Thunderbolts, but could Val tempt him back into the fold?
Even though a potential Thunderbolts lineup is full of up-and-coming Marvel talent, there’s a feeling it could work with a little more box office spark. Step up to Oscar Isaac, who wowed us with his jaw-dropping performance as the Avatar of Khonshu Steven Grant/Marc Spector/Jake Lockley in Moon Knight.
His multiple personalities would surely resonate with some of the more talkative members of the Thunderbolts, while his more aggressive side could be the blunt weapon the group needs to get the job done.
Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio returned from the cold and reprized their roles as Daredevil and Kingpin from Marvel’s Netflix series. Can Jon Bernthal’s Punisher do the same? Spring 2024 sees Daredevil: Born Again air disney morewhich could be a neat way to bring The Punisher into the MCU before bringing out the big guns in Thunderbolts.
In the comics, General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross helped usher in a new era of Thunderbolts. While the MCU’s General Ross actor William Hurt passed away early 2022However, the Thunderbolts movie could offer a way to recast the role or introduce a younger version of the character in flashbacks. If it’s the latter, we might find out more about how the Thunderbolts program came to life in the MCU and why Val is the one currently running it.
Who else could join the Thunderbolts? Deadpool, Hawkeye and The Winter Soldier
The Thunderbolts’ comedic career is littered with various members who have come and gone over the years. While they may not be as realistic as the previous ones, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a crossover with Hawkeye, who has a significant comedic history with the group, or Deadpool, who also joined the team. Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier could appear next in Captain America: New World Order, but it feels like the perfect complement to the Thunderbolts’ heavy espionage, behind-closed-doors nature. Likewise, Daredevil’s rival Bullseye could hit the mark. It offers another way to squeeze more out of The Man Without Fear’s rogues gallery, especially given Marvel’s big plans for Daredevil.
Thunderbolts is set to release on July 26, 2024. For more on the exciting future of the MCU, here’s our complete guide to the upcoming Marvel movies.