Marvel’s Thunderbolts Explained: Everything You Need to Know About the Next MCU Team

This could be the MCU's answer to DC's Suicide Squad.

by J.R. Waugh


The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a box office juggernaut, seemingly having captured lightning in a bottle with its massive broad appeal and continued success as a mainstream Hollywood idea machine.  Thanks to decades of stories available straight from the pages of Marvel comics, we as the viewers have been treated to memorable adaptations of the Infinity Gauntlet saga, while also getting to see more obscure teams like the Guardians of the Galaxy truly shine.  One of the next teams to be featured in the MCU is known as Marvel’s Thunderbolts.  Read on for more on this team!

Marvel’s Thunderbolts Explained: Everything You Need to Know About the Next MCU Team

Aside from the reveal of the Marvel’s Thunderbolts film being in production with Jake Schreier attached to direct, filming is set to begin sometime in 2023, we know that the Thunderbolts is an antihero team with similar appeal to that of DC’s Suicide Squad.  This project has the MCU advantage of likely featuring villains who appeared in previous in-universe films.  Born out of a need to fill the void left by the Avengers, the Masters of Evil villains team staged a campaign to garner a similar appeal to the public as heroes for the team, with the ultimate goal of gaining trust and classified access, such as to the secrets kept by S.H.I.E.L.D.  Given the end of the Infinity Saga, this seems like a great setup.

But despite even the nefarious schemes of the Thunderbolts, the heroics rubbed off on its team members.  The villains who joined the effort even dawned heroic identities in a disguise.  There are a host of possible villains from previous Marvel films and streaming series’ who have either featured as members of the team in the comics or would be fitting candidates to join.  Below is a list of characters who are either likely to appear or would be great additions:

  • Baron Zemo
  • Black Widow (Yelena Belova)
  • Ghost
  • Taskmaster
  • Abomination
  • U.S. Agent
  • General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
  • Punisher

Zemo seems the likeliest member given the character’s involvement in the MCU so far, and the easy fan appeal he would present.  U.S. Agent’s future antics are uncertain, but given his ethical ambiguity and past as an antihero/antagonist, he would be a great, superpowered member of the team.  Thunderbolt Ross would be especially compelling when considering that some iterations of the Thunderbolts team featured the Red Hulk, his eventual alter ego, which is something that would surely delight viewers as a new layer to his character.

Other characters, such as Abomination, Ghost, and Taskmaster would surely make for interesting performances, and having Yelena Belova would be a genuine treat, with Florence Pugh’s performance likely being particularly enjoyable to watch, but it would also be fun to see Tim Roth once again a part of an ensemble cast.  It would also be awesome to see Jon Bernthal reprise his beloved Punisher role, and he would certainly embody the antihero aspect of the team.

Nothing is known yet about what the film will focus on for its plot, but fans are familiar with the concepts above, and there are quite a few iterations the team could have outside of what is even listed.  With the first Suicide Squad proving itself to be a box office success, and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad proving itself to be critically acclaimed and streaming success, Marvel’s Thunderbolts could capture the best of both worlds thanks to the MCU’s sterling track record allowing them to sustain hype for the movie.  Stay tuned for more updates on this upcoming film!

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- This article was updated on September 8th, 2022

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