The Thunderbolts are the MCU’s answer to the Suicide Squad
Who are all of Marvel's obscure antagonists in 2024?
Every superhero world need a contentious band of supervillains professing to perform good things because they are being made or paid to do so, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe now has enough live supervillains to form its own: Thunderbolts will be released in theaters in July 2024.
The main Marvel bombshell from Disney’s 2022 D23 Expo was the unveiling of who will be in the Thunderbolts movie lineup. So, who are the Thunderbolts, and what can fans anticipate from Marvel’s version on the Suicide Squad?
WHO ARE THE THUNDERBOLTS IN MARVEL COMICS?
The Thunderbolts have had several incarnations in Marvel Comics history, but the squad began as a bait and switch. They were formed by writer Kurt Busiek and artist Mark Bagley for The Incredible Hulk in 1997 (a full decade after the present iteration of the Suicide Squad), as a new superhero squad aiming to fill the void left by the Avengers’ absence.
What happened to the Avengers during the time? Well, an evil psychic entity spawned from Professor X’s suppressed thoughts of — what do you think? Don’t be concerned.
The surprise was that the Thunderbolts were actually the Masters of Evil in disguise, attempting to flimflam their way to power and glory by posing as superheroes, all while being led by a second-generation Nazi: Baron Helmut Zemo. The “heroes” of the organization eventually booted Zemo out and attempted going straight for a bit until their plot petered out — but the concept of a superhero team made up of supervillains is just too fantastic to leave in the toybox.
Sometimes the Thunderbolts are attempting to rehabilitate themselves, while other times they are just working for corrupt government officials. Some members have even been heroes — generally terrible guys — such as Hawkeye, Black Widow, Elektra, and Ant-Man. There is no regular Thunderbolts lineup, nor is there a pattern of characters dying more frequently than in other series, like in Suicide Squad. From Abomination to Zaran, several Marvel characters have appeared on the Thunderbolts.
WHO ARE THE THUNDERBOLTS IN THE MCU?
In their panel at D23 2022, Marvel Studios presented the whole character roster. The crew will be led by the enigmatic and unscrupulous Valentina Fontaine and will include Ghost, Red Guardian, Yelena Belova, the Winter Soldier, US Agent, and Taskmaster.
Ghost, alias Ava Star, was the antagonist in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. Hannah John-Kamen portrayed a lady who was granted the ability to phase through solid matter by accident as a child in a research experiment. She worked as a clandestine SHIELD operative in the hopes of discovering a solution for her body’s progressive dematerialization. When she learned Hydra’s infiltration of SHIELD, she deserted and turned to crime out of despair, her aims clashing with Scott Lang’s. She was alive, free, and her health had been temporarily stabilized at the end of the film.
Alexei Shostakov, as portrayed by David Harbour in Black Widow, is one of Russia’s attempts to reproduce the US super soldier treatment that gave rise to Captain America. After their years under deep cover as an American family, he is somewhat of a damaged father figure to Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova. He was on the run from police at the end of Black Widow, along with the other of Russia’s Red Room Black Widows who had been liberated from mind control.
Taskmaster is a mercenary in the comics who can learn and mimic the physical talents of anybody he studies, a feat he frequently employed to take on the Avengers in their own combat tactics. Taskmaster is all of those in the MCU, but she’s also a brainwashed little girl groomed to be an unstoppable killer thanks to a computer chip implanted in her brain. Antonia Dreykov’s brainwashing was broken at the conclusion of Black Widow, and she escaped together with Red Guardian and the other Black Widows.
Yelena, as previously stated, considers Black Widow and Red Guardian to be her family. She was a younger recruit to Russia’s Black Widow program who defected and evaded mind control in Black Widow before seeking out the guy she suspected of murdering her sister in Hawkeye. The story concluded with her finding the truth — that Clint Barton was innocent — and retreating back into the shadows after several flirtatious discussions with Kate Bishop.
THE WINTER SOLDIER
Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, called the Winter Soldier, is the most venerable Marvel Cinematic Universe character. Bucky first appears in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and has since appeared in seven MCU films as well as the Disney Plus series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
When we last saw him, he was still upset over Steve Rogers’ absence, but he had made friends with Sam Wilson and forgiven himself for many of the killings he committed while brainwashed. Oh, and he was still irritated with our next member…
The US government picked John Walker to succeed Steve Rogers as Captain America until he bludgeoned a guy to death with his shield. So he created his own shield and started out to murder the guys’ pals, until he chose to spare several prisoners at the last minute. We saw him recruited by Valentina de Fontaine for a strange group of superpowered humans at the end of the episode.
WHAT IS THUNDERBOLTS GOING TO BE ABOUT?
Given the absence of the Avengers in the present MCU and the Thunderbolts’ telling position as the penultimate picture of Marvel’s Phase 5, it is probable that the film will be framed by the team’s previous form — in which they posed as superheroes worthy of replacing the Avengers’ shoes. Valentina de Fontaine has previously been seen in regular touch with US Agent and Yelena Belova (in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow), and it appears she’ll be in charge of whatever Thunderbolts efforts are in the works.
Thunderbolts will be released in theaters on July 26, 2024, so we’ll have to wait till then for additional information.