MCU fans are looking ahead to more of the projects to come in Phase 5. One of the top ones is Thunderbolts, which promises to mix several different MCU characters into a unique type of team. Here's what we know so far about this upcoming film and how connected it will be to the MCU.
Who are the Thunderbolts?
The Thunderbolts debuted in their own comic in January of 1997. At the time, the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and other heroes were believed to be killed fighting the evil Onslaught but were actually shunted into an alternate reality. Thunderbolts, written by Kurt Busiek with art by Mark Bagley, was promoted for months as a brand-new team of heroes trying to take the Avengers' place. They made a big splash fighting some enemies and the public on their side.
But in one of the greatest twist endings in comic book history, the first issue revealed the shocking truth: The Thunderbolts were long-time supervillains, the Masters of Evil. Leader Baron Helmut Zemo had hit upon the inspired idea that with the Avengers and FF "dead," the villains would pose as heroes to gain public and government trust as part of Zemo's plan to conquer the world.
What Zemo didn't count on was that several of the T-Bolts realized they liked being heroes more than villains and turned on him. They then tried to be heroes for real, with Hawkeye briefly leading them. They were later transformed into a version of the Suicide Squad, with supervillains given a chance to work off their sentences by taking part in missions.
The name itself has a good vibe to it, and it's no surprise the MCU will use the concept.
Who is going to be the MCU Thunderbolts?
It appears this version of the Thunderbolts will utilize several characters already shown in the MCU: Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Red Guardian (David Harbour), Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko) and John Walker aka US Agent (Wyatt Russell).
Heading up the team is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). It's so far unclear if Daniel Bruhl will reprise his role as Helmut Zemo but given the character's connection to the team in the comics, it's hard to imagine he'll be absent. It is known that Harrison Ford will appear as Thaddeus Ross, taking over the role from the late William Hurt.
Also in the cast is Steven Yeun as a character rumored to be the Sentry, basically the Marvel Univers's answer to Superman, albeit one with some serious mental problems.
What is the plot for Thunderbolts?
It appears this movie will operate on the idea of the Thunderbolts formed as a black ops team for the government. Speaking to ComicBook.com, director Jake Schreier said the film is intended to be accessible to audiences who may not have seen the various films and shows where these characters debuted.
"Yeah, I wouldn't look at this as a sequel at all, and we don't talk about it that way, and we've never really kind of approached it that way in any of the conversations we've had with Kevin or Brian in working on it. I think there's a story to be told about a group of characters who can relate to each other in a certain way or have gone through certain things, and we're going to get into that."
It's hinted the events of the Secret Invasion series may have caused more distrust of heroes and so a need for a darker force to get things done. The film will be the second to last project for Phase 5 of the MCU and thus set the path for the big Avengers: Kang Dynasty event.
When does Thunderbolts premiere?
The movie is set to premiere on December 20, 2024. Filming was to begin in June, but the various strikes across Hollywood are delaying production, and the concern it might end up pushing the movie off further.
So while it's a bit of a wait, fans are hopeful to see this team of anti-heroes hitting the big screen next year to take the MCU on a darker path.
Thunderbolts is set to premiere in theaters on December 20, 2024.