For some time, fans have speculated that Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine was gathering the villains of the MCU as a team of anti-heroes working for the US government. But would they be the Dark Avengers or the Thunderbolts? Both names have Marvel Comics history. Well, according to Deadline, it’s the latter. Marvel Studios has hired director Jake Schreier to helm a Thunderbolts movie. And Black Widow screenwriter Eric Pearson is writing the script.
The idea of a government team of operatives that go on missions sounds a lot like DC’s Suicide Squad. And to be fair, DC did it first in the comics. But Valentina Allegra de Fontaine in Black Widow and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier seemed to be setting this up for the MCU too. So which MCU villains and anti-heroes will make the cut? It’s unknown at this time, but we can make some educated guesses.
It seems for sure that Baron Helmut Zemo will be among them. He formed the original Thunderbolts team in the comics, back in 1997. In the original concept, Zemo had several villains adopt new heroic identities. All in an effort to fool the world, and then take it over. Since none of the other original Thunderbolts have appeared in the MCU, we’d guess Zemo will be their only representation on screen.
Also probably joining up are Yelena Belova, Ghost, Taskmaster, the Abomination, plus US Agent and Winter Soldier. Marvel explicitly sets up the last two for this in the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Of course, the MCU could go even bigger than just these characters. In the comics, General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross organized his own self-named Thunderbolts team, which included Deadpool, Elektra, and the Punisher. Adding one or two of those characters, especially Wade Wilson, could make this a popular movie.
Of course, the addition of General Ross is precarious, as the recently passed William Hurt portrayed Ross since The Incredible Hulk. His last on-screen appearance was in Black Widow. But, the MCU has an “out” here. In the comics, Ross becomes the Red Hulk by taking the same combo of super-soldier serum and gamma radiation that changed Bruce Banner. By making Thunderbolt the Red Hulk, the recasting is a little less jarring. He’d be an all-mo-cap performance.
Of course, Hawkeye himself has led the most recent Thunderbolts team in the comics. Could the MCU take Clint out of retirement again to lead a team of former bad guys? A project like this might do better at the box office with a former Avenger in charge. And America Chavez and Monica Rambeau were also on this iteration of the team. With Thunderbolts, the possibilities are endless.
No word yet on when they plan to shoot Thunderbolts, but don’t expect it until 2024 at the earliest.