It’s a shocking conclusion right out of a comic book. On Saturday night, in a packed Hall H, Marvel Studios’ head honcho Kevin Feige revealed the entire slate of MCU Phase Five. While a lot of the titles were what many, including us, assumed were part of Phase Four, the timeline saw a few brand new additions. Among those, the Phase Five closer: Thunderbolts. This is huge for a number of reasons, not least because it’ll be yet another Marvel Phase without an Avengers movie to tie it up. Instead, it’ll be a coming together of a team of villains.

The logo for Marvel Studios Thunderbolts.
Marvel Studios

We’ve known for a little bit that a Thunderbolts movie was on the way. In June we learned Jake Schreier will direct with Eric Pearson writing a script. But, with Phase Four including Secret Invasion, it means all eyes are on the MCU’s cadre of baddies going forward. People will lose faith in heroes like the Avengers; who might they turn to but a team of ne’er-do-wells to fight them? And presumably the leader of this team will be none other than Baron Zemo.

Marvel Comics

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.

Marvel Studios

Also probably joining up are Yelena Belova, Ghost, Taskmaster, the Abomination, plus  US Agent and Winter SoldierMarvel 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.

We’ll have to wait and see for sure. Thunderbolts has a tentative release date of July 26, 2024.

Kyle Anderson is the Senior Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Instagram and Letterboxd.