After years of speculation and fans basically asking for it, Marvel is actually moving forward with a Thunderbolts movie. Is this really a surprise? Not exactly, considering the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been setting this up for the last few years. But before I go any further, I think we need to talk about just how significant this rather unknown Marvel team really is. For starters, they are not in the same league as the Avengers or the Fantastic Four and certainly not the X-Men. Not even close. In fact, they’re probably not on the same level as the Guardians of the Galaxy. On top of that, they’re not even really heroes. So what are they? I think one can say that they are basically the Suicide Squad of Marvel Comics. Now that is very interesting.
Marvel has done enough heroes, so it’s time for them to dish out the anti-heroes. Or villains, depending on how Marvel wants to approach this. So how far along is Marvel with their upcoming Thunderbolts movie? As of now, they have landed a director. The man helming this movie is Jake Schreier, while Eric Pearson will be writing the script. Jake Schreier’s directing resume includes Robot & Frank and Paper Towns, while Pearson was the screenwriter for Black Widow. That is the extent of the news for the Thunderbolts movie. No announced casting or characters so far, but I think we can all make a few guesses as to which characters will be involved.
Long before the news was made official, fans have an inkling for who will form the team. The short list of anti-heroes or villains includes Ghost, The Abomination, Taskmaster, US Agent, the Winter Soldier, and probably Yelena Belova. Given how Marvel has developed these characters in recent years, it makes sense that at least some of them would form the Thunderbolts. But who would lead them? The most obvious answer is Helmut Zemo. He has the ability to lead, to organize, and he has that killer instinct to be ruthless. Is there a better choice to lead a team like this?
But who would be the person responsible for actually setting up this risky initiative? If Amanda Waller is the mastermind behind the Suicide Squad, then General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross can be exactly that for the Thunderbolts. As of now, the character has moved on from the military and has made a name for himself in American politics. We saw that in Captain America: Civil War, and he had a major hand in developing and enforcing the Sokovian Accords. But if you’re a Hulk fan and familiar with this character, you’ll know that he’s a soldier at heart. You’ll also know that he has never trusted any superheroes and will do anything to combat them if he believes they will become a threat. Hence, the birth of the Red Hulk.
Helmut Zemo was the first leader and mastermind of the first incarnation of the Thunderbolts. Thaddeus Ross, while in his Red Hulk form, went on to form his own Thunderbolts team. And unlike Zemo’s team, this new lineup consisted of some very familiar faces. This includes the Punisher, Deadpool, Agent Venom, and Elektra. Now if you want a team of Marvel anti-heroes, you just can’t get any better than that. I doubt the movie will bring in this particular lineup, but we all know Deadpool’s MCU is imminent. He’s not exactly known for being a team player, but the Thunderbolts could be the right team for him. Heck, it could probably be the only team for him.
The most recent incarnation of the Thunderbolts is lead by Clint Barton, A.K.A Hawkeye. His team wasn’t really made up of criminals, but the MCU can play with this. We know a second season of his Disney+ series is on the way, but Clint Barton will likely want to retire for good. A good way to bring him out of retirement is to make him the leader of a new Thunderbolts team. This is something he obviously wouldn’t want to do, but Thaddeus Ross would find a way to coerce him. Given that Hawkeye is a founding member of the Avengers and never got the chance to lead, this would be the best opportunity for him to do so.
And as for Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, we need to address the big issue. By now, all movie fans will know that William Hurt has passed not too long ago. Should Marvel recast Thaddeus Ross or should they just not include him? It’s a tough predicament, but personally, I think Ross is too important of a character to not be in the Thunderbolts movie. As hard it would be to top William Hurt’s performance, I think the presence of Thaddeus Ross is critical for the Thunderbolts movie. Not only can he be the mastermind behind the initiative, but he can also serve as the main antagonist as Red Hulk.
That’s just a thought, but let’s talk about more lesser-known characters. The first team of Thunderbolts consisted of a lot of B-listers. Under the disguise of Citizen V, Zemo brought together a team of villains and led them under the facade of a new superhero team. The first team consisted of Screaming Mimi, Moonstone, Goliath, Beetle, and Fixer. Melissa Gold, A.K.A Screaming Mimi, would become a more prominent member of the team and eventually a leader. She played a crucial role in forming a new Thunderbolts team during the Civil War event and took on the new code name Songbird. If the movie wants to bring in a newer face, then they need Songbird.
Ultimately, the Thunderbolts has gone through many members throughout the years. The thing about the original team is that the more they pretended to be heroes, they more they liked it. It was a rare chance for B-listers to become A-listers. Of course, that didn’t sit well with their leader. Despite that, some members failed to become more heroic and others didn’t. That could be the basis for the Thunderbolts movie. What drives the original team is ambition, recognition, and eventually redemption.
This could be the team for the MCU we never know we needed. What would be more intriguing is that Zemo is no longer really a villain. After Falcon and the Winter Soldier, he has taken a less villainous path. He will probably never become a hero, but he could serve as a good anti-hero. It’s also likely he’ll have no interest in leading the Thunderbolts. However, he can be put in a position of coercion by Ross or someone else who has leverage over him. But you can bet Zemo will be planning his revenge from the very beginning.
Overall, I am excited for the idea of a Thunderbolts movie. This could be the Suicide Squad movie for the MCU. And better yet, it’s a good chance to introduce new and lesser-known characters to the MCU. What are your thoughts, Marvel fans?