After years of rumors, Marvel’s Thunderbolts has been officially confirmed — and has a July 2024 release date. Here’s everything that’s known about the MCU’s upcoming antihero team so far. Way before the official announcement, the concept of a Thunderbolts movie drew heavy speculation from long-time Marvel readers and viewers for years. In MCU Phase 4, audiences deduced one could be in the works thanks to Valentina Allegra de Fontaine’s sneaky recruitment activities throughout The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow. Sure enough, many Thunderbolts cast members were confirmed at 2022’s D23 Expo, including Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes.
It was later announced that Bucky and the Thunderbolts would be joined by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, recast as Indiana Jones and Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. Megastar Harrison Ford’s MCU debut as General Ross (replacing the late William Hurt) not only grabbed headlines the world over, it rekindled rumors regarding the final Thunderbolts cast and story among the MCU fandom. Ford’s Ross will also appear in Captain America: New World Order prior to Thunderbolts, and since the rest of the Thunderbolts’ lineup is drawn from preexisting MCU characters there’s a chance that movies and Marvel Disney+ shows released in the interim will add more members and story elements too. Here’s everything to know about Marvel’s Thunderbolts, from the release date to the MCU Thunderbolts lineup and their comic-book origins.
Thunderbolts Latest News
Though there is still a long wait until Thunderbolts closes out Phase 5 of the MCU on July 26, 2024 when it releases, there is already plenty of news on this new Marvel movie. Another piece of casting has fallen into place with The Bear breakout star Ayo Edebiri joining Thunderbolts. Unlike the rest of the announced cast, the actor has not appeared in the MCU yet and there is no confirmation of who she is playing. However, there is already plenty of speculation about who this secret Thunderbolts character could be. There has also been a tease as to which MCU movie Thunderbolts will be most closely connected as Marvel Studios’ exec Andy Park described it as something of a sequel to Black Widow. Finally, the movie is already planning out its shooting schedule with Thunderbolts starting filming in June 2023.
Thunderbolts Movie Release Date
The Thunderbolts movie announced its director, Jake Schreier, in 2022, and Black Widow‘s Eric Pearson was tapped to write the script. The movie is slated to begin shooting in June 2023, and the Thunderbolts official release date is July 26, 2024. While Thunderbolts was initially set to close out the MCU’s Phase 5, the rescheduling of Blade how makes it the final Phase 5 movie. Marvel’s current project slate and release schedule is jam-packed, which means all the upcoming projects could change, but will hopefully stay on course as the MCU Phase 5 marches on through 2023 and 2024.
Thunderbolts Movie Cast
The official cast of Marvel’s Thunderbolts was announced at 2022’s D23 Expo, and it’s already stacked with recognizable faces that leave little room for more surprise returns. The Thunderbolts MCU lineup includes Contessa Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who appears to be stepping into the role of Thunderbolts leader. Joining her are Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Red Guardian (David Harbour), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), John Walker/U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell), Ava/Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), and of course, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes.
While these are all familiar MCU faces, Thunderbolts marks the MCU debut of Ayo Edebiri who joins the cast in an unspecified role. There’s also still speculation that Tim Roth’s Abomination could join the team after his She-Hulk: Attorney At Law jailbreak. While Val seems to be taking charge of assembling the lineup, it’s difficult not to see Harrison Ford’s MCU character, “Thunderbolt” Ross/Red Hulk not getting a say in the team’s roster at some point down the line. Indeed, other characters from the comics might make cameo appearances or be added later, but for now, this is the core MCU Thunderbolts team.
Thunderbolts Movie Story
At the moment, plot details for Thunderbolts are being kept well under wraps, and it’s not clear that there’s even a script yet. However, there are plenty of directions the MCU could go with the Thunderbolts. With most of the characters already established, the movie can avoid any origin stories. Also, most of the Thunderbolt members in the movie are already far more sympathetic than their comic book counterparts, suggesting the movie will avoid depicting them as villains at first and simply make them anti-heroes.
What they could face is unclear, but it would not be a surprise to see the story of the Thunderbolts movie set up in a Disney+ show or two. Marvel Studios’ Director of Visual Department Andy Park also suggested the movie has strong ties to Black Widow. This isn’t a big surprise as the involvement of Yelena, Red Guardian, and Taskmaster makes it clear that a lot of those storylines will be carried over. It could mean that the movie also pays homage to one of the MCU’s original anti-heroes, Natasha Romanoff.
Thunderbolts Movie Trailer
There isn’t a trailer for Marvel’s Thunderbolts yet. Filming begins in June 2023, so there currently isn’t footage to assemble into a trailer. Disney and Marvel also have plenty of MCU Phase 5 movies and shows to release and promote in the interim. Once principal filming and a suitable amount of pre-production have been completed a trailer should shortly follow. Assuming there are no delays to the MCU Thunderbolts’ July 2024 release date, the earliest teasers will likely start appearing in early 2024 — but this is an entirely speculative estimate at present. It’s also entirely likely that a Thunderbolts trailer at this point would contain spoilers for MCU Phase 5 movies or shows expected before it, even if there was enough footage for one.
Who Are Marvel’s Thunderbolts? The MCU Phase 5 Team Explained
In the comics, the first Thunderbolts are a group of reformed villains. The original team was started by Baron Zemo after the Avengers were killed, aiming to replace the Avengers and gain the trust of the public in another world domination plan. This is why, even though Daniel Brühl’s Zemo is yet to be included in the movie’s cast, many still expect Baron Zemo in Thunderbolts. Unknown to the rest of the world, this new team of “reformed” villains, the Thunderbolts, was actually Zemo’s Masters of Evil in disguise. However, this version of the Thunderbolts actually start to enjoy being seen as heroes and doing good, so end up overthrowing Zemo as their leader.
Throughout Marvel Comic’s history, the Thunderbolts’ lineup and leadership have changed significantly. The Thunderbolts name has been attached to multiple iterations, with various members leaving and joining the team. This includes Harrison Ford’s MCU character General “Thunderbolt” Ross, who led a version of the team as the Red Hulk. Across the many Thunderbolts lineups, one factor has remained consistent, however: the Thunderbolts are morally grayer than the Avengers.
Many casual viewers online have already noted the similarities. Both teams count villains in their lineup, after all. However, despite the on-paper idiosyncrasies between Thunderbolts’ and the Suicide Squad, they’re by no means the same. Marvel’s Thunderbolts will be very different from the WarnerBros/DC team it’s already drawn comparison to. Viewers unfamiliar with the Thunderbolts comics are naive to dismiss this Marvel Phase 5 project as a simple Disneyfied Suicide Squad, and not just because Marvel’s antihero team doesn’t have explosive chips in their necks or an R rating.
Is Harrison Ford Playing A Red Hulk In The MCU Thunderbolts?
Harrison Ford replacing the beloved William Hurt as Marvel Studios’ “Thunderbolt” Ross means that he could also become the MCU’s Red Hulk for Marvel’s Thunderbolts. In the comics, Ross’ obsession with defeating the Hulk led him to team up with some of the most dangerous criminal minds in the Marvel Universe on multiple occasions, including during World War Hulk. Composed of Ross, MODOK, the Leader, and Doc Samson, this World War Hulk villain team called themselves Intelligencia.
Like the more humorous and much sadder version of Intelligencia in She-Hulk, Ross and his allies used various techniques to siphon energy from the Hulk, which they used to transform Ross into Red Hulk. Later, after the Phoenix War, Ross led an iteration of the Thunderbolts composed of Venom, Punisher, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Mercy, the Leader, and Deadpool (who will be played by Ryan Reynolds in the MCU in Deadpool 3). This is why Harrison Ford becoming “Thunderbolt” Ross — aka Red Hulk — is so noteworthy to many in the fandom. It’s a casting decision that could affect not just Marvel’s Thunderbolts, but also a range of confirmed and speculated MCU projects further down the line.
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