Simply put, The Thunderbolts are Marvel’s answer to the Suicide Squad, which consist of the supervillains or anti-heroes trying to do good things usually under some compulsion.
Just recently, at the Disney’s 2022 D23 Expo, along with other Marvel projects, more information was shared officially regarding the upcoming Marvel movie The Thunderbolts.
More importantly, they revealed all the seven team members of the team which has been quite a talk as which characters might be part of this.
‘The Thunderbolts’ Team Members And Cast Revealed
The upcoming Marvel supervillain team-up movie confirmed to be having seven members wh we already have met in MCU movies earlier : Ghost, Red Guardian, Yelena, US Agent, Taskmaster and The Winter Soldier.
The cast of the show was invited to the stage to reveal this team at the D23 Expo.
Julia Louis Dreyfuss is playing Valentina Allegra de Fontaine where her character will be gathering up this team, already seen in the movie Black Widow and Disney+ Series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
Yelena is played by Florence Pugh, Natasha Romanoff’s sister who we have seen in Black Widow and then making her appearence in Disney+ series Hawkeye.
Another character connected to Yelena, also featured in Black Widow, was her father Red Guardian ( basically a not-so-good Russian Captain America), played by Stranger Things actor David Harbour.
Another team member is Taskmaster, basically the third Thunderbolt team member who we have seen in Black Widow movie as a villain, but apparently now forced for good. Taskmaster is played by Olga Kurylenko.
Then, we have Hannah John-Kamen playing Ghost seen in Ant-man and The Wasp. There is also the US Agent, former Captain America or more like Captain America goes wrong, featured in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, played by Wyatt Russel changed to US Agent in the series end.
Last but not the least is our own Winter Soldier, a character going in and out between good and evil for quite long. Sebastian Stan played Bucky first seen in Captain America: The First Avenger, then we saw him fighting for good in both Avengers: Infinity War and the series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
On the stage, Sebastian Stan said to the fans at the D23 “These are my kinds of people” further adding “ They look like a good troubled bunch and maybe I know a thing or two about that”.
Kevin Feige, the Marvel president added “Says a lot about the Thunderbolts when the beloved Winter Soldier is the most stable among them”
And so far, we also know that Yelena is going to lead the team of Thunderbolts. Not sure but in the room full of these people, there certainly is going to be a lot of drama when it comes to lead or follow.
It is the rumors so far that Jake Schreier is going to direct this film which will be conlucison to the MCU phase 5.
What We Know About ‘The Thunderbolt’ Team Members So Far?
Contessa Valentine Allegra de Fontaine is basically a associate for organisation who recruit powerful individuals, someone like Amanda Waller in DC universe.
She first appeared in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier met John Walker, who was stripped from his title of Captain America because he murdered a surrendered rebel Nico.
She basically recruited him, giving his new title US Agent by saying that when times become weird, world wouldn’t need a Captain America but a ‘US Agent’.
Then, she also appeared in Black Widow‘s post-credit scene meeting Yelena, surrogate sister of late Avenger Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow.
She was basically contacted by Eleanor Bishop, mother of Kate Bishop from the Disney+ Hawkeye series to assassinate Clint Barton aka Hawkeye.
She was the one who made her to go against Clint Barton in Hawkeye series as she blamed him for the death of her sister Natasha.
Her character, apparently going to be like Nick Fury where he goes to put together a team of super-powered individuals, but Amanda Waller still will be closer comparison.
Yelena Belova, apparently the next Black Widow of MCU, surrogate sister of late Natasha Romanoff will be leading this team of supervillains or anti-heroes.
Recently, it was revealed that her character will be the leader of The Thunderbolts.
She was first introduced in the Black Widow movie which set in the past, pre-endgame, basically right before infinity war happened.
But after she was resurrected in the blip in 2023 when Bruce Banner aka Hulk brought everyone back in Avengers: Endgame, she seek out for her sister only to know that she died.
She was given an assignment from none other than Valentine, claiming that Clint Barton was responsible for her sister’s death.
Later, she show up fighting against Clint Barton aka Hawkeye in the Disney+ series Hawkeye but Barton was able to get through her before she came almost close to kill him. She abandoned her mission to kill him and since then, she is out there.
Chances are, Valentine is going to approach her again for being not just the part of the team Thunderbolts but also to lead as well.
Even though many fictional superheroes earned their name of Red Guardian but we finally seen the character played by Aleksey Lebedev, foster father of Natasha Romanoff carrying the name in MCU.
The character is played by Stranger Things breakout actor David Harbour introduced in the movie Black Widow.
His character in comics was basically created as a Soviet equivalent to Captain America, so you can see the similarity in his costume as well.
His character or past hasn’t been explored much in the Black Widow movie but we knew MCU was setting him to come up in further movies, and he is, as a team member of Thunderbolts.
Taskmaster is an another Thunderbolts character who is introduced in the film Black Widow.
Taskmaster was an antagonist in the movie against Black Widow and daughter of the General Dreykov was behind the mask.
She was mind-controlled by Chip where she was ability to mimic the fighting techniques of her opponents.
Her character at the end of the movie was exposed to Red Dust freeing her from the mind control of Dreykov.
Now we are going to see her in the Thunderbolts which might also tell more about her character and backstory as well.
Ghost aka Ava Starr is basically daughter of Catherine and Elihas Starr who gained her powers in childhood due to a quantum accident.
Her ability is to make herself intangible and pass through anything. Her character was introduced in Ant-man and the Wasp as antagonist, however in the end she did come across as someone who hadn’t much choice and wanted to survive.
S.H.I.E.L.D has used her powers to make her a stealth operative under the name Ghost before the HYDRA rising, working for them.
It will be interesting to see after she being cured of her instability by Janet and escaping, where she will go and how she end up in Thunderbolts team.
Well, this one is a old friend who we have been following since very first few movies of MCU, ex-supersoldier assassin and friend of Steve Rogers.
It seem we are going to see a lot of this character which is definitely what fans want, especially to see him part of a team.
With Winter Soldier, it is more of his violent past that makes him along the lines of an anti-hero, but he is certainly the most morally stable in this bunch.
After all, he also fought behind Avengers in the Endgame, then we also see his redemption arc in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
It will be really exciting to see how he interacts with other Thunderbolts team where he haven’t met most of them.
Quite hated characters who tried to fill shoes of Captain America but lost his calm, and killed in the bright day, something you could never see Captain America doing.
We never thought his character would be unto some use but Marvel was only setting him up to become U.S Agent, and part of this upcoming Avengers-like team.
So, he can be “Captain America” of this “Dark Avengers” which Thunderbolts are referred as in the comics.
In the end of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, we first time get to meet Valentine, another member and founder of Thunderbolts approached him to be part of this new team, remembers you of Nick Fury, for sure.
Who Are ‘The Thunderbolts’ In Marvel Comics?
Since, The Thunderbolts team members are confirmed in MCU, you might wonder who were they in the comics.
How much similarity they have with this upcoming The Thunderbolts storyline or team members?
To begin with, there are multiple incarnations of Thunderbolts in comics. Even though it is quite compared with Suicide Squad but interestingly, the first appearance of Thunderbolts was created a decade later of modern incarnation of suicide squad.
The writer Kurt Busiek and artist Mark Barely was behind the issue created after The Incredible Hulk (1997) as a new superhero team to compensate the absence of Avengers.
But the twist here was that these Thunderbolts were actually evil masterminds wanting to gain power pretending to be superheroes under the leadership of Nazi Baron Helmet Zemo.
However, later on, team members of Thunderbolts kicked out Zemo from the team and tried to redeem themselves.
So there are different versions where in one version, Thunderbolts are trying to redeem themselves and another, they are controlled by corrupt and malicious government leaders.
Even there are some Thunderbolts members who have been heroes in past like Black Widow, Elektra, Ant-Man and Hawkeye.
So, there is no one fixed Thunderbolts team member something you see with Suicide Squad, also that is not a good comparison.
In Marvel Comics, Thunderbolt members have been as following at some point of time :
How Many Thunderbolt Teams Are There In Comics?
A Lot! actually. As mentioned earlier, it is not like Suicide Squad, more than most of the ways, they don’t have a fixed team.
Different comics versions or issues have a particular set of team, also sometime with different plot or back stories.
Here’s are few Thunderbolt teams in different comic issues :
Incredible Hulk (1962) #449
The origin as shared earlier comes from after the Avengers are gone, in comic The Incredible Hulk Issue #449 released in 1962.
That’s where they made debut as this superhero team trying to fill shoes of Avengers to protect the world.
But apparently it seem to be grand evil plan under a team name ‘Masters of Evil’ from the leader of Thunderbolts, Helmut Zemo designed to be heroes but only want public trust and power.
So in this team, here are members :
- Fixer : a criminal inventor named Paul Norbert Ebersol
- Songbird : Melissa Gold
- Screaming Mimi : a cybernetic ally-enhanced wrester
- MACH-V : Master mechanic Abner Jenkins
- Atlas :Career criminal and Army veteran Erik Josten or Goliath
- Moonstone: Karla Sofen
Yeah! These character might sound weird if you are not familiar with Marvel comics since the beginning but it was way, way back.
Thunderbolts (1997) #4
They started becoming a team, criminals and ex-cons saving the day but soon it all become more real.
All the hero stuff they have been doing as a team made them feel heroic and this become even more true when a new team member added in this issue.
It was Hellen ‘Hallie; Takahama known with her superhero name Jolt, a happy-going bubbly teenager with bioelectric powers.
- Jolt : Bioelectric superpowered teenage girl, Helen Takahama
Thunderbolts (1997) #50
So, in this issue, both the team Avengers and Fantastic Four returned to Earth who were yet considered dead.
After that, Zemo, the leader of Thunderbolts revealed them and became America’s most wanted and escaped.
They were on the run, and while so, they joined new members.
One of them was former Avenger Clint Barton aka Hawkeye who led the team to fight a Henry Peter Gyrich, a brainwashed CSA agent controlled by Baron Striker tried to assassinate the whole team and also Crimson Cowel’s team ‘Masters of Evil’ who are their foes for a long time with member like Cyclone, Klaw, Flying Tiger, Tiger Shark, Man-Killer and more.
- Hawkeye – former Avenger Clint Barton
The New Thunderbolts (2004) #1
Jenkins started New Thunderbolts team adding more team members like Janice Yanizeski aka Joystick, Donnie Gill aka Blizzard, Genis-Vell Captain Marvel (now Photon) and Chen Lu aka Radioactive Man.
This new team fought against Atlantean terroists, Hydra, Fathom Five and more foes. There are still quite a twist and turns with their affiliation.
- Joystick : Janice Yanizeski
- Blizzard : Donnie Gill
- Genis Vell: Captain Marvel (now Photon)
- Radioactive Man: Chen Lu
Thunderbolts (2006) #109-127
These Thunderbolts issues started from #109 to #127 was about Norman Osborn joining the team and leading a new incarnation of Thunderbolts.
This team was made of all these supervillains who are looking for redemption, with first mission to arrest all those who oppose or reject the newly formed Superhuman registration act.
This Thunderbolts team was led by Moonstone, and they eventually end up helping Avengers against Skull Invasion.
Well, this is interesting as you know that recently released trailer of Disney+ series Secret Invasion features Skull Invasion, however Thunderbolts aren’t introduced yet. Maybe they can be appear to help Avengers in Secret Wars, the final battle in the Multiverse Saga phase.
- Norman Osborn
- Radioactive man
Thunderbolts Team Against H.A.M.M.E.R
Osborn’s Thunderbolts team was not turned out to be ambitious as it was projected to be.
All of them turned on their teammate Songbird once they realise the difference in the moral compass leading to her death, even Swordsman tried to save her.
While some of the team members joined Osborn’s Dark Avengers, other created an entirely new Thunderbolts team. This new team was basically assassins for a security agency H.A.M.M.E.R that replaced S.H.I.E.L.D as they fail to deal with Skull invasion.
This new team includes:
- Nuke – team leader Scourge
- Ant-man- Eric O’Grady
- Black Widow II
- Mister X
Luke Cage’s Thunderbolts Team
Thunderbolts got captured by the Might Avengers after Osborn ordered them to step the spear of Odin.
Luke Cage, then by the help of Captain Steve Rogers and the handlers Mach-V, Songbird and Fixer, reformed this Thunderbolt team with adding criminals from the Raft.
They have included new members :
They also joined by Satana Hellstrom and even allied with Doctor Strange at some time. This team even get to time-travel where they helped Namor the Submariner and Captain America during the World War II.
All of this goes in-between Thunderbolts (2006) #144 to #164 and also in Dark Avengers (2012) #175
Thunderbolts (2012) #1-32
More Thunderbolts team incarnation can be seen in Thunderbolts (2012) from #1 issue to #32 issue comics.
This Thunderbolt team was led by General Ross Aka Red Hulk, who also appeared few times in MCU, in movies like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Captain America: Civil War. However, he never hinted to become Red Hulk, at least so far.
He was indeed suspected to be part of Thunderbolt in MCU, and maybe he will be, either in this film or later ones.
This Thunderbolt team was not sponsored by Government but acted more like a cover strike team, as their leader is also a Military man.
You get these team members in this version :
- Venom: Flash Thompson
Thunderbolts (2016) #1-12
Another Thunderbolts team incarnation was when Bucky Barnes aka Winter Soldier became the leader of Thunderbolts.
He had different set of individuals to lead the team and was to make sure that S.H.I.E.L.D never get to re-start Kobik project, which was an their attempt to brainwash supervillains into superheroes using this omnipotent child named Kobik created by using a Cosmic Cube.
Further when Zemo returned to the team, they led this team again in the Citizen v Disguise to rid the New York City from Punisher.
This team members include :
- Radioactive Man
Thunderbolts Present Team Members
The latest incarnation of the team Thunderbolts are going to be all new where they will be led by Kingpin.
This iteration is going to include individuals who are good at killing or have mercenary background such as Taskmaster, Rhino, Star, Mister Fear and all.
Their first assignment is to the save the city from a space dragon army with team members like :
- Mister Fear
- Batroc the Leaper
Who Could Have Been The Potential Thunderbolts (Maybe Still Can) ?
Helmet Zemo in the comics was the person behind who founded Thunderbolts in the first place after absence of Avengers with a evil plan behind, pretending to be superheroes.
That was the level of his cunningness. What will this team become if you throw Zemo into the mix.
There is still chance that he might be the part of Thunderbolts, perhaps under the wraps due to not revealing the plot or maybe enter in the future MCU projects.
Abomination who was first appeared in the Incredible Hulk, returned to She-Hulk: Attorney at Law as this reformed person for his do-over.
Well, this certainly hinted for him to go on a good side of the fighting, might end up in Thunderbolts. In fact, he was one of the highly suggested suitor for Thunderbolts team in MCU, but his name wasn’t among the top seven name revealed at D23 Expo.
But there is still chance that he could be in the movie or might appear in the upcoming MCU movies as well.
Echo, introduced in Disney+ Hawkeye series was also could be the great addition to the Thunderbolts.
Her character comes with a proficiency in hand-to-hand combat, quite like Yelena which might be the reason why they didn’t went with her. Or maybe not.
Whether she ever become part of Thunderbolts or appear in the movie, she indeed is a good choice amongst the pack of anti-heroes.
Thunderbolts movie could have been a perfect way to tie up loose ends such as White Vision in the Disney+ Wanda Vision series.
Last time he has been seen, was when he fought the Vision who was created by Wanda in Westview.
White Vision was unknown to his purpose after his ‘rebirth’, so it could have been great to just bring him to the Thunderbolts. He could have been a strong asset to the team, perhaps the most powerful team member.
Well, we haven’t seen Red Hulk in the MCU, not yet. But in comics, General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross was the one who founded or brought together this team.
And this character have been in MCU for quite while, you must remember him in Captain America: Civil War. However, the actor William Hunt passed away in 2022, so there could be a recast for the character.
And this can be also a gateway to rehash this character, go for a younger version as shown in comics or he can also come up as flashback.
He can be perfectly tie up to the Thunderbolt conception in the MCU. But that’s only time will tell.
After Daredevil brought to MCU, there is a strong chance that all the Netflix Marvel show characters ( now owned by Disney) will make their debut in MCU.
The Punisher, is one of them and bringing him to Thunderbolts could have been a great way because he was the part of Thunderbolts in comics in one of the iterations.
Well, in the comics, there was a time when Hawkeye led the Team Thunderbolts, and another iteration when he joined them while they were on run from Avengers and Fantastic Four, led by Zemo.
Could you imagine seeing that? So he could be the part of the series. Maybe still can. He did need some affiliation after Endgame.
This could have been the most outrageous way to bring Deadpool to Thunderbolts. And actually, the present Thunderbolts team in comics does have Deadpool in it.
So, it makes only sense to bring him in this team of anti-heroes. However, it will be a delight to even think of how MCU will bring him to the party, only time will tell that.