Why Marvel Fans Should Get Hyped

The Thunderbolts are Marvel’s answer to the Suicide Squad. They are a team of second-rate villains put together by a slightly more intelligent villain for evil purposes but, along the way, end up redeeming themselves and becoming heroes. It’s a good story. And the Thunderbolts have been a staple of Marvel Comics since the ’90s.

With an ever-changing cast of villains, it’s tough to say which version of the Thunderbolts the MCU will be employing. But like most MCU movies, it will probably be a slightly original mash-up with a familiar storyline.

Most people who watch Marvel movies have never even heard of the Thunderbolts, but every hardcore comic fan will know that any film about them is filled with potential. There are Thunderbolts comics from almost every great era of the Marvel universe, from Secret Invasion to the Heroic Age. And there are a lot of entry points to adapt this comic book into the current MCU continuity.


With all the hype generated at just the hint of a Thunderbolts moviehere’s why it’s a big deal, and why you should be as excited as a Marvel fan.

Who Are the Thunderbolts?

The first and most curious question to be answered about who exactly is a part of this super-team is which version of the Thunderbolts will the MCU be using? There are two primary canons for the team. One was formed by Baron Zemo, and the other by Thunderbolt Rossaka the Red Hulk.

Ironically enough, the team created by Secretary Ross is not the original team. Baron Zemo gave the name to his cohorts ironically. He thought the title sounded like a superhero team while still having a crypto-fascist undertone. He also rebranded each of the members’ supervillain identities to sound more like new heroes in order to fool the public. So, this is very much a team created out of irony and deception, as Zemo is wont to do. On the other hand, Secretary Ross just took a bunch of anti-heroes that weren’t afraid to kill and used them to clean up the city.

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Both versions of the Thunderbolts are equally valid and would have been good ways to introduce new characters. But unfortunately, since William Hurt’s death, we would guess it’s more likely that the MCU will go with the Zemo incarnation. Though many of us were waiting for the big Red Hulk movie, seeing more of Zemo isn’t bad. Zemo is still an active character and arguably has more screen time in Civil War and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier than Secretary Ross ever got when he appeared.

Zemo’s original Thunderbolt team was filled with villains that only the more educated in comic book lore would recognize. In contrast, Ross’s team had heroes like Punisher, Ghost Rider, and Deadpool. But Zemo’s team longevity leads it to hold many more recognizable names over time. Over the years, the team included Venom, Green Goblin, Juggernaut, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. It even had a few Avengers like Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Ant-Man. Needless to say, Disney will not have to go searching for rights to superheroes to make this movie.

How will they do it?

A great number of characters are just waiting in the wings for this movie to start. None of the Spider-Man villains, X-Men villains, or Defenders really need explanations or narrative set-ups to get called into a situation like this. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it was as easy as going to The Raft to pick up Zemo, and now that he’s loose, anything is possible. His evil machinations could reach across international borders in order to assemble a group of villains, even if he is in the hands of the Wakandans. His motives would have to be sinister enough to get him to plan a daring escape, though.

Related: Why Doctor Strange’s Wong Should Get His Own MCU Project

In the comics, Zemo put the team together to save Erik Josten, known as Power Man, then known as Goliath. Unfortunately, we have not seen him pop up yet in the MCU. An alternative motivation he had in the comics was to destroy the Avengers, but they aren’t really assembling these days.

Some more prominent names on the Thunderbolts may be harder to find. It may be tough to pull Hawkeye away from his family after that lovely Christmas miniseries. But that same show did give us Swordsman, who was a Thunderbolt during the Secret Wars era, a cross-title universe event that Marvel seemed to hint they were setting up in the MCU. While movie-level superheroes spend time dealing with multiverses and Kang the Conqueror, the Secret Wars event could very well occur on a Disney + level, bringing together some side-lined heroes and villains to create the Thunderbolts.

Of course, the whole thing could just turn into an Amanda Waller-esque “use the bad guys to kill the bad guys” kind of debacle, but that does not sound very creative.

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