There have been so many announcements coming out of this past weekend’s D23 Expo. Billed as “The Ultimate Disney Event,” it was the first of its kind held in three years, with panels from Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, Lucasfilm and, of course, Marvel Studios.
While no new MCU projects were revealed at the event, plenty of updates on soon-to-be-released shows and movies were announced. Perhaps the biggest of all was the roster of Thunderbolts, a film set for release in the summer of 2024, which will be based on a Marvel Comics team of villains who set out to reform themselves. (Yes, it’s basically Marvel’s answer to DC’s Suicide Squad comics.)
Seven previously introduced MCU characters will form the line of Thunderbolts, consisting of the following:
- Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (played by Julia-Louis Dreyfus)
- Ghost (played by Hannah John-Kamen)
- Red Guardian (played by David Harbour)
- Yelena Belova (played by Florence Pugh)
- Winter Soldier (played by Sebastian Stan)
- US Agent (played by Wyatt Russell)
- Taskmaster (played by Olga Kurylenko)
Fans have been vocal about their displeasure with this lineup, with many hoping to see more variety in its members’ power sets. This is a valid point as there are four super soldiers in the group and only one member, Ghost, with anything close to supernatural abilities. It might have been nice to get a character like Abomination in there for variety. But these fans forget that what makes Marvel movies work so well is the character dynamics, and with so much established history and commonalities between the members, Thunderbolts has strong potential to be one of the best films of the Multiverse Saga.
There is an upside to the aforementioned concern of four super soldiers on one team, and that is the tension and conflict it will inevitably cause. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier already showed the enmity between Bucky Barnes and John Walker, which is definitely going to be at stake in this film. Adding two more to the fold is sure to bring a lot more drama and perhaps a thirst for each of them to prove they are the best of their kind. (It also seems likely that at least one character will die, and given how many of these creatures are on the team, it wouldn’t be surprising if it ended up being one of them.)
There’s also the fact that when viewers last saw Valentina, she asked Yelena to kill Hawkeye. That plan didn’t end up panning out during Yelena’s appearance in Hawkeye series, so the former might not be too happy about the latter going in Thunderbolts. It’s especially interesting that Valentina is the one who seems to be putting the team together The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widowbut Yelena is the one to lead them in the movie.
Yelena also has a long history with the Red Guardian, which was the highlight last year Black Widow, which will likely be explored further in this new film. He was her “father” after all, but she is now the one in power as the leader of this new team. She also has a lot in common with Bucky in that both have been forced to train as assassins against their will.
Ghost, though probably a much needed addition to the group in terms of her abilities (she can make herself intangible as seen in Ant-Man and the Wasp), is the wild card of the group when it comes to what her story will be. She is the only one in the lineup who hasn’t interacted with any of the other characters and feels out of place in what seems to be more of a group that focuses on hand-to-hand combat. However, being a bit of an experiment gone wrong can lead to a bond with some of the super soldiers.
Thunderbolts is clearly Marvel’s answer to Suicide Squad film, but has the potential to very much be its own thing. The Avengers were all about technology and magic, the Guardians of the Galaxy are intergalactic beings, but the Thunderbolts seem much more grounded as a team – and its members have much darker pasts than most of those from the other groups. Between this film and next year’s The Marvels — starring a cosmic-focused team — the Multiverse Saga finally brings fans some long-awaited team-up movies and pays off for some of the build-up that’s taken place in Phase 4.