Marvel’s first-ever shot at an anti-hero team — akin to DC’s Suicide Squad, but don’t let Kevin Feige hear you make that comparison — is on its way in Thunderbolts, the big-screen adaptation of the ragtag assemblage of reformed villains from the comics.
Tying together many over-arching stories as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for, it’ll include characters previously featured in The Falcon and the Winter Solider, Black Widow, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and many more films from across the grand Marvel film canon. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Who is in Thunderbolts?
The roguish super team will be led by an ensemble of eight antiheroes. Returning from Black Widow are Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, David Harbour as Red Guardian, Olga Kurylenko as Taskmaster, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Meanwhile, Sebastian Stan, Daniel Bruhl, and Wyatt Russell reprise their roles as Bucky Barnes, Baron Zemo, and John Walker respectively.
The wildcard entry in the team to many is the inclusion of Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost from Ant-Man and the Wasp, a villain who got redemption and cured of her illness at the end of the film. Joining the cast just to make it even more ridiculously stacked is Harrison Ford as Thaddeus Ross, replacing the late William Hurt. Whether or not he’ll become the Red Hulk is a point of contention. Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers) is similarly on board as Erin, Val’s assistant, a role previously occupied by Ayo Edebiri before she departed the project.
Then, of course, there’s the Sentry of it all. In February 2023, Minari star Steven Yeun was reported to have joined the film, with his role later confirmed to be the Sentry. However, in January 2024, Yeun dropped out of the production due to scheduling conflicts caused by the strikes holding up filming. Later that same month, Lewis Pullman (Lessons in Chemistry) was announced to have taken over the role of Marvel’s most powerful hero yet.
What will it be about?
Say what you will about Marvel, but the studio is second to none at keeping its plots under wraps and away from prying eyes. Very little is known plot-wise about Thunderbolts, other than some educated guesses based on previous films. Zemo was confirmed to be in the movie later than the rest of the cast, which could suggest he’s the villain of the piece.
General Ross could also be the antagonist, with him known in the comics for becoming the Red Hulk, while Valentina is also seen as being a potential instigator and schemer setting the film up. Seen recruiting both Yelena Belova and John Walker for missions, she also had a big role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, setting up more plotting.
The Thunderbolts team in the comics was started by Zemo after the downfall of the Avengers, with him deciding someone should fill the power vacuum. That said, none of the first comic teams are 100% confirmed for the film besides him. Notable members of its first line-up included Beetle, Goliath, Cyclone, Moonstone, and Songbird.
When will Thunderbolts release?
Although initially scheduled for Dec. 20, 2024, and before that July 26, 2024, the actors’ strike holding up production by such a long stint has caused the film to be shuffled back by several months. Now, Thunderbolts sports a release date of July 25, 2025, which makes it the second entry in the MCU’s Phase Six, behind that May’s Fantastic Four.
Although perhaps not as flashy as the reboot of Marvel’s First Family or other upcoming Marvel movies like Deadpool 3, Thunderbolts — which comes from director Jake Schreier (Paper Towns) and writer Eric Pearson (Black Widow) — could nevertheless turn out to be a low-key fan-favorite once it eventually arrives. Production begins in March/April 2024.