- Marvel’s Thunderbolts may be the new savior of the MCU, following the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy in revitalizing the franchise.
- The MCU version of the Thunderbolts team will include characters from established MCU properties, all brought together to fight a new threat.
- The team will be up against a powerful antagonist, potentially powered down to match the strength of the Thunderbolts, and may face challenges in bringing together such disparate characters effectively.
Marvel may not be the powerhouse hitmaker it once was, but it also has a track record of surprising its fans. When the first Avengers film hit theaters, and we saw all of our favorite heroes together, it was a wonder these individuals didn’t tear the movie apart. But audiences clamored for more team content.
When Marvel started losing its fire, James Gunn and the Guardians of the Galaxy came along. The film revitalized the MCU and added a sense of fun and adult content to a somewhat shaky brand. But now the field has shifted even more, and with James Gunn jumping ship, the next team may be the new savior of the MCU. It may all rest on the shoulders of the Thunderbolts.
Who Are Marvel’s Thunderbolts?
The Thunderbolts were initially created in the comics to take bad guys and give them makeovers to be good guys. They were a temporary replacement for the Avengers and were a force for good with evil undertones. However, some of them were much happier being the good guys, and this caused rifts in the group. Since then, the group’s membership has changed, as has its moral compass.
The MCU version of the team will include characters from many of the established MCU properties, all of whom we have seen before. These include the powerful Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine (Julie Louis-Dreyfus), Ghost (Hanna John-Kamen), Red Guardian (David Harbour), Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), US Agent (Wyatt Russell), and Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko).
These characters will be brought together, likely by la Fontaine herself, to fight a new threat now that the Avengers roster is still in flux. It is unclear whether they will be presented in their current forms or if they will be given new names and costumes like their comic book counterparts.
What Are the Thunderbolts Expected to Do?
- Release Date
- July 26, 2024
The team is being set up to fight a rather big bad by comic book standards. However, much like other MCU characters, he may be powered down to be evenly matched against his good-guy foes. Recently, actor Steven Yeun was hired to play Sentry, a scarily powerful superhero/supervillain often seen as Marvel’s copycat of Superman.
Wyatt Russell has teased the “interesting and different” approach to bringing Marvel’s Thunderbolts to the MCU.
Since we have heard little about how Yeun will play the character, we must go on the character’s comic book biography. Sentry is Robert Reynolds. Not realizing he has powers, Reynolds suddenly remembers his strength and is aware that his greatest foe, The Void, is returning to annihilate the Earth. He tries to tell other superheroes about it, but many do not remember that he ever existed. When other heroes begin to remember who Sentry is, they also remember that not only is Reynolds Sentry, but he also has a split personality, half of which is The Void. He is both the most significant threat and possible savior to the entire planet.
The big question is how this character could possibly be the bad guy in this film. Every character on the Thunderbolts team is a strictly on-the-ground punch/kick kind of hero. They’re stronger than the average person, but this is often due to augmentation rather than anything else. In this case, against this threat, they seem horrifically outgunned.
Marvel Studios has already woefully underpowered many heroes and villains to give them equal footing. Taskmaster, who is on this team and was the main antagonist in Black Widow, is a mastermind in the comics, often figuring out situations beforehand, monitoring heroes, and attacking with wit and charisma. However, the MCU made Taskmaster a mute, dead-eyed, and masked killer. Nothing more. They also gave a character like MODOK a long road to the MCU, making him hilariously useless and a gimmick. Marvel may end up squandering another great hero idea to give a team someone to fight.
In contrast, the DCEU had the entire Justice League fight Superman and essentially lose. And all of them were super-powered behemoths (sorry, Batman) who had trouble going toe-to-toe with him. If Sentry is anywhere near as strong as in the comics, he should be the next overall threat over multiple movies. And maybe he will be. Time will tell.
Is the MCU Ready for Another Team-Up?
Do we need another MCU team like the Thunderbolts? Of course! These are underutilized characters that people would love to see more of. But Marvel needs to remember how we got our favorite teams to begin with. The Avengers took nearly a decade to put together. The Guardians of the Galaxy came together through James Gunn’s intricate understanding of how these teams meet up.
However, in this case, it appears that we have such disparate characters that it feels more like a Suicide Squad than an Avengers movie. La Fontaine may not give them bombs in their necks, but she will be dangling something in front of them to fight. Many of them believe themselves to be born leaders, and the strife will continue at that point.
David Harbour reflects on the importance of the relationship between Red Guardian and Yelena Belova in Thunderbolts.
James Gunn perfected the art of bringing a random team together for a single cause. The question is whether any other director can do so under the severe rules of the MCU. Also, if Thunderbolts is meant to be a one-shot deal, does the director have the time to give everyone their due while giving enough time to the actual story? Or will it be a series of vignettes designed only for crowd-pleasing? We already saw how that worked for David Ayers’ Suicide Squad. Let’s hope this time, the MCU doesn’t run into the same problems.
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