Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest movie franchise of all time. Marvel Studios announced Phase 5 of the franchise at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, and one of the bigger surprises at the presentation was Kevin Feige announcing that Thunderbolts will finally join the MCU.
For those who don’t know, Thunderbolts can be described as “Marvel’s Suicide Squad”. In other words, we’re talking about a team of anti-heroes and villains who are assembled by the US government to fight some bigger threats. At the D23 Presentation in September 2022, Marvel Studios officially announced seven cast members, which are all already known faces to the MCU fans, and the following month, it was confirmed that Star Wars and Indiana Jones star Harrison Ford also joined the cast.
So, let’s take a look at every actor and character that will appear in the upcoming Thunderbolts movie. We will update this article as new information will arrive. Directed by Jake Schreier, Thunderbolts is set to be released on July 26, 2024!
Thaddeus Ross (Harrison Ford)
The MCU fans are very familiar with the character of Secretary Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross, who we first met in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton. William Hurt played the character in that movie, and he also reprised the role in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Widow.
After William Hurt passed away in March 2022, and Marvel Studios announced Thunderbolts in July, the question about the role of Ross arose. In October 2022, Marvel Studios announced that Star Wars and Indiana Jones star Harrison Ford will join the franchise as the new Thunderbolt Ross, who is also known as the Red Hulk in comic books. Is Ford’s Ross finally going to become the Red Hulk, remains to be seen.
Harrison Ford has also been confirmed to play Ross in Captain America: New World Order, which is set to be released in May 2024, two months ahead of Thunderbolts.
Yelena Belova/Black Widow (Florence Pugh)
When some known character leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can always count that some new character with similar abilities will come to take that character’s place. In Avengers: Endgame, we had to say farewell to Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow.
In 2021, Johannson played the role for the last time in her solo movie which introduced Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, a new Black Widow who later returned in the Hawkeye TV series, and now she’s set to return in Thunderbolts. Previous reports have said that she should be one of the team’s leaders.
Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)
Out of all the actors who will star in Thunderbolts, Sebastian Stan is definitely the biggest MCU veteran. Stan joined the franchise as Steve Rogers’ best friend in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. He later reprised the role in both Captain America sequels, post-credit scenes of Ant-Man and Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
Following the conclusion of the Infinity Saga, Stan continued to play the role in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series on Disney+. At the D23 Presentation in September 2022, Marvel Studios confirmed that Stan will play Bucky Barnes again in Thunderbolts. When Thunderbolts hits theaters, Stan will have 13 years of experience in the MCU.
Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour)
Although the Black Widow movie served as the end of the road for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, it was the beginning of two new characters. Not only for Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, but also for Alexei Shostakov aka Red Guardian, who was played by Stranger Things star David Harbour.
The easiest way to describe Red Guardian would be to call him “the Soviet Captain America”. Harbour played the character for the first time in the Black Widow movie, and although it wasn’t clear where his MCU path will go from there, we got the confirmation that he will return in Thunderbolts.
We are expecting that he will be one of those characters who serve as comic relief in the MCU movies.
John Walker/U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell)
Following the conclusion of the Infinity Saga and Steve Rogers leaving his duty as Captain America, the world needed a new star-spangled man with a plan. Although Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson was given the shield by Steve Rogers himself, Wilson refused to take the shield at first and the government gave it to John Walker, who wasn’t really worthy of it.
After Sam decided to take the shield and become the new Captain America after all, John Walker was recruited by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine to become the U.S. Agent. The ending of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has set up John Walker’s MCU path which will continue in the upcoming Thunderbolts movie.
Ava Starr/Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen)
Hannah John-Kamen played the main villain Ava Starr, also known as Ghost, in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Although it seemed like her path ended in that movie after she was cured of her condition by Janet van Dyne, it was announced that she will return in Thunderbolts. Still, this begs the question, how will she be the Ghost again if she cannot use her ability to phase anymore?
True, she’s still a trained and skillful mercenary, but if her powers that made her the Ghost in the first place are gone, there’s a question of what will be her role in the movie. We can only wait to find that out.
Antonia Dreykov/Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko)
The third character that we have met in the Black Widow movie that will return in Thunderbolts is Taskmaster. Taskmaster served as the antagonist in the Black Widow movie, and it was later revealed that behind the mask is Antonia Dreykov, daughter of General Dreykov who controlled her mind and body to do his dirty work.
Although the character wasn’t well received by the fans, particularly because her character development was awfully similar to Bucky’s story in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Black Widow movie still ended for her in a good way. She was freed from Dreykov’s control, which allowed her to escape and rebuild her life. Still, that doesn’t mean she’s done with being Taskmaster, as it was confirmed that she will return in Thunderbolts.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
We have previously said that Thunderbolts can be described as “Marvel’s Suicide Squad”, and in that way, we can say that Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is “Marvel’s Amanda Waller”. Julia Louis-Dreyfus played the character in the post-credit scene of Black Widow and she had a minor role in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is an associate of an organization that recruits powerful individuals, so it seems obvious that she will finally have a larger role in the MCU in the upcoming Thunderbolts movie, which was confirmed by the studio at D23 Expo. We didn’t see a lot from her in the MCU so far, but Thunderbolts will be the movie where Julia Louis-Dreyfus will shine in this role.
Possible and/or Expected Characters
Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl)
Daniel Brühl played the main villain Helmut Zemo in Captain America: Civil War. He orchestrated almost the entire war between Captain America and Iron Man in an effort to get revenge for his deceased family which was tragic collater damage during the Battle of Sokovia.
Zemo was later arrested and imprisoned, but he returned in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series, where he wore his known coat and the purple mask for which Zemo is known in the source material. He was rearrested later by the Dora Milaje and imprisoned in the Raft.
Although imprisoned, Zemo is still alive which theoretically could mean that he’ll return to the MCU again. And considering that Zemo is one of the most known members of the Thunderbolts in the comic books, it doesn’t seem right to make a Thunderbolts movie and keep Zemo in prison to just sit it out.
What surprised fans the most is that Brühl wasn’t announced when the studio officially revealed the first members of the cast, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t appear in the movie at all.
Emil Blonsky/Abomination (Tim Roth)
We have previously met the Abomination in The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton. 13 years later, he had a cameo in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and he had a bigger role in the She-Hulk series which concluded in October 2022 with Blonsky going back to prison for violating his parole.
Although Roth wasn’t announced for Thunderbolts at D23, have in mind that that presentation was held while the She-Hulk series was still ongoing, so announcing him for the movie then would’ve probably spoiled the ending for the character in the series.
In the post-credit scene of She-Hulk’s finale, Blonsky was freed from prison by Wong, which indicates that we haven’t seen the last of him in the MCU, and Thunderbolts seem like a perfect opportunity to continue his MCU story.
So far, we have eight confirmed cast members for Thunderbolts, and considering that the movie is still pretty far away, we cannot wait for new information. So stay tuned.
Written by Eric Pearson and directed by Jake Schreier, Thunderbolts is set to be released on July 26, 2024.