Summary

  • Marvel’s Thunderbolts has been officially confirmed as the first MCU villain team-up movie, drawing in long-time Marvel readers and viewers.
  • The Thunderbolts lineup includes Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes and Harrison Ford as General “Thunderbolt” Ross.
  • The Thunderbolts movie will have strong ties to Black Widow and may depict the characters as anti-heroes rather than villains, with plot details being kept under wraps for now.



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After years of rumors, Marvel’s Thunderbolts has been officially confirmed, bringing the first MCU villain team-up movie to life. Way before the official announcement, the concept of a Thunderbolts movie drew heavy speculation from long-time Marvel readers and viewers for years. In MCU Phase 4, audiences deduced one could be in the works thanks to Valentina Allegra de Fontaine’s sneaky recruitment activities throughout The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow. Sure enough, many Thunderbolts cast members were confirmed at 2022’s D23 Expo, including Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes.


It was later announced that Bucky and the Thunderbolts would be joined by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, recast as Indiana Jones and Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. Ford’s Ross will also appear in Captain America: New World Order prior to Thunderbolts, and since the rest of the Thunderbolts’ team is drawn from preexisting characters in the MCU timeline, there’s a chance that movies and Marvel Disney+ shows released in the interim will add more members and story elements too. Here’s everything to know about Marvel’s Thunderbolts, from the release date to the MCU Thunderbolts lineup and their comic-book origins.

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Thunderbolts Latest News

MCU Thunderbolts line-up reveal in promotional art

Perhaps the most important recent information regarding Thunderbolts covers its newest release date, which is May 5, 2025. While the film was previously set for a 2024 holiday release date, it was then moved to July 2025, only for it to then be announced that Thunderbolts would be changing to a May 2025 release, and that the upcoming MCU movieThe Fantastic Four would instead go for the July 2025 premiere.

The Hollywood Reporter has also reported that the original script for Thunderbolts would’ve concluded with the team dying on their mission, providing a surprising twist for the movie. The alterations made from this reported initial plan both suggest the characters will not face such a brutal fate – ensuring at least some of their faces pop up again in the MCU – and also have left audiences even more intrigued in terms of what to expect from the film’s plot, which is seemingly more able to play with the heroes’ lives than many other Marvel installments.


Thunderbolts Movie Release Date

The thunderbolts MCU roster

The Thunderbolts movie announced its director, Jake Schreier, in 2022, and Black Widow‘s Eric Pearson was tapped to write the script. The movie was slated to begin shooting in June 2023, with the current Thunderbolts official release date being July, 25 2025. This date has been moved back more than once, with its previous release dates being December 20, 2024, and July, 26 2024, respectively. Thunderbolts has gone back and forth in terms of its place in the release schedule, but the villain team-up movie is now set as part of MCU’s Phase 6, helping establish this new era by being one of its earliest films, alongside Marvel’s Fantastic Four reboot movie.


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Thunderbolts Movie Cast

The official cast of Marvel’s Thunderbolts was announced at 2022’s D23 Expo, and it’s already stacked with recognizable faces that leave little room for more surprise returns. The Thunderbolts MCU lineup includes Contessa Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who appears to be stepping into the role of Thunderbolts leader. Joining her are Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Red Guardian (David Harbour), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), John Walker/U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell), Ava/Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), and of course, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes.


The 2023 announcements of Ayo Edebiri and Steven Yeun’s additions to the cast also saw more recent change, as in February 2024 it was revealed that both actors would be leaving the cast, with Ayo Edebiri being replaced in her undisclosed role by Geraldine Viswanathan, and Yeun’s reported role as Sentry instead being played by Lewis Pullman. There’s also still speculation that Tim Roth’s Abomination could join the team after his She-Hulk: Attorney At Law jailbreak.

Thunderbolts Movie Story

Custom image of Yelena pointing a gun with Red Guardian and Milena in background

At the moment, plot details for Thunderbolts are being kept well under wraps. However, there are plenty of directions the MCU could go with the Thunderbolts. With most of the characters already established, the movie can avoid any origin stories. Also, most of the Thunderbolt members in the movie are already far more sympathetic than their comic book counterparts, suggesting the movie will avoid depicting them as villains at first and simply make them anti-heroes.


What they could face is unclear, but it would not be a surprise to see the story of the Thunderbolts movie set up in a Disney+ show or two. Marvel Studios’ Director of Visual Department Andy Park also suggested the movie has strong ties to Black Widow. This isn’t a big surprise as the involvement of Yelena, Red Guardian, and Taskmaster makes it clear that a lot of those storylines will be carried over. It could mean that the movie also pays homage to one of the MCU’s original anti-heroes, Natasha Romanoff.

Thunderbolts Movie Trailer Release Predictions

Thunderbolts featuring Ghost, Red Guardian, Yelena, Buck, and Taskmaster


There isn’t a trailer for Marvel’s Thunderbolts yet, though it’s worth note that filming began in June 2023. Once principal filming and a suitable amount of pre-production have been completed, a trailer should shortly follow. Given Thunderbolts has been delayed considerably during its production, it seems a trailer is most likely to appear in the first half of 2025 as the MCU builds hype for its release, though nothing concrete has been revealed at this time.

Who Are Marvel’s Thunderbolts? The MCU Team Explained

Thunderbolts MCU Perfect Black Widow Sequel

In the comics, the first Thunderbolts are a group of reformed villains. The original team was started by Baron Zemo after the Avengers were killed, aiming to replace the Avengers and gain the trust of the public in another world domination plan. This is why, even though Daniel Brühl’s Zemo is yet to be included in the movie’s cast, many still expect Baron Zemo in Thunderbolts. Unknown to the rest of the world, this new team of “reformed” villains, the Thunderbolts, was actually Zemo’s Masters of Evil in disguise. However, this version of the Thunderbolts actually start to enjoy being seen as heroes and doing good, so end up overthrowing Zemo as their leader.


Throughout Marvel Comic’s history, the Thunderbolts’ lineup and leadership have changed significantly. The Thunderbolts name has been attached to multiple iterations, with various members leaving and joining the team. This includes Harrison Ford’s MCU character General “Thunderbolt” Ross, who led a version of the team as the Red Hulk. Across the many Thunderbolts lineups, one factor has remained consistent, however: the Thunderbolts are morally grayer than the Avengers.

Many casual viewers online have already noted the similarities. Both teams count villains in their lineup, after all. However, despite the on-paper idiosyncrasies between Thunderbolts’ and the Suicide Squad, they’re by no means the same. Marvel’s Thunderbolts will be very different from the Warner Bros/DC team it’s already drawn comparison to. Viewers unfamiliar with the Thunderbolts comics are naive to dismiss this Marvel project as a simple Disneyfied Suicide Squad, and not just because Marvel’s antihero team doesn’t have explosive chips in their necks or an R rating.


Is Harrison Ford Playing A Red Hulk In The MCU Thunderbolts?

Harrison Ford blended with an image of Thunderbolt Ross

Harrison Ford replacing the beloved William Hurt as Marvel Studios’ “Thunderbolt” Ross means that he could also become the MCU’s Red Hulk for Marvel’s Thunderbolts. In the comics, Ross’ obsession with defeating the Hulk led him to team up with some of the most dangerous criminal minds in the Marvel Universe on multiple occasions, including during World War Hulk. Composed of Ross, MODOK, the Leader, and Doc Samson, this World War Hulk villain team called themselves Intelligencia.

Like the more humorous and much sadder version of Intelligencia in She-Hulk, Ross and his allies used various techniques to siphon energy from the Hulk, which they used to transform Ross into Red Hulk. Later, after the Phoenix War, Ross led an iteration of the Thunderbolts composed of Venom, Punisher, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Mercy, the Leader, and Deadpool (who will be played by Ryan Reynolds in the MCU in Deadpool 3).


This is why Harrison Ford becoming “Thunderbolt” Ross — aka Red Hulk — is so noteworthy to many in the fandom. It’s a casting decision that could affect not just Marvel’s Thunderbolts, but also a range of confirmed and speculated MCU projects further down the line.

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