Summary

  • Thunderbolts needs to maintain their morally gray anti-hero status to stay true to their comic book roots and keep their dynamic unique.
  • Avoiding redemption arcs for each character is crucial to maintain the team’s individualistic and cynical nature within the MCU storyline.
  • The clash between former villains and anti-heroes will make Thunderbolts a highly anticipated film, offering a fresh take on hero team-ups.



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Marvel’s Thunderbolts needs to make sure that the new superhero team avoids breaking one big MCU rule. While not much has yet been revealed about the plot of Thunderbolts, its main cast has been revealed. Composed of Bucky Barnes, Yelena Belova, U.S. Agent, Ghost, Red Guardian, and Taskmaster, a key defining trait of the Thunderbolts in the comics is that each individual is a reformed supervillain of some sort. The team of anti-heroes will be the first of their kind in the MCU timeline.


To make Thunderbolts successful, it’ll be important for all of the characters to stay true to who they are. It’ll be tempting for Marvel to give all of the Thunderbolts some sort of redemption arc that will turn them into full-fledged honorable heroes by the end of the film, but that wouldn’t be nearly as effective as keeping them as morally gray anti-heroes. Hollywood has a habit of giving villains redemption arcs and the MCU is guilty of that trope too, but that’s not who the members of the Thunderbolts are.

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Marvel’s Thunderbolts Are Anti-Heroes To Their Core

John Walker surveys the crowd after killing a Flag Smasher in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier


The MCU has given several former villains redemption arcs before, such as Loki and Nebula. The trope of redemption fit with the direction their characters were going in and the company they were keeping. However, the same can’t be said for the Thunderbolts since to their core, they are truly anti-heroes. That doesn’t mean that the team’s members are necessarily bad people. In fact, most of the members have shown huge moments of caring and compassion – they just don’t have the traits of a classic hero.

Most members of the Thunderbolts have an individualistic way of operating, usually prioritizing their own goals before anything else. Especially with where each member is in their MCU arc now, they’ll be going into Thunderbolts operating alone, so it makes sense that they’ll be slightly cynical and wary to trust characters with questionable pasts. That’s what contributes to their morally gray actions and anti-hero behavior, and Marvel has to make sure that they don’t take away what makes the Thunderbolts unique by giving them all honorable redemption arcs.


Being Anti-Heroes Is What Makes The Thunderbolts Dynamic Highly Anticipated

Thunderbolts line-up in the MCU's Phase 5

Out of the MCU hero team-ups that Marvel has developed, the Thunderbolts are unique as there hasn’t really been a team of anti-heroes like them. Teams like the Avengers began with some inner conflict, but quickly learned to work together for the sake of the world. On the other hand, the Guardians of the Galaxy did arguably start as relative anti-heroes, but can now be considered fully redeemed.

As such, the most exciting part of Thunderbolts will be seeing how an anti-hero group clashes with each other when there’s genuine villains – and former villains – added into the mix. Putting them at peace with each other will just turn them into any other classic hero group.


Thunderbolts is already a highly-anticipated upcoming MCU film as it features a team-up of characters that fans are already familiar with. What makes the Thunderbolts members unique is that they are anti-heroes to their core. The MCU is no stranger to giving villains redemption arcs, but that is a trope they will have to hold off on with the Thunderbolts. Fans are excited to see this team up because while the Thunderbolts aren’t Marvel’s worst figures, they are all morally gray. If Thunderbolts can avoid the trope of redemption arcs as a solution, the film will be all the more effective.

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