Summary

  • Thunderbolts, part of the MCU timeline, will feature a darker Avengers-style team led by Jake Schreier and Lee Sung Jin.
  • Marvel Studios Chief Kevin Feige revealed the principal cast at D23 Expo, bringing back morally questionable MCU characters.
  • Thunderbolts will follow antiheroes and reformed villains, acting as a sequel to previous MCU projects with a focus on a government-funded team.



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Several MCU characters return for Marvel Studios’ Thunderbolts, putting a darker spin on an Avengers-style superhero team. Thunderbolts was officially announced as part of the MCU timeline in July 2022, with Beef’s Jake Schreier set to direct and Thor: Ragnarok and Black Widow writer Eric Pearson attached to the script, though he would later be replaced by Beef‘s Lee Sung Jin. At 2022’s D23 Expo, after several Phase 4 projects teased the debut of the Thunderbolts, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige unveiled the principal cast for the film, marking the returns of several MCU actors who had previously portrayed morally questionable characters.


Thunderbolts will act as a sequel to projects such as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Black Widow, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Captain America: New World Order, bringing together several antiheroes and reformed villains who otherwise wouldn’t have met. Initially, the casting of three actors from Black Widow and the return of Pearson as writer led to speculation that Thunderbolts would be a pseudo-sequel to the Phase 4 film, but Lee Sung Jin’s rewrites are thought to have shifted the focus. Scheduled for release on July 26, 2024, Thunderbolts boasts an impressive cast for the upcoming MCU movie to utilize.

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Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes, A.K.A. The Winter Soldier


Sebastian Stan debuted as Bucky Barnes in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger as the childhood friend of Steve Rogers, who fought alongside Captain America as a member of the Howling Commandos. After apparently falling to his death, Bucky was taken captive by Hydra and turned into the Winter Soldier, a super soldier and lethal assassin, though he was eventually broken free of this conditioning after the events of Captain America: Civil War.

After this, Bucky was dubbed the “White Wolf” by the people of Wakanda, who helped him rehabilitate and begin to undo the effects that years of existing as a human weapon had on the hero. Bucky then helped Sam Wilson transition into the MCU’s new Captain America, and is set to appear in Thunderbolts as a key member of the new team.

Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, A.K.A. Black Widow

florence pugh as yelena belova black widow in Black Widow aiming a gun


During Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff reunited with her surrogate family, including her sister, Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova. Both Romanoff and Yelena were trained in the Red Room to be Black Widow assassins, and while Romanoff joined SHIELD, Yelena spent years following General Dreykov’s commands.

She was finally freed in Black Widow and helped to free the other women while bringing down the Red Room, though she has since fallen under the employ of Valentina, who sent her to kill Clint Barton during Hawkeye. After learning the truth of Black Widow’s sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, Yelena spared Barton’s life, yet somehow still found herself joining the Thunderbolts in Phase 5.

Wyatt Russell as John Walker, A.K.A. US Agent

John Walker in his full Captain America costume in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier


The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuted Wyatt Russell as John Walker, the man who assumed the Captain America moniker in the wake of Steve Rogers’ retirement and Sam Wilson’s refusal to accept the role. While Walker seemed like the perfect candidate to become Captain America, his temper, ego, and pride led to him becoming a twisted version of the patriotic hero, even to the point of bludgeoning a Flag Smasher to death with the shield.

Though he was fired from this coveted position, Valentina recruited Walker and transformed him into US Agent. With the super-soldier serum in his veins, he makes a strong, if unstable, addition to the Thunderbolts.

David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov, A.K.A. Red Guardian

david harbour as alexei shostakov red guardian in Black Widow

The second Black Widow character on Thunderbolts’ roster comes in the form of Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova’s father figure, Alexei. David Harbour debuted as the Russian super soldier in the MCU’s Phase 4, the Soviet’s answer to the United States’ Captain America.


Alexei was given a version of the super-soldier serum during the Cold War and fought for years in the Soviet military. After his ally, General Dreykov, had him incarcerated, Alexei sought revenge, helping his daughters to eliminate the Red Room in Black Widow. The Red Guardian is one of three super soldiers on the Thunderbolts team, so the balance of power will be interesting to explore.

Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr, A.K.A. Ghost

hannah john kamen as ava starr ghost in Ant-Man 2 looking off-screen in her suit

Originally thought to be a one-and-done villain for Ant-Man and the Wasp, Ava Starr, a.k.a. Ghost, is set to make her MCU return in Thunderbolts. Hannah John-Kamen debuted as the villain in the MCU’s Phase 3, revealed to have gained the ability to make herself intangible and generate huge amounts of power after a quantum accident that orphaned her as a child.


Ghost was taken under the wing of then-SHIELD employee Bill Foster, but neither has been seen nor mentioned since Ant-Man and the Wasp. With Laurence Fishburne set to reprise the role of Foster for What If…? season 2, it’s great to see John-Kamen returning as Ghost for Thunderbolts.

Olga Kurylenko as Antonia Dreykov, A.K.A. Taskmaster

As the daughter of General Dreykov, Taskmaster is the third character from Black Widow to have a role in Thunderbolts. After being presumably killed by Natasha Romanoff to guarantee her defection to SHIELD, Antonia Dreykov was transformed into the Taskmaster.

A chip installed in her body allowed her father to control her every move while also gifting her uncanny mimicking techniques that allowed her to perfectly copy the fighting styles of anyone she watched, including members of the Avengers. Freed at the end of Black Widow, Antonia’s MCU future was unclear before her casting in Thunderbolts, a film that will see her reunite with Yelena and the Red Guardian.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine

julia louis dreyfus as contessa valentina allegra de fontaine in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier looking off-screen

Julia Louis-Dreyfus debuted as the mysterious Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (“Val”) in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, recruiting John Walker for an unknown purpose. Her next appearance was during Black Widow’s post-credits scene, which featured her sending Yelena Belova to assassinate Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye.

However, it was Black Panther: Wakanda Forever that finally started to explain who Val is, as she was revealed to be not only the ex-wife to Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross but also the Director of the CIA in the MCU. This suggests that the Thunderbolts are a government-funded team, though what Val’s purpose for the team actually involves is yet to become clear.


Harrison Ford as President Thaddeus Ross

Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

The late William Hurt originally portrayed General Thaddeus Ross in various MCU projects, including The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Black Widow. However, after the legendary actor’s 2022 passing, Star Wars and Indiana Jones star Harrison Ford was recast in the role, set to make his debut as Ross in Captain America: New World Order.

Throughout his MCU career, Ross has worked his way up from General to Secretary of State, and Kevin Feige has revealed that Ross will be the United States’ new President in New World Order and Thunderbolts, which makes his potential transformation into the Red Hulk even more terrifying.

Thunderbolts Supporting Cast & Characters

Thunderbolts MCU movie poster showing the team stood together


Confirmed Thunderbolts Cast Member

Character The Actor Plays

Sebastian Stan

James “Bucky” Barnes, A.K.A. The Winter Soldier

Florence Pugh

Yelena Belova, A.K.A. Black Widow

Wyatt Russell

John Walker, A.K.A. US Agent

David Harbour

Alexei Shostakov, A.K.A. Red Guardian

Hannah John-Kamen

Ava Starr, A.K.A. Ghost

Olga Kurylenko

Antonia Dreykov, A.K.A. Taskmaster

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine

Harrison Ford

President Thaddeus Ross

Geraldine Viswanathan

Unconfirmed

Lewis Pullman

Unconfirmed


Geraldine Viswanathan – In January 2023, it was reported that Ayo Edebiri had joined the cast of Thunderbolts in an undisclosed role. A year later, Edebiri stepped down from the role, reportedly because of time constraints, leading Geraldine Viswanathan to replace her as a still currently unknown character. Viswanathan took to social media to playfully thank her predecessor for being “too booked” to continue on in the role. Geraldine Viswanathan is best known for her role in the main cast of Miracle Workers, though she also notably voiced Tawnie in BoJack Horseman season 6.

Lewis Pullman – Similar to Geraldine Viswanathan, Pullman’s casting was reported in January 2024, with him replacing Steven Yeun after the latter actor’s departure from the MCU production. Though it’s still not officially confirmed, the role Pullman steps into is popularly believed to be that of Marvel’s Sentry, a powerful superhero often compared to DC’s Superman. Lewis Pullman is most well known for playing Robert “Bob” Floyd in Top Gun: Maverick, but may also be recognizable to neo-noir fans as Miles Miller from the 2018 movie Bad Times At The El Royale.


Steven Yeun Departed Thunderbolts In January 2024

Star of The Walking Dead, Nope, and Invincible, Steven Yeun was cast in Thunderbolts in February 2023, apparently in a key role, which has been all but confirmed to be Sentry. Yeun recently worked with both Lee Sung Jin and Jake Schreier on Netflix’s Beef, so his involvement in Thunderbolts alongside his previous collaborators was an exciting prospect. Unfortunately, Yeun backed out from Thunderbolts in January 2024 due to scheduling issues caused by delays in production.

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