Currently set to release on December 20, 2024, Thunderbolts will follow a team of MCU antiheroes, including US Agent, Bucky Barnes, Ghost, Red Guardian, Yelena Belova, Taskmaker, and Val, the latter four who were all introduced in 2021's Black Widow movie.
But despite a stacked Black Widow-centric cast, and previous claims about Thunderbolts' sequel status, the Thunderbolts director now says the opposite.
Thunderbolts Is Not Black Widow 2
According to director Jake Schreier, 2024's Thunderbolts is "not a sequel" to 2021's Black Widow.
In addition to the film starring four Black Widow characters, the idea of Thunderbolts being a sort of sequel first surfaced when Andy Park, Marvel Studios Director of Visual Development, posted that the Phase 5 film was like "a Black Widow sequel:"
"Taskmaster, the Red Guardian, Yelena AND Valentina Allegra de Fontaine will be returning in the upcoming 'THUNDERBOLTS' film. It’s like it’s a 'Black Widow' sequel & these these movies are connected or something! ;) It’s gonna get interesting"
But in talking to Collider, Schreier claimed Thunderbolts isn't a sequel at all, describing it as "different" and rather "a new kind of story:"
“It was just a really different approach and a new kind of story to tell amidst that, which I know they’ve made so many things, but it's not a sequel."
As for the return of Scarlett Johansson's MCU co-stars, the director acknowledged that, saying, "Yes, these characters have appeared before," but, again, teased Thunderbolts "new" narrative and a "perspective" fans aren't anticipating:
"Yes, these characters have appeared before, but it is a new story being told and a story, I think, with a very different perspective than maybe people aren't expecting, and I think that that felt exciting and felt like a real challenge worth taking on.”
Thunderbolts Still Has Black Widow Connections
Thunderbolts may not be Black Widow 2, but that doesn't mean the film won't highlight Black Widow's former cast.
In fact, Jake Schreier's comments suggest the opposite in that he claims Thunderbolts is "about characters" and "something specific" that brings this misfit team together.
If so, it's unlikely events from the Scarlett Johansson film won't play a part, particularly in terms of Taskmaster and Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova.
In a way, both Schreier and Andy Park could've meant the same thing in that Thunderbolts will continue the tale of Black Widow's characters, just not the plot of Black Widow itself.
However, it's also possible that Park was telling the truth, at the time.
Andy Park posted his sequel comments back in January and before rumors that Thunderbolts was being reworked for being "too focused on the Black Widow characters."
Whether this Phase 5 film was originally supposed to be Black Widow 2 is unknown.
The bigger question now is when this movie will actually get underway.
Prior to the start of filming, Thunderbolts production was suspended due to the Writers Guild of America strike.
Until the WGA and now SAG-AFTRA strikes are resolved, Thunderbolts' production will remain paused.
Thunderbolts is currently slated to arrive in theaters on December 20, 2024.