Why James Gunn No Longer Wants To Direct Marvel Studios' Thunderbolts Movie

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Updated:
James Gunn, Thunderbolt Ross, Marvel Studios logo

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is filled with different heroes and villains, and the roster is only getting bigger in Phase 4. After a successful Infinity Saga chapter, the MCU is poised to introduce new storylines, teams, and conflicts, and an intriguing prospect is the potential of the villainous group known as the Thunderbolts

Created by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, the Thunderbolts is a team of villains who posed as superheroes to gain the admiration of the government and the public.

The group is often compared to DC's Suicide Squad, mainly due to the premise that these villains are being sent out on high-stakes missions to protect the world from dangerous threats. However, unlike the DC team, the Thunderbolts are led by a popular Marvel villain with a vast amount of resources, such as Baron Zemo or Norman Osborn, instead of a governmental figure like DC's Amanda Waller. 

So far, the MCU delivered a plethora of hints that this villainous group will soon arrive, with the most recent one coming from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

It remains to be seen when a full-blown Thunderbolts reveal will happen, but it seems that one MCU director may have stepped away from taking over the Marvel project. 


Thunderbolts comics

In an Instagram Q&A, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was asked if he would be willing to direct a potential Thunderbolts project for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

The director responded by saying that helming the DCEU's The Suicide Squad “scratched that itch” for him:

James Gunn Instagram



It's unfortunate that a renowned director like James Gunn is not up for for directing a potential Thunderbolts film or series, but it seems that it would be for the best. If Marvel decided to pick the Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker to direct Thunderbolts, it's a safe bet that fans would compare this project to The Suicide Squad. 

Many would agree that it would be best for the Thunderbolts project to receive a fresh face to serve as a director. This creates an opportunity for the show to showcase a bold new story that could propel the villainous group to greater heights, potentially turning them into relatable characters. 

Gunn's MCU future is unknown after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but he did claim that it's “never say never” for a fourth film for the cosmic-based franchise. It looks like directing a Thunderbolts film or series is off the table, but the director can easily return to helm another Marvel film in the future. 

The in-universe status of the MCU is in shambles after the game-changing events of Avengers: Endgame, and this creates a perfect setup for a group posing as superheroes like the Thunderbolts to enter the fray. This is on top of the fact that the current status of the Avengers is unknown, thus further cementing the need for such a team.

The forthcoming introduction of the Thunderbolts presents story opportunities that could change the MCU in numerous ways. 

- In This Article: Thunderbolts
- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.