In recent days, rumors swirled that Han Solo actor Harrison Ford had been cast in 2024's Thunderbolts as Secretary Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross. The report indicated Ford either was or is Marvel Studios' top choice to tackle the recast Ross in Thunderbolts, but it was unclear on whether this was a done deal.
William Hurt previously played the government chief from The Incredible Hulk until Black Widow, although the MCU veteran passed away earlier this year. Ford would replace Hurt as the Thunderbolts namesake after 13 years of occupying the role across five MCU outings.
Now, Marvel Studios appears interested in keeping Ross around in the MCU with a role in 2024's Thunderbolts next on the cards. Ford already has a relationship with Disney having returned as Han Solo for The Force Awakens and just recently starred in Indiana Jones 5 - which saw its first taste of spotlight at D23.
Who knows when Ford's MCU casting will be made official, but it appears that if Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige had his way, it would have already happened last month at D23.
Harrison Ford Almost Joined the MCU at D23
Speaking on The Hot Mic Podcast, The Ankler's Jeff Sneider, who previously broke the news that Harrison Ford is being lined up to play a recast Secretary Ross in Thunderbolts, has claimed Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy prevented the announcement from being made at D23.
According to Sneider, Ford's casting was "a done deal for D23" but the Lucasfilm President "put her foot down" in a bid to keep the focus on Indiana Jones 5, as opposed to allowing the discussion to shift to Ford joining the MCU:
"So what I initially heard is that this was a done deal for D23, that they actually wanted to announce him as a cast member in Thunderbolts at D23 but that they didn't because Kathleen Kennedy put her foot down and said, 'No, we're going to keep the focus on Indiana Jones 5 content, I don't want this to becoming Harrison Ford joining the MCU, we're going to keep the focus on Indy 5 right now.'"
Is Harrison Ford Really Joining the MCU?
Based on Sneider's comments, Harrison Ford replaced William Hurt as "Thunderbolt" Ross appears to be a done deal. With D23 being the first major showcase for Indiana Jones 5, Kathleen Kennedy may have been wise to keep the focus on that, as opposed to pulling it over to Ford's MCU future.
Nonetheless, recasting Hurt as Ross will undoubtedly prove controversial, especially after Marvel Studios insisted on not replacing Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa after his death. One can only wonder what led to the decision that scenario was different from this, but it likely indicates major plans for Ross.
Given Ross shares a military nickname with the Thunderbolts, perhaps he will be the one to assemble the team in the 2024 flick. Maybe Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Valentina was sent even sent by Ross to recruit the likes of US Agent and Yelena Belova as he aims to form the Thunderbolts under his watchful eye.
As the MCU veteran was a driving force behind the Sokovia Accords and was eager to bring the Avengers under government control, forming his own team that he can order into battle would be perfectly in character for Ross. But whether he will enter the field himself brings a whole separate question.
in Marvel Comics, Ross famously becomes Red Hulk, having required gamma-infused abilities from AIM and Intelligencia. Interestingly enough, the latter just entered the MCU on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and appears hell bent on making more Hulks, so this may be the direction Marvel Studios is going.
Of course, at 80 years old and having just recently suffered injury on the set of Indiana Jones 5, he likely won't be interested in getting involved in much action. This will allow Ford to be a powerful player in the MCU in a major role while a stand-in handles the motion capture for any Red Hulk action.
Thunderbolts hits theaters on July 26, 2024, but Indiana Jones 5 will arrive before then on June 30, 2023.