Thanks to Marvel Studios' San Diego Comic-Con presentation, fans have more than a handful of thrilling new projects to look forward to in Phases 4, 5, and 6 of the MCU. Included in that slate is the first official team-up outing that won't feature the Avengers, which comes with the newly-announced Thunderbolts movie arriving in Summer 2024.
Having been rumored for some time before Comic-Con, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that Thunderbolts would be the last project of Phase 5, which runs a dozen projects deep for now. Jake Schreier was hired in early June to direct the movie, and shortly after that news became public, Black Widow writer Eric Pearson announced his involvement in this unique new addition to the MCU.
The Thunderbolts are known as one of Marvel's biggest teams of villains in the comics, and they look to change the game in the MCU after four Avengers movies and other team-up stories centered on the MCU's exciting heroes. But now, as this new solo movie becomes an official part of Marvel Studios' upcoming slate, its official press release teases some exciting details to keep in mind.
Thunderbolts: Marvel Teases Surprising New Heroes
Following its announcement at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Disney unveiled the official press release for Marvel Studios' Thunderbolts, which was just confirmed to be in development.
The press release described the movie's titular team as "an exciting new group of heroes" as their new movie prepares for its release on July 26, 2024.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige also hinted at what to expect from Thunderbolts during the presentation, noting that "Phase  will culminate" with this movie. He also teased that there will be more announcements that "go through the team another day," letting fans know that there will be "more surprises" on the way:
"...and we will go through the team another day. There are many more surprises to come.
Who will be in the MCU's Thunderbolts Team?
Looking at Feige's comments about "more surprises to come," it seems that fans may only have to wait a few weeks for more thrilling information on Thunderbolts from Disney's D23 conference.
Now that the Multiverse Saga is out in the open, Disney's own fan gathering seems like the perfect place to announce more concrete information about who will be involved in the story. This will also be closer to the end of Phase 4 with She-Hulk: Attorney at Law about halfway through its run on Disney+ and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever only a couple of months away from its release.
The bigger question with regard to this news: who exactly will comprise this "exciting new group of heroes" as the Thunderbolts officially assemble for the first time in the MCU. Thankfully, Phase 4 already holds a few of those answers thanks to what's been released so far.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced Valentina Allegra de Fontaine as the group's potential leader or backer, and Wyatt Russell's John Walker seems to fit the bill for inclusion as he moves towards his US Agent mantle. That series also saw the return of Daniel Brühl's Helmut Zemo, who remains as dangerous as ever even while he's locked up in the Raft, and even Bucky Barnes could be in line for a role with the team.
Val also interacted with Yelena Belova in the post-credits scene from Black Widow, setting her on a mission to kill Clint Barton and tapping into the vengeance she sought after Natasha Romanoff's death. That same movie brought Olga Kurylenko's Taskmaster into the fray, which is especially important since she remains alive after the Red Room was taken down.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings brought two other important potential members thanks to Xu Xialing's Macau fight club, one of them being Xialing herself now that she's running the entire Ten Rings organization. That fight club also featured the return of Tim Roth's Abomination before he comes back again in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, setting him up for another potential rampage if he becomes one of the Thunderbolts.
There are also more potential inclusions from other MCU movies such as Ant-Man and the Wasp's Ghost, Iron Man 2's Justin Hammer, or even the Punisher depending on whether Marvel brings him over from the Netflix stories. No matter who comprises the final team, it will be a formidable one, although that also leaves the question of how they'll make their presence felt in the MCU.
How Will The Thunderbolts Be Introduced?
Feige shared that the MCU's Thunderbolts will be seen as heroes within the MCU, although they're known best as more of a villainous entity in the comics. The potential members of the MCU's team range from redeemed heroes to suspicious anti-heroes and everything in-between, meaning that their reason for teaming up will be something that keeps fans on their toes.
At the very least, Marvel has a meaningful way to name the team in the MCU thanks to the late William Hurt's Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross. With Hurt having unfortunately passed away, the MCU could have his character meet his end in the story after numerous heart surgeries, leading to Val or another key player naming the team "The Thunderbolts" after Ross' influence over the story.
Most of these characters also aren't officially set to return at any point in Phase 5 before Thunderbolts releases, although things could very well change over the next couple of years in that regard. However this team is brought into play, they will deliver something never seen before in MCU history as a team of darker heroes and villains take the spotlight all for themselves.
Thunderbolts will debut in theaters on July 26, 2024 as the final film of the MCU's Phase 5.