Thanks to Marvel Studios' presentations at San Diego Comic-Con and the D23 Fan Expo, MCU fans are eagerly anticipating the debut of Thunderbolts, the final movie in Phase 5.
This new outing will serve as the next Phase's team-up movie instead of an Avengers-centric outing, throwing darker characters from all across the MCU timeline into play alongside one another. Leading the way in this effort will be Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova, a breakout star from Phase 4, although she'll also have key veterans like Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier and Wyatt Russell's U.S. Agent alongside her.
A Thunderbolts movie has been in the rumor mill for the better part of the last two years, mainly being discussed once The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ended in April 2021. And while Marvel Studios is known for planning out its stories well ahead of their releases, it's unclear how long some of its biggest stars have officially been signed on to reprise their role in next year's summer blockbuster.
Now, one of the main cast has actually shared how long she's been attached, which sets her into place far before any of her co-stars.
One Thunderbolts Star Cast Before the Rest
In a chat with Extra from the D23 Fan Expo, Thunderbolts cast members Wyatt Russell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Sebastian Stan discussed how long they've been aware of their casting in the antihero team-up movie.
While Russell and Stan admitted that they were not in the know until recently, Louis-Dreyfus revealed that Marvel Studios had informed her a while ago that she'd be back as Val in Thunderbolts. Stan then commented how Louis-Dreyfus' early knowledge of the project is fitting considering Val's presumed role as the Nick Fury-type recruiter in the film:
ExtraTV: “I feel like we’ve been waiting for this cast announcement for so long. How long have you guys had to keep it a secret and how did it feel out there?”
Stan: “I don’t think any of us knew, maybe you did…?”
Louis-Dreyfus: “I think did… I actually knew.”
Russell: “Oh nice. Nice. I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.”
Russell: “I mean, I knew…”
Stan: “It was good, because it sort of, kind of plays into the show that we had and sort of when you came in, there was a plan, so that so far reality is matching well.”
The trio also spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about their experience at D23 and where they are in the process of actually making Thunderbolts a reality.
When asked about the reception they received on stage, Louis-Dreyfus called it "surreal" while also admitting to it being "strange" since they haven't put in any work on the film yet."
Louis-Dreyfus: “Somewhat surreal and we’re delighted to be here, of course, but we haven’t made the movie yet… so it’s kind of a strange, backwards experience, but we’re stoked.”
Stan: “… That’s a really good point that I always forget, you’re like, it starts off really well and hopefully it ends the same way… but it’s nice that people are excited.”
She and Russell also confirmed that they couldn't answer any questions about the script or story when asked if they had seen anything yet:
Louis-Dreyfus: “We cannot answer that question.”
Russell: “No, yeah… there’s a lot of questions we can’t answer. That’s the number one we can’t answer.”
Louis-Dreyfus did, however, share what the best part of her experience was at D23 along with being a part of the Marvel family, revealing that her kids "are very impressed" with what she's now doing as part of her work.
Val Star Knew About Thunderbolts First
Julia Louis-Dreyfus first made her mark on the MCU as Valentina Allegra di Fontaine in Episode 5 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, instantly setting up the potential for a Thunderbolts-related storyline upon her arrival. It only makes sense that she'd be the first one to know about her future movie as the leader of the team on-screen, especially with the roster likely having been worked on for a long time as the Multiverse Saga came together.
With there still being nearly two years until Thunderbolts releases in theaters, it's no surprise that the actors involved don't know anything about the story yet, as filming most likely won't begin until sometime in 2023. This also leaves time for other potential cast members to join the fray, especially with new story threads potentially being set up before Phase 4 ends and through Phase 5.
After appearing both on Disney+ and in the post-credits scene for 2021's Black Widow, Val has already established herself as a key figure in the story, with Louis-Dreyfus already ahead of the game in relation to at least a few of her co-stars. Where she shows up next is more of a question mark, but she'll be someone important to follow in the next couple of years.
Thunderbolts will debut in theaters on July 26, 2024