Love or hate the MCU, it needs to be given credit for consistently laying the groundwork for the future. This started as early as Iron Man when Nick Fury popped up for the first time in an end-credits scene. The layers have only gotten deeper since the Disney+ series have become part of the equation. Part of that has been seemingly building towards an MCU iteration of the Thunderbolts.
For those who don’t know, the Thunderbolts are a Marvel Comics team. In their first iteration, they were a group of villains masquerading as a team of new heroes. They’ve gone through several rosters changes as well different goals. What’s interesting is that there are already a few components of the team established in the MCU. They could easily be on the way.
Baron Zemo established the Thunderbolts
The first team of Thunderbolts was created by Baron Zemo. But he did it under the name and costume of an all-new hero named Citizen V. He brought together a team of villains, giving them all heroic identities. The goal was to gain the trust of authorities to make it easier for them to enact Zemo’s larger plans. And it worked to an extent.
Zemo is already well established in the MCU. He first popped up in Captain America: Civil War and was a major part of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. But the Disney+ series showed that Wakanda still wants revenge for the death of T’Chaka. If Zemo wants to be a continued presence in the MCU, he might need to adopt a new identity like Citizen V. Also, he’ll need to break out of jail.
Yelena Belova is always up for a fight
With the death of Natasha Romanoff in Avengers: Endgame, her adopted sister has seemingly taken on the mantle of the Black Widow. Florence Pugh’s debut as the character in the recent Black Widow film was nothing short of epic. She certainly left fans wanting more of the character, and the MCU will certainly be happy to oblige.
Yelena Belova was a member of a version of the Thunderbolts in the comics. She served alongside Eric O’Grady’s criminal version of Ant-Man and Ghost. In the MCU, her character might actually make more sense on this team than the Avengers. Belova has a much larger mean streak than Romanoff did and it’s unlikely that the Avengers would appreciate that.
Ghost could return as a member of the Thunderbolts
Ant-Man and the Wasp firmly established Hope van Dyne as one of the most iconic heroes in Marvel Comics. Together, she and Scott Lang will make their return in the upcoming third installment of their franchise. But the second movie did bring another character into the MCU, specifically a member of the Thunderbolts that is actually quite powerful.
The villain of the movie was Ghost, a young woman suffering from a debilitating condition. She was essential coming unglued from reality on a molecular level. Her death was imminent until Team Ant-Man saved her. At the same time, Ghost’s condition also gave her fantastic powers. The MCU iteration of Ghost is a lot different than the comic version. Still, she would make a lot of sense on the team.
General Thaddeus Ross is on the verge of an epic freak out
A constant thorn in the side of Hulk, General Ross made his debut in the all but forgotten Edward Norton film. The Incredible Hulk featured the debuts of several key characters from the Green Goliath’s pantheon. But most of them were never seen again after the movie essentially flopped and Mark Ruffalo took the role over.
Ross was the first to make his return and has become a general annoyance wherever possible. In the comics, he also has a Hulk problem. Specifically, he can become the Red Hulk who was also a member of the Thunderbolts. There have been no concrete indications that Ross is going to Hulk out any time soon. That being said, nothing is impossible in the MCU at this point.
Winter Soldier goes where he’s needed
Bucky has gone through a lot of changes during his time in the MCU. These days, he’s back to being a hero and is making amends for his Winter Soldier past alongside the new Captain America. Where that goes remains to be seen. What fans can be sure about is that it will be interesting and involve him pulling off insane stunts with his Vibranium arm.
As a member of almost every non-Mutant Marvel Comics team, Bucky did serve on the Thunderbolts for a time. It’s hard to say if the MCU would put him on such a team but he’s recently worked with Zemo. If the Baron came to him with a good enough plan and purpose, there’s a significant chance that he would sign up to work with him, again.
Hawkeye led a Thunderbolts team
One of the next MCU heroes to get a Disney+ series is Hawkeye. He will actually be the first founding member of the MCU Avengers to get his own series. While there aren’t a lot of details on it so far, what fans do know is that it will feature Kate Bishop, the other Hawkeye, as well as Yelena Belova and Maya Lopez/Echo. There’s also been a rumor floating around that Vincent D’Onofrio may finally return as Kingpin.
There was a time that Hawkeye actually led a team of Thunderbolts in the comics. As such, this upcoming series will put two members of the comics team on a collision course with each other. The Thunderbolts are unlikely to show up in any formal fashion in Hawkeye. That being said, the series could play a part in building up to their debut.
US Agent is in the house
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier introduced fans to a brand new Captain America. And it wasn’t Sam Wilson, at first. Before he took the mantle Steve Rogers made famous, John Walker was given the shield. Unfortunately for everyone, John did an absolutely terrible job. Not everyone is up to the challenge of being the Star-Spangled Avenger. Bucky certainly didn’t want the job.
Walker would eventually adopt his own name in the comics, US Agent. He also never served as a member of the Thunderbolts. But he would make an incredible member of the MCU version of the team alongside some of the other characters on this list. And there’s a very good reason why people think he may have already been recruited alongside Yelena Belova.
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine might already be building the Thunderbolts
The first three Phases of the MCU were defined and built by Nick Fury. While he’s still out there, the next phases may belong to Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. She made her debut at the end of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier by recruiting John Walker to her cause. And the end credits scene of Black Widow revealed that Yelena Belova was already working for her.
Val is a major player in the comics, a spy and tactician on the level of Fury. While no one knows what she’s up to as of yet, it wouldn’t be a shock to find out that she’s building the Thunderbolts. Both Walker and Belova would be key to that effort. If she could continue to recruit the likes of Ghost, Zemo, and even Bucky Barnes, she could end up being unstoppable.