Who will make up the new super team after the final episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier? The bones of the structure, the unrest, and a few of the usual suspects are around to make up Thunderbolts‘ team of antiheroes. We don’t even need the dust from the final episode to settle to note some clear candidates that could likely be banded together.
It is clear Marvel is hinting at and prepping for future movies, shows, and teams coming to the MCU. We’ve already seen most of the Young Avengers in some form or another, but they likely will take more time to make sense as a new Avengers team. The Thunderbolts, on the other hand, rather than an introduction, just need a purpose and can pop up at any moment.
Who Are the Thunderbolts?
The Thunderbolts first appeared in 1996 in Incredible Hulk #449. They are usually a mixture of super-criminals pretending to be heroes, mercenaries, or actual reformed criminals. They often take on the dirty work that other superheroes won’t and do things that shouldn’t make the headlines. There have been many members, multiple leaders, and varying agendas over time. The team has always straddled the line between good and evil.
Now that we’ve seen how not on the same page everyone is about Captain America, the shield, super soldiers, and justice, there is room for a new team to step in. There are many powerful and eligible candidates in the gray area between hero and villain simply waiting for backup or direction. Here are 7 possible Thunderbolts candidates to watch for in the future.
In the comics, Baron Zemo has frequently been a leader of the Thunderbolts, and I believe he has the positioning and drive to do so in the MCU. He is currently on his way to prison. Still, he has proven to be both valuable and manipulative enough to find his way out. Though he is undoubtedly a killer, he also seems to have some ideals that he wishes to uphold and accomplish. In Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we’ve learned Zemo not only has brains but also can hold his own in a fight. Will he lead the Thunderbolts on a supersoldier hunting party, work for the government in exchange for freedom or just try to bring some order to the underworld?
We’ve seen Batroc face off against both Captain America and Falcon and live to tell the tale. He is a powerful ally and a formidable enemy. He has been deemed efficient enough to be recruited by Nick Fury and Sharon Carter for various risky missions that fall into gray areas. It seems that Batroc likes to stay busy and will work for the highest bidder against any odds. While Batroc has led teams of his own, he has also been a member of Zemo’s Thunderbolts in the comics. Perhaps a paycheck could lend Batroc’s determination and muscle to an enforcer role on a controversial new team.
Ava Starr or “Ghost” has been a recurring enemy of Iron Man in the comics and a member of the Thunderbolts. She faced off against Ant-Man and the Wasp and held her own in the MCU. Starr is currently in hiding with Bill Foster after stabilizing her phasing powers. She has been an operative and worked for both good and ill almost her whole life. She was seen as valuable enough to be used in the past for missions by SHIELD before going rogue. Could she find a real place in the world by joining up with a government-sponsored Thunderbolts team trying to do good?
Sharon has tried to fight for what’s right and supported the Avengers repeatedly in the MCU. It has only ever led her to trouble as she’s currently an enemy of the state for helping Captain America and Falcon. Carter now lives in Madripoor, working as a player in the underworld. She has proven that she is resourceful and a survivor no matter what the odds. We know she’s had Batroc released from prison and has hired him for missions at least twice. She can hold her own and doesn’t hesitate to take the shot when the time comes. Perhaps she could lead a team in cleaning up the underworld she has a stake in or seek redemption as a government-backed Thunderbolts leader.
Bucky has fought alongside the Avengers as a hero, but he has also worked as a killing machine for HYDRA and the Soviet Union. He is currently on probation of sorts that he doesn’t much seem to enjoy. Although Bucky appears to want to do good, the world doesn’t make it easy for him. Many still fear the Winter Soldier, and there are plenty who haven’t forgiven him for the wrongs he’s committed. Although he doesn’t get along with Zemo, Bucky worked well alongside him and didn’t kill him when he had the chance. Bucky knows there’s a place between right and wrong, and he seems to accomplish a lot in that space. A member of the Thunderbolts in the comics, perhaps he could join them in the MCU under Sharon Carter’s leadership and find purpose again.
Speculation “Spoilers” Ahead
“Black Widow” is a code name given to some operatives who have gone through the Red Room Academy brainwashing and training. Natasha Romanov has demonstrated the more than capable abilities of these operatives. Yelena Belova is also a Black Widow graduate and will be joining the MCU shortly via Black Widow. In the comics, Black Widow has worked for SHIELD and HYDRA as a spy and assassin and a Thunderbolts member for a short time. Belova seems to be at odds with Romanov in the trailers, for the Black Widow and Red Room operatives don’t seem to have clean slates. Could Belova find her place in the MCU as an assassin for a new covert team of Thunderbolts or join a team looking for absolution?
Taskmaster has been a trainer of operatives for the SHIELD, Avengers Initiative, HYDRA, and A.I.M. in Marvel Comics. His ability to mimic fighting techniques using photographic reflexes lends itself to this role. He can analyze the fighting styles and abilities of enemies, such as The Avengers, and teach them to others. This makes him the perfect man for various jobs, and he often sells his unique skills as a mercenary for hire, including as a member of the Thunderbolts. Although we don’t know much about his role or fate after Black Widow, he seems like a survivor who could end up rounding out a dangerous Thunderbolts team.
We know that Wanda has a lot going on and not a lot of friends. She wants to get her children back and probably wouldn’t mind earning back her status as one of the good guys again. Wanda’s currently on the run with no affiliation, and we’ve seen that she will do whatever it takes to get the result she’s looking for. Although she can work on a team like the Avengers, it seems they may be too high profile or judgemental for her to fit in. The Scarlet Witch could be the big gun that a Thunderbolts team needs to prove they’re no pushovers. Perhaps Wanda could find a companion with a similar track record or earn some vindication as a member of a not so squeaky-clean super team.
While there is a good possibility that most of the above characters could be together in a version of the Thunderbolts, there are a couple interesting but unlikely options.
John Walker has been a member of the Thunderbolts as U.S. Agent in the comics. He is currently right at the forefront of the MCU and definitely having trouble choosing between right and wrong. His grief, shame, and disillusionment could lead him to become another member of the Thunderbolts looking for justice or redemption. It is unlikely, though, that he would be on a team with Zemo or Bucky.
Photon has been the name of multiple heroes in the Marvel comic universe. At one time, while Monica Rambeau was going by the name Photon, another hero, Genis-Vell, joined the Thunderbolts and took the name as well. Rambeau recently received her powers in the MCU during WandaVision. At the end of those events, it seems she is being called up for a mission by Nick Fury in space. This may suggest Rambeau will not be joining the Thunderbolts. The team could become Fury’s new project, though, or another character such as a Skrull could become Photon and join while Rambeau is away.
While none of this is concrete yet, the foundations have been laid. The MCU needs another super team that’s actually a unit that doesn’t have to worry about rules and politics. A covert team that doesn’t hold back could get a lot accomplished and would be fun to watch. We’ve seen the ragtag team formula work in the MCU with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Thunderbolts would all be established characters lost in the shuffle, banding together righting their wrongs or just finding a proper place in the current world. Who do you think should make up the final Thunderbolts roster?