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Marvel’s Team of Rough Anti-Heroes are Coming to the MCU – Thunderbolts Explained

4 Minute Read
Aug 4 2022
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Thunderbolts came about because of a Charles Xavier screw-up and Baron Zemo’s need to take over the world. This is how it happened.

Compared to most of the other characters introduced in the MCU, the Thunderbolts are relatively new. The initial team is only 26 years old. Like the Suicide Squad, it’s made up of not-so-reformed baddies that decide to fight for the side of good (sometimes). The team’s creation was hinted at in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and will soon be brought into the MCU for their own series.

So who are these super villains and what do they have to do with this dude that can’t dance? Read on to find out.

Thunderbolts: The Antihero Team

First appearance: Incredible Hulk #449 (November 1996)
Creators: Kurt Busiek, Mark Bagley

“Justice, like lightning, ever should appear to few men’s ruin, but to all men’s fear.” – Thunderbolts #1

After Earth’s biggest superheroes were declared dead thanks to Onslaught (surprise – they weren’t really dead), Baron Zemo decided to replace them with a group of criminal villains he could lead called the Masters of Evil. He convinced them to rebrand as the Thunderbolts and put them in a place of trust and power. All by doing villain stuff like deceiving the authorities and the public. 

Zemo being Zemo, he couldn’t hold the secret intentions of the team. They enjoyed the respect they were getting, so the Thunderbolts defected and reformed into a virtuous group. Over the years since they left Zemo behind, the Thunderbolts have been led by Hawkeye, Luke Cage, and the Winter Soldier. They’ve also fallen victim to bad leadership and turned into a corrupted, brutal patrolling force for Norman Osborn and Wilson Fisk (not at the same time).

The Thunderbolts have participated in several large story arcs since they arrived on the scene including Secret Invasion (which is also on the MCU list).

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via Marvel

Thunderbolts: Original Team Members

Beetle aka MACH-1 – Abner Jenkins was a mechanic for an aircraft producer that got tired of the daily grind. He built a suit of armor, called himself Beetle, and became a merc for hire. He was pretty lousy at it until the Masters of Evil recruited him.

Fixer aka Techno – Paul Norbert Ebersol was a child prodigy and grew up to be a super talented engineer with an arrogance problem. He opted for the criminal life because it would afford him the respect he thought he deserved. He worked with HYDRA before joining Masters of Evil.

Goliath aka Atlas – Erik Josten was an American soldier turned mercenary. He was mutated and infused with ionic energy by Baron Zemo’s Ionic Ray.  He’s been loyal to Zemo since.

Moonstone aka Meteorite – Karla Sofen was a psychiatrist. She enjoyed manipulating her patients into paranoia rather than helping them and wound up under the tutelage of Doctor Faustus.

Screaming Mimi aka Songbird – Melissa Gold was a runaway that eventually found her way off the streets by becoming a professional wrestler (it was the late 70s). Her criminal career began when she starts doing ops for Roxxon Oil Company, which garnered attention from Zemo.

Thunderbolts #1 art by Mark Bagley, via Marvel

In the MCU

Theories about the team being added to the MCU started when Zemo was imprisoned on The Raft at the end of The Falcon and The Winter Solider. Some think that Valentina has something to do with it bringing a team together that includes U.S. Agent and White Widow. Now that we have New World Order in play, I don’t think that’s where Thunderbolts is going. I think we’ll get a prison break. Daniel Brühl’s take on Zemo was a stand-out and fan favorite – I can’t see them dropping that unless the actor doesn’t want to return.

As far as who may be in this version, I have some ideas. These characters have already appeared in the MCU and have appeared in the team lineup in the comics. The only good part of the alignment chart they land on is chaotic because they have their own moral code. And even then it’s a maybe.

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  • Baron Zemo
  • Taskmaster (last seen in Black Widow)
  • Ghost (last seen in Ant-Man & The Wasp)
  • Abomination (is in She-Hulk)
  • Deadpool (just for fun)

And there’s always the possibility of new characters being brought in. Who knows – we could get Screaming Mimi on screen. It’s all theories until we start getting casting announcements. Jake Schreier has been tapped to direct and the movie has a summer 2024 release date.

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