Dare to Dream

Thunderbolts roster: Why one Phase 5 show could be hugely important

The Defenders from Marvel’s former Netflixverse have all been associated with the Thunderbolts.

If you’re the type of MCU fan who yells at the top of your lungs whenever a cameo pops up in a Marvel flick, you’re in luck. Phase 5 film Thunderbolts, slated for July 26, 2024, will surely be a feast of crossovers and guest stars from across the MCU, Marvel comics, and possibly Marvel’s old Netflixverse.

Little is known about the movie, but we do know that while multiple iterations of the Thunderbolts have been formed in the comics, they all have one thing in common: They’re a squad of (somewhat) reformed villains and anti-heroes.

Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), is the MCU character expected to put together the Thunderbolts on-screen, and she’s already begun the recruitment process. John Walker and Yelena appear to be on board, while other established MCU characters who’ve been part of the Thunderbolts in the comics at some point include:

  • Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl)
  • Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)
  • Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko)
  • Swordsman (Tony Dalton)
  • Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)
  • Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen)
  • Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds)
  • Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)
  • America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez)
  • Abomination (Tim Roth)
There may be too many Thunderbolts throughout the comics to keep track of. Marvel Comics

Then there are the Thunderbolts who featured in Marvel’s Netflix slows, but who haven’t been fully integrated into the MCU... yet. With Disney+’s reboot of Daredevil in the works, Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige could wave his producer wand and clear up a lot of canonical messes. The characters associated with Daredevil who could be reasonably included in the first Thunderbolts installment are...

The Purple Man

The tormentor of Jessica Jones on her standalone TV series and frequent Daredevil comics foe, the Purple Man is eventually defeated by the Thunderbolts. Marvel Studios

Portrayed by: David Tennant

Seen in: Jessica Jones

Powers: Mind control, healing factor, charisma

Relationship to Daredevil: While the psychopathic Purple Man’s most frequent target and enemy is Jessica Jones, he does have several encounters with Daredevil, one of the few Marvel characters impervious to his manipulation and malice.

Thunderbolts affiliation: The Purple Man became the number one foe of the second iteration of the Thunderbolts after he and Swordsman plot to pollute New York’s water with mind control pheromones.

Bullseye

Before Wilson Bethel was Bullseye, Colin Farrell played the assassin in 2003’s Daredevil.Marvel Studios

Portrayed by: Wilson Bethel

As seen in: Daredevil

Powers: Master marksman, expert acrobat, gifted-level intellect

Relationship to Daredevil: Bullseye was hired to murder Daredevil but later went insane, hallucinating that everyone was Daredevil and going on a killing spree in one story, and donning the red costume and pretending to be Daredevil in others. He has a personal vendetta against Daredevil, and is obsessed with Daredevil’s love interests Elektra and Black Widow.

Thunderbolts affiliation: Bullseye was first in a colossal Thunderbolts Army, and was later a member of a third incarnation of the Thunderbolts headed by the Green Goblin.

Luke Cage

Luke Cage’s standalone Netflix show was celebrated for its ability to use Marvel stories as a vessel for commentary on real-life racial issues.Marvel Studios

Portrayed by: Mike Colter

As seen in: Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Defenders

Powers: Bulletproof, damage immunity, healing factor, hand-to-hand combat, superhuman strength

Relationship to Daredevil: Daredevil and Luke Cage have had a mostly positive relationship in the comics and on-screen, serving together on super teams and battling the same villains. Luke Cage also marries Jessica Jones and has a child with her, Danielle Cage, who eventually becomes a Young Avenger.

Thunderbolts affiliation: Luke Cage was both a member and the leader of the fifth Thunderbolts iteration, and was called upon by Captain America to form the group.

Elektra

Elektra has been portrayed by Élodie Young and Jennifer Garner. Marvel Studios

Portrayed by: Élodie Young

As seen in: Daredevil, The Defenders

Powers: Martial artist, telepathy, telekinesis, sword-fighting, healing factor

Relationship to Daredevil: Elektra has both loved and hated Daredevil, wavering between being an ally and a vexing opponent.

Thunderbolts affiliation: Elektra was in a sixth iteration of the Thunderbolts, along with another character commonly seen with Daredevil: The Punisher.

Punisher

Jon Bernthal’s nuanced portrayal of Frank Castle scored him a standalone Netflix series centered on the anti-hero. Marvel Studios

Portrayed by: Jon Bernthal

As seen in: Daredevil, Punisher

Powers: Peak human strength, hand-to-hand combat, superior marksmanship, pain immunity

Relationship to Daredevil: While Punisher has been a (reluctant) ally of Luke Cage and Captain America, he’s often seen clashing with Daredevil, who wants to bring Punisher to justice for his savage ways of handling criminals.

Kingpin

Both Vincent D’Onofrio (Kingpin) and Charlie Cox (Daredevil) will reprise their respective roles for Disney+’s Daredevil: Born Again reboot. Marvel Studios

Portrayed by: Vincent D’Onofrio

As seen in: Daredevil, Hawkeye, Daredevil: Born Again

Powers: Indomitable will, criminal mastermind, multilingual, absolute unit

Relationship to Daredevil: Wilson Fisk will forever and always be Daredevil’s main adversary and mutual obsession. Kingpin has allied himself with villains, anti-heroes, and even heroes, networking solely for the sake of dominion over New York’s underground.

Thunderbolts affiliation?: Mayor Wilson Fisk assembles the ninth and tenth iterations of the Thunderbolts after superhero activities are forbidden. His operatives are used to apprehend superheroes who break the law, as well as suppress alien symbiotes unleashed by Knull.

Characters from Daredevil’s comics

There are also a a few notable characters that, while prominent in Daredevil’s comics, haven’t been adapted for the MCU. That can always change, however, and these villains and anti-heroes seem like the most probable candidates:

We have a long road ahead until Daredevil: Born Again, and an even longer stretch of time until Thunderbolts premieres in theaters. Stay patient, and pass the time by fantasizing about the myriad of exciting cameos coming up in Phases 4 and 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Daredevil: Born Again lands on Disney+ in Spring 2024. Thunderbolts opens in theaters on July 26, 2024.