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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Jester (Thunderbolts Army)
- Mister Hyde (Thunderbolts V)
- Man-Bull (Thunderbolts IX)
- Mister Fear (Thunderbolts IX)
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.