The Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for planning ahead. The franchise can plant the seeds of a huge villain years before they appear, or introduce a new hero years before they get their own feature. The best example is General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, who appeared in the second MCU movie back in 2008 and is slated to lead a supervillain team that only started assembling in 2020.
William Hurt first portrayed the general, appearing in the MCU as recently as 2021’s Black Widow. But after Hurt died earlier this year, the role had to be given to a new actor. On Thursday, Slashfilm announced the shock high-profile recast: Han Solo and Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford. Here’s what’s in the General’s future, including a possible Hulk transformation.
General Ross has been a minor player in the MCU so far, becoming the face of the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War and hunting down Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow. Despite his constant tendency to get in the Avengers’ way, he had enough sympathy for Tony Stark to make an appearance at his funeral. But it seems like there’s a more villainous path for Ross ahead.
Ever since The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we’ve seen a group of supervillains and antiheroes be recruited by Contessa Valentina, including John Walker and Yelena Belova. Fans theorized they would become a super-squad akin to the comics team known as the Thunderbolts, and sure enough, at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Kevin Feige announced a film called Thunderbolts was in development, and several Marvel stars would reprise their roles.
The Thunderbolts, roughly Marvel’s equivalent to the Suicide Squad, got their name from General “Thunderbolt” Ross. How he would factor into the series was a mystery... until the Harrison Ford casting. The sci-fi legend is slated to appear in both Thunderbolts and the upcoming Captain America: New World Order, which may show us the final steps of the team’s assembly.
There’s much more to Ross’ comic book character than just his military mind. In 2008, Red Hulk was introduced as a more violent yet smarter version of the Incredible Hulk. No one knew who his human alter ego was until 2010, when it was revealed that Red Hulk was actually General Ross.
Could Harrison Ford play the Hulked-out version of General Ross in Thunderbolts, or a later film in the MCU? The actor is 80 years old, but if he’s up for taking on the role of Indiana Jones for the fifth time then Red Hulk isn’t too much of a stretch.
Thunderbolts premieres July 26, 2024.