Ghost Protocol

Marvel interview reveals the Thunderbolts movie's secret weapon

Ghost's inability to connect with others makes her an easy metaphor for a team of anti-heroes trying to feel like a family.

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The last time Marvel fans saw Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost, she was getting help for her quantum-induced condition from Team Ant-Man. Then, the Blip happened. Now Ghost is still having problems connecting with people — literally.

When discussing the upcoming Thunderbolts, slated to hit theaters on July 23, 2024, John-Kamen said Ghost will have to learn to work with others after a life spent in isolation. That’s a bit of retconning from the origins established in her debut, Ant-Man and the Wasp, but John-Kamen’s words still hold up as a teaser for the Thunderbolts’ team dynamics.

At D23, asked Hannah John-Kamen what fans can expect from her in Thunderbolts, where John-Kamen will co-star with Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Sebastian Stan, Olga Kurylenko, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Wyatt Russell.

John-Kamen explained that Ghost, whose real name is Ava, doesn’t like human contact, which is ironic given her unstable ability to phase through objects and disappear.

“Well, she doesn't like to be touched,” John-Kamen said. “She's not social. She grew up in the van. So she's never actually had human contact with anyone. So this is gonna be interesting for Ghost to connect.”

Hannah John-Kamen first appeared as Ghost in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. She will return in the 2024 movie Thunderbolts, and John-Kamen says her character still has trouble trusting people.


That isn’t totally true, as Ava did have some human contact. After her tragic origin story, Ava was taken in by S.H.I.E.L.D. and trained as a stealth operative. She worked espionage and assassination jobs in exchange for the hope the organization would find a cure for her condition.

Of course, S.H.I.E.L.D. was eventually infiltrated by HYDRA, and there was no way it would rid itself of a valuable asset. After S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, Ava was taken in by former agent turned professor Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), and she lived in hiding until the events of Ant-Man and the Wasp.

But John-Kamen’s words still hint at what’s to come for Ghost and everyone else in Thunderbolts, and it may make her the secret star of the movie. Whether it’s for comic effect (imagine David Harbour’s Red Guardian trying to hug the stand-offish Ghost) or a more serious moment, John-Kamen alludes to Ghost being the secret heart of the movie.

The Thunderbolts are a team of villains and anti-heroes who work to save the world as part of their effort to reform. Unlike DC’s Suicide Squad, who are working for their freedom, the Thunderbolts aren’t promised anything in return. While the original version of the team was a ruse, later iterations of the Thunderbolts were made up of ex-villains trying to do some good for once.

It will also be interesting to see how Thunderbolts resolves the post-credits scene of Ant-Man and the Wasp. Remember, Team Ant-Man was trying to obtain quantum particles to help Ava. What happened to their efforts in the aftermath of the Blip?

Official concept art for Marvel’s Thunderbolts, illustrated by Andy Park.

As expected, the MCU is taking the spirit of the Thunderbolts and tweaking it for its own purposes. These Thunderbolts aren’t bad bad guys — to some degree, they’re all good people who have done bad things — but they’re not deserving of reverence, either. That makes them abrasive and hard to work with. That’s what Bucky’s whole deal was in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and it’s probably true for him again in Thunderbolts.

Yelena might be the de facto leader even though she’s younger than everyone else, Red Guardian will be both the brute and teddy bear while he gets on everyone’s nerves, U.S. Agent’s overconfidence and zealousness will likely make him both an asset and a liability, and Taskmaster is set to be the silent assassin no one trusts.

That leaves Ghost, whose literal inability to connect with people will serve as a metaphor for the team’s efforts to get along. As Ghost opens up, so may the rest of the Thunderbolts.

Like the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy before them, the Thunderbolts will probably become a reluctant found family who, despite their better judgment, will have to trust each other. Ghost has lived most of her life unable to do just that. Thunderbolts will be her opportunity to finally learn how, or suffer the consequences.

Thunderbolts will open in theaters on July 26, 2024.

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