How Captain America: New World Order Can Lead Into Marvel's Thunderbolts Movie

When the next Captain Americamovie arrives on the big screen, Anthony Mackie's Sam Wilson will be wearing the red-white-and-blue. One of the many announcements to come out of the Marvel Studios Hall H Panel at San Diego Comic-Con was Captain America: New World Order, set to release on May 3, 2024. Another surprise announcement was the long-rumored Thunderbolts, which is closing out Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on July 26, 2024, two months after Captain America 4. While Marvel loves to remind fans how each of its projects exists in a connected universe, there are a couple of key ways that Captain America: New World Order can lead directly into Thunderbolts.

When Steve Rogers passed his shield to Sam Wilson in the final moments of Avengers: Endgame, the overwhelming assumption was that Falcon had graduated to Captain America status. However, that was proven to be incorrect when The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premiered on Disney+. The six-episode season followed Sam and Bucky Barnes as they wrestled with the shield's legacy. Also of note was the introduction of John Walker, aka US Agent, who was handpicked to by the government to be Steve Rogers' replacement. 

As those who watched Falcon and Winter Soldier know, that didn't go as planned. US Agent was stripped of his rankings after publicly killing a member of the Flagsmashers. However, John Walker ended up being recruited by Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, for reasons that remain unknown... at least for now. It wouldn't be a surprise to see US Agent, along with the Winter Soldier and Sharon Carter, return for Captain America: New World Order. Sharon's role as the Power Broker should continue in the new film, though she most likely won't be the main antagonist. Whether it's one sole individual or a group, Captain America and US Agent will find themselves on the same side of this fight, and the results should be the final setup for the MCU Thunderbolts.

(Photo: Marvel Studios)

We've already seen Valentina contract Yelena Belova in the post-credits scene of Black Widow, so she is another potential character Captain America: New World Order could utilize. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige revealed that Thunderbolts would star new characters that fans haven't had the privilege of meeting yet, but he didn't specify if they would make their debut in Thunderbolts. What if they showed up alongside US Agent and Yelena in Captain America: New World Order?

This is all set up for Thunderbolts, where Marvel could decide to go the original route with the team being made up of villains masquerading as heroes, or another of their comic iterations where they are a government-sanctioned team comprised of heroes and semi-reformed villains. There are also rumors that Winter Soldier could be a member of the Thunderbolts, so there is another natural connection between the two films as well.

Fans may have initially complained about there not being a connective story or vision for Phase 4 and beyond, but as we're learning there is a larger plan in play. That includes the Captain America corner of the MCU, where the Thunderbolts can slot themselves in and then branch out to cement themselves in the eyes of the general public. The fun will be in discovering who makes the team, and where we will see each of these characters next.

Captain America: New World Order debuts May 3, 2024, followed by Thunderbolts on July 26, 2024.