Thunderbolts Cast Reveals If They Are Supervillains in the MCU

Marvel's Thunderbolts revealed its big ensemble cast of characters during D23 Expo 2022. The lineup includes Sebastian Stan (Bucky/Winter Soldier), Florence Pugh (Yelena Belova/Black Widow II), Wyatt Russell (John Walker/US Agent), Hannah John-Kamen (Ava/Ghost), David Harbour (Red Guardian), Olga Kurylenko (Taskmaster), and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (Valentina Allegra de Fontaine). That's a pretty eye-raising mix of shady covert agents, failed super-soldier experiments, and/or outright criminals. So is that the kind of team we're getting with this Thunderbolts movie? 

In the comics, The Thunderbolts team started as a group of supervillains trying to fool the public by masquerading as a new team of superheroes. The concept evolved over the years into more of a government-mandated team of covert agents and/or coerced hires, but a lot of fans have been hoping the original premise of villains pretending to be heroes would be woven into the MCU Thunderbolts. 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus would only echo Kevin Feige in calling the Thunderbolts a "rag-tag" team of people (i.e. a little of both). Sebastian Stan is much more of a Marvel movie pro at this point; not only did he not answer the question, but he also spun the question 'Are the Thunderbolts Heroes or Villains?' around into being the entire thematic hook of the film:

"Well again, maybe that's what the movie is going to answer, right?" Stan explained to Extra TV. "It's always interesting when you as an audience member have to maybe decide whether we are villains or heroes. But I think that's what compelling about the movie: it's very unconventional like that. So it starts out a little bit like 'Who's really the protagonist or antagonist,' I guess."

(Photo: Marvel Studios)

At that point, Dreyfus (who will play the Thunderbolts' wrangler and/or liaison Val) reminds Sebastian Stan not to say too much, lest Marvel Studios' snipers take him down. 

Taking what little bit we got there and running with it: the combination of characters in Thunderbolts is especially exciting exactly because we won't be sure who is playing on what side, or what other organizations or agendas could get served by the various members of the team. There's a definite espionage edge to this version of the Thunderbolts that's not necessarily the same as the comics – backstabbings, betrayals, and double-agent twists are almost mandatory. The real question may not be is the team good or bad, but what kind of team there will even be by the time the credits roll. 

Thunderbolts will be in theaters on July 26, 2024.