New Thunderbolts 4 NM 2005 vs Wolverine Fabian Nicieza Tom Grummett 1st print


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NEW THUNDERBOLTS #4 – (Nicieza/Grummett) Enemy of the State crossover with Wolverine. Wolverine scours New York City in search of Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker.

Marvel’s Thunderbolts Movie Adds Jake Schreier as Director

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s long-gestating Thunderbolts project is finally on its way to becoming a reality. On Thursday, reports indicated that Jake Schreier has been tapped to direct an upcoming Thunderbolts movie, with Black Widow’s Eric Pearson set to write the script and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige set to produce. Reports are indicating that the film could begin production next summer, and that Marvel Studios has been “in touch with certain individuals” who are already a part of the franchise to make sure their schedules are clear for the shoot.

Schreier is best known for directing the 2012 indie darling Robot & Frank, as well as the 2015 adaptation of John Green’s novel Paper Towns. He has also helmed episodes of Beef and Dave, as well as music videos for Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. It had previously been rumored that a Thunderbolts movie could be in the works to begin production sometime in 2023.

It is unclear at this point who could make up the cast of Thunderbolts, a team that traditionally consists of supervillains and antiheroes going on missions, initially to convince the general public that they are operating as heroes. The first comic incarnation of the team was led by Baron Zemo, with other members including Songbird, Moonstone, Taskmaster, U.S. Agent, Crossbones, Abomination, Ghost, and more. The team gets its namesake from General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), but following Hurt’s passing earlier this year, it’s anyone’s guess as to how that aspect of the storyline could be handled.

The idea of the Thunderbolts being formed in the MCU has been popping up for several years now, particularly as more antiheroic characters have begun to be established. The inklings of that storyline might have already been put in place with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow, both of which featured scenes of Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julie Louis-Dreyfuss) recruiting people for a shady team she was forming. So far, Val got John Walker / U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell) and Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) to work for her, with the latter’s adventures playing out in the recent Hawkeye Disney+ series.

“That would be fun!” Ghost actress Hannah John-Kamen explained in a 2018 interview. “That would be fun. I think, you know, as well, in the original comics Ghost was with Iron Man, it was actually originally Iron Man (villain), you know, and I actually went when I was in Atlanta, went and actually bought the Thunderbolts comic books. With any Marvel character whatever happens to them, you always go the possibility is endless. And with me, it would be an honor to work with any of the heroes, and any of the antagonist, and any of the things in the Marvel Universe. I mean, yeah, that would be amazing!?”.

Marvel’s MCU Dark Avengers Movie Cast (As We Know It)
If the Contessa is secretly building a Dark Avengers team for the MCU’s Avengers 5’s arc she has lots of Marvel candidates already in the franchise.

A Dark Avengers movie would be the perfect answer to the Avengers 5 mystery. Even with Civil War over, the MCU has a superhero identity issue. Spider-Man was implicated as a supervillain at the end of Far From Home, John Walker’s Captain America was stripped of his status and name for a very public murder and the Scarlet Witch caused a publicity nightmare by victimizing an entire town in New Jersey.

In the comics, the Dark Avengers were an imposter group of sorts, brought together by a reformed Norman Osborn in the wake of the Secret Invasion storyline and the aftermath of the government’s disbanding of the Avengers. Among other missions, he leads an attack on Asgard (now located on Earth), and the team is ultimately undone when Osborn defers to his villainous instincts and ends up on the Raft. While some details wouldn’t be possible in the MCU, there are a lot of story elements coming into play in Phase 4 that could well be the perfect backdrop for an adaptation for Avengers 5. The Avengers are effectively disbanded, the government is trying to introduce new replacement heroes and Asgard is now on Earth, potentially threatening fearful natives Osborn could whip into outright hatred.

Add to that the setup for the Secret Invasion event later in Phase 4 and the issues of hidden identities therein, there’s a major opportunity for Marvel to bring one of the most controversial Marvel events of all time to the MCU. But who could the roster be? Looking back at the projects already released and those yet to come, there’s already an intriguing team that could bring together a group of powerful imposter Avengers to challenge the real superhero team.

Madame Hydra As The Nick Fury Stand-In
Madame Hydra Julia Louis-Dreyfus falcon and the winter soldier
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a surprise inclusion in The Falcon & The Winter Soldier as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, AKA Val AKA Marvel’s second Madame Hydra, but she could play a key role in the MCU. Already, she’s been seen handing an ominous-looking business card to John Walker in the wake of his demotion from the Captain America role. Considering she was initially intended to debut in Black Widow and there’s some suggestion of her appearing in other MCU projects, the manner of that appearance does seem to point to a dark mirror to Nick Fury’s role in Phase 1. The idea of her working either for an organization or a mysterious benefactor to bring together a team of “alternative heroes” would be perfect in the wake of the first phase of the Avengers seemingly coming to an end. Particularly if that benefactor were revealed to be Norman Osborn as an over-arching MCU villain.

John Walker/US Agent As “Captain America”
If the MCU is headed towards a Dark Avengers event, it could already have seen its first recruit thanks to Val’s encounter with John Walker in the penultimate episode of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier. While there are other possibilities for her employer – like Leviathan or even a rejuvenated Hydra – it was clear that she was seeking to recruit Walker for something. And there’s something about a blank black business card that fits with the idea of a Dark Avengers set up. Walker, or US Agent as he was known at the time, was a late addition to the Dark Avengers line-up when the team found themselves transported to an alternate reality, but in the MCU, he could be a leader for a rejigged version. Even if he’s now stripped of his superhero title, Walker has objectives to remain in the game, and following the Contessa (and her possible wealth or backer) to a new initiative would be a great way to keep him in the MCU.

Yelena Belova As “Black Widow”
Black Widow back to the beginnig Yelena
The second iteration of the Dark Avengers was undone in the comics, somewhat ironically, by double agentry when Hulk’s son Skaar revealed he had been reporting to Steve Rogers all along. That suggests there’s some space in an MCU version of the team to have more complex characters like Yelena Belova involved, particularly if she’s looking for a home after the events of Black Widow. Though she’s presented as Natasha Romanov’s “sister” in that movie, Belova’s comic book origin saw her introduced as Nat’s enemy, sent to kill her and there’s no firm confirmation that she will be aligned with the morality of the Avengers simply because of her shared history with Natasha. Intriguingly, Belova was one of Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts recruits in the team that pre-dated the Dark Avengers, though it turned out to be Natasha in disguise, manipulated into believing she was a double agent. That sort of dynamic in an MCU Dark Avengers team would be a great way to change things up.

Emil Blonsky/Abomination As “Hulk”
Tim Roth The Incredible Hulk The Abomination
In the comics, the role of the Dark Avengers’ Hulk is taken by Skaar – at least in Osborn’s New Dark Avengers – the son of Hulk and Caiera, who was introduced to Marvel Comics during Planet Hulk. While Hulk’s Sakaar past could introduce his son as a future surprise, it would make far more sense for a Dark Avengers movie to deliver on a plan for the Abomination in Phase 1 that was ultimately scrapped. Tim Roth’s maniacal Emil Blonsky had been the initially intended monster tank on the original Avengers team and his return to the MCU has already been heavily rumored for She-Hulk (after several similar false starts), so the pathway is already set for his recruitment. Intriguingly, Blonsky had something of an inferiority complex when faced with Banner’s Hulk and his jealousy drove his dangerous desire to “improve” himself. That would provide a strong narrative solution

Agatha Harkness As “Scarlet Witch”
This might be a less likely one, but Agatha Harkness is still around in the MCU, and though Wanda bewitched her to remain under her own Agnes delusion, the new Scarlet Witch also left Westview and who’s to say what Agatha’s current status is. What is established fact is that Katharyn Hahn’s performance was one of the breakout successes of WandaVision and there would be no argument against her returning from the fandom. More importantly, the Dark Avengers team has its own imposter version of Scarlet Witch – played by the disguised June Covington – and Agatha now has a strong narrative reason in the MCU for perhaps wanting to get some sort of revenge on Wanda. She also comes with ready-made magical powers to actually live up to the billing too, rather than having to get a non-magical character to pull off the deception.

Mac Gargan/Scorpion As “Spider-Man”
Scorpion is one of the MCU Spider-Man franchise’s biggest loose ends after Far From Home and while there may be some suspicion that the film will deal with him the same way other MCU projects have tied up loose ends (in the first ten minutes with little thought), giving him a true vengeance arc is far better. Gargan expresses his desire to take down Spider-Man in his Homecoming post-credits scene, but there’s already a lot going on with No Way Home’s plot and shoe-horning him alongside the new characters may be too much of a disservice to him. The MCU version of Gargan is dramatically different from the Dark Avengers one as he commits his deception using the symbiote powers to make it appear that he’s actually Spider-Man, but the idea of a villain stealing Spider-Man’s identity after the appearance of multiple Spider-Men in Phase 4 thanks to the multiverse is a very good set-up for Gargan to repurpose.

Iron Patriot
Norman Osborn and Iron Patriot
Who would play Iron Patriot at this stage is anyone’s guess, but with Armor Wars coming to the MCU, there’s already a set-up for an alternative Iron Man to come to the franchise. That could, of course, be the returning Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), but there’s also the opportunity to introduce Norman Osborn as one of the next MCU big bads and having him follow his comics counterpart into the fake Iron Man role would be a great decision. Like Doctor Doom, Osborn represents too big an opportunity for the MCU to bring him in for only a single movie arc now they have access to him and setting up the Dark Avengers, taking down the real Avengers and fighting against Asgard’s “invasion” of Earth is already established as a compelling roadmap. Osborn should never be just a Spider-Man concern and while Iron Patriot’s boots will be big to fill, that sort of reveal would be the right sort of fan-bait.

White Vision
Though he’s not an original Dark Avengers team member in the comics, the question of White Vision’s MCU future is a compelling one and his identity problems could be best served in this sort of narrative. White Vision doesn’t know what or who he is, but will have some affiliation with the Avengers because of his restored memories, which could be used as a tragic opportunity to lead to something of a misguided future. Should he return to the MCU, White Vision’s future is already set up as something of a clone of Adam Warlock’s comics origin, but shifting him into the Dark Avengers team for Avengers 5 instead would solve the problem of what to do with him as well as adding dramatic stakes for Val or Osborn’s new team.

Near mint, 1st printing. Check description for more pictures.