As Phase 4 reaches its end soon with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s release, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will enter new territory in Phase 5. And while Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, The Marvels, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 will spearhead this period in the MCU, they all lead to Thunderbolts, the final film before Phase 6 starts. We take a look below at why fans should pay more attention to this team and what exactly they bring to the table.

3 things you need to know about Thunderbolts and its future in the MCU

3. They’re not heroes

Up to this point, the MCU is filled with larger-than-life characters who go above and beyond to preserve life by all means. Of course, the most prominent among these heroes are the Avengers. Given how they’ve saved the world time and time again, the group founded by Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Thor, Natasha Romanov, Clint Barton, and Bruce Banner is definitely the template for heroism in this universe.

While that may be the case, it won’t be by the time Thunderbolts roll out to end Phase 5. In the comics, this group started out as a bunch of villains who took on new identities to disguise themselves as heroes. Thanks to the Avengers and Fantastic Four missing at this point, these characters took advantage of their absence and become the most prominent superhero team for a while.

Of course, this wasn’t the end goal for a group led by Baron Helmut Zemo, who took on the identity of Citizen V, as he envisioned something more diabolical. Fortunately, the imminent return of the Avengers and Fantastic Four contributed to the eventual revelation to the public that these were not heroes, but established villains in the Marvel Universe.

This premise, as it stands, may not be the one fans see when the group makes its debut in Phase 5. Years after their debut, another iteration of the team came out, one that involved incarcerated villains working for the government. This is highly similar to DC’s Suicide Squad and it can be the version that comes out in theaters soon.

2. Potential members

As mentioned earlier, the MCU’s version of the will be more like a collection of villains and anti-heroes working for the government rather than disguised superheroes. In this regard, there will be a lot of options for Marvel moving forward.

Deadpool Marvel Free Guy MCU

20th Century Studios

Some of the more prominent names that have been circulating around are Yelena Bolova, Baron Zemo, Abomination, Titania, John Walker, and Ghost, among others. Other possible characters include Clint Barton, who once led the comic version of the team for a time, Taskmaster, Echo, White Vision, or even Deadpool. While the latter list has a weaker chance of happening, the first group will see most of its characters become part of the MCU’s Thunderbolts.

In all of these, the biggest clue to look out for is Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. As it stands, her character is playing a role similar to Nick Fury in Phase 1, one who gets to assemble a new team for the MCU. So far, de Fontaine has been seen with Yelena Bolova, the likeliest successor to Natasha Romanov’s Black Widow title, and John Walker, or US Agent. Marvel fans can expect her to round the Thunderbolts up in the various shows and films coming soon.

1. Impact on the MCU and Secret Wars

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The void left by Endgame on the MCU resulted in a world without a dedicated team of Avengers protecting it. Sure, we all have a new crop of heroes that are currently operating, like Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk, and there are existing ones soldiering on, like Hawkeye and Hulk. The thing is, incidents involving super-powered individuals are on the rise and the Marvel Universe isn’t exactly the same as when Tony Stark debuted as Iron Man more than a decade ago.

This is where the Thunderbolts come in. For the government to employ a group of volatile characters, villains no less, is some form of desperation to instill order in a world slowly being overrun by extraordinary dangers. Add the fact that the Fantastic Four and X-Men will debut soon and it’ll make those in power more determined to have their own group of super-powered individuals in the mix. Of course, this leads to the Multiverse Saga’s climactic event, Secret Wars.

It isn’t known yet what part will the Thunderbolts play or how the whole event will play out on the MCU. What’s certain, though, is that these villains and anti-heroes will play a huge part in it since this upcoming film will end Phase 5 and deliver the momentum Phase 6 needs. For sure, the inclusion of this group will raise the stakes of Secret Wars for the Marvel Universe.

In any case, fans won’t have to wait a long time, much like what happened with Infinity War and Endgame. In less than three years, we’ll also see this massive crossover event play out in theaters. When that happens, better keep an eye out for Thunderbolts because this team and their upcoming film are going to be huge.