The MCU’s Thunderbolts movie will feature plenty of Marvel villains, but who will the Thunderbolts’ villain be? Here are some fun candidates.
Marvel villains and anti-heroes will team up in a Thunderbolts movie, but even these baddies will need a villain to fight – and there are plenty of exciting candidates. Rumors of Marvel Studios eyeing the Thunderbolts for an adaptation have finally come to fruition with Jake Schreier directing the film. Details on how the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 slate will incorporate the team have yet to be revealed, although the seeds for Thunderbolts have been planted for years.
The team known as the Thunderbolts has had many forms over the years in the comics, ranging from actual villains disguising themselves as heroes to a government-sponsored team of reformed criminals. Phase 4’s Thunderbolts setup has left the MCU with plenty of options to collect older and recent villains together. An official lineup has yet to be announced, but characters like Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl), US Agent (Wyatt Russell), Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), The Abomination (Tim Roth), Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), and Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko) are strong possibilities.
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Related: Marvel’s MCU Thunderbolts Movie Cast (As We Know It)
Regardless of which MCU baddies and anti-heroes team up in the film, Marvel still needs to find the Thunderbolts movie villain. After seeing Loki, Ultron, and Thanos play the main antagonist roles in the Avengers movies, Marvel Studios has set a high bar for the villains of its team-up movies. But since many of Marvel’s bigger remaining villains could be the “heroes” of Thunderbolts, that means a major opponent will need to stand opposite them. This could mean turning some Marvel heroes into “villains” or including some even bigger baddies. Here are the best candidates to be the Thunderbolts villain.
The Thunderbolts movie could take a very grounded approach and see the team hunt down other anti-heroes, such as Punisher. Jon Bernthal’s version of Frank Castle hasn’t appeared in a proper MCU project (yet), but there is plenty of interest from audiences, Bernthal, and others to see more of Punisher. He’s even often considered a candidate to be on the Thunderbolts team. However, it is more interesting if Frank becomes the villain instead. There are plenty of reasons the Thunderbolts could go after Punisher in the MCU. If the team is funded by the government, they might not like the idea of a hyper-violent “hero” like Punisher roaming free and taking justice into his own hands. It might then take a collection of skilled criminals who are not afraid to get their hands dirty to take him down. If Thunderbolts’ story goes in a different direction, Punisher could also be revealed to be a former leader of the team who defects. With so many possibilities, seeing Punisher portrayed as the villain and fighting the entire Thunderbolts team would be quite fun.
The MCU might also have the perfect place to introduce Sentry now that Thunderbolts is in development. Robert Reynolds is one of the most powerful Marvel characters to ever exist and could play the villain in a few different ways. Perhaps the Thunderbolts movie will see Contessa Valentina order the villains to try and contain an incident at a lab where they were trying to replicate the super-soldier serum, only for Reynolds to stumble across it. The comics saw Sentry kill many people after getting his powers and not knowing how to control them. Sentry could be viewed as a villain as the Thunderbolts are tasked with containing the destruction he causes. It would require a very powerful Thunderbolts team to try and defeat Sentry, though, and the movie would need to balance his characterization so he can still be a hero moving forward.
One of the benefits of using Sentry as the Thunderbolts movie villain could be his alternate persona, Void (not to be confused with Loki’s The Void). The dark manifestation of Sentry is capable of destroying the entire world and showing its enemies their darkest fears. Marvel Studios could take this route and make Void the villain of the movie, only for the Thunderbolts to learn that Robert Reynolds is the key to defeating his darker self. It would certainly increase the power of the Thunderbolts’ villain, which would really test the ability of Marvel anti-heroes who have so far proven to be a bit more grounded in nature.
Related: Is Thunderbolts Replacing Avengers 5 As The MCU’s Next Crossover Movie?
Marvel Studios could also make Wolverine the Thunderbolts movie villain to usher in the beloved mutant hero. Similar to the previously proposed idea for Sentry, Wolverine could be the Thunderbolts’ secret target for a mission. This time, it would be a possible breach at the Weapon X lab that creates Wolverine that would see the government assemble the MCU villains to try and keep Wolverine from getting loose. There is also the chance for Marvel to flip the script a bit and have the Thunderbolts seek out the legendary Weapon X in hopes of improving their ranks, only to be met by the berserker rage of James Howlett. Introducing Wolverine as Thunderbolts’ villain would be an unexpected way for the character to join the MCU, but it would also give him a chance to fight some major villains right away. Meanwhile, the Thunderbolts could even win by “killing” Wolverine, even though viewers would know the nearly unkillable mutant will return.
Now, if Marvel Studios wants the Thunderbolts to face off against a real Marvel villain, MODOK could be a great place to look. Even though rumors suggest Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania might include MODOK, it would be quite exciting to see him reappear as the main villain in Thunderbolts. The MCU could have the Thunderbolts go after the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing after he expands his function beyond computing. This would work regardless of if the MCU’s Thunderbolts team works for the government or if they are villains operating on their own, as MODOK is a big enough threat to take out either way. There has long been an argument that MODOK and his giant floating head look are too wild to pull off in the MCU, but Thunderbolts might have the type of more ridiculous story to make it work.
Audiences could even potentially see Ultron return to the MCU and be the Thunderbolts movie villain. Even though Avengers: Age of Ultron indicated that Ultron was killed, Spider-Man: Homecoming included a hint that Tony Stark’s evil AI could still be around. Thunderbolts could be where Ultron returns in some form. One potential story could see the Thunderbolts assembled to take down someone (like Justin Hammer perhaps) who is trying to recreate Ultron. This could mean the Marvel villains will get to face off with a version of a devastating Avengers foe. It is for that reason that this route might make sense for Marvel Studios, as it would give the MCU a chance to immediately show how powerful the Thunderbolts are compared to the Avengers.
There is even a chance for the Thunderbolts villain to ultimately make Dr. Doom’s MCU debut possible. The iconic Marvel villain has been rumored to secretly play a role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It is possible that after potentially igniting a war between Wakanda and Atlantis that Dr. Doom and Latveria become more of a threat to the world. The MCU could call upon the Thunderbolts to try and take him down, especially if they are aligned with the Sokovia Accords and have the approval to go to war with him. The tricky part about making Dr. Doom the Thunderbolts movie villain is figuring out a way for him to “lose” while still being positioned as a major threat going forward. With Victor von Doom’s love of Doombot fakeouts, perhaps that could hold the key. In any case, Thunderbolts could be another way for Dr. Doom to join the MCU without immediately fighting the Fantastic Four.
More: Where Will Dr. Doom Debut In The MCU? Every Possibility
Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2023)Release date: Jul 28, 2023
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About The Author
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Cooper Hood is a news and feature writer for Screen Rant. He joined Screen Rant in late 2016 following a year-long stint with MCU Exchange, which came after first developing an MCU blog of his own. He graduated college in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Media & Public Communication, with a minor in Media Production. Cooper’s love for movies began by watching Toy Story and Lion King on repeat as a child, but it wasn’t until The Avengers that he took an invested interest in movies and the filmmaking process, leading him to discover the world of film journalism. Every year Cooper looks forward to seeing the latest blockbusters from the likes of Marvel, DC, and Star Wars, but also loves the rush to catch up on Oscar films near the end of the year. When he isn’t writing about or watching new releases, Cooper is a fantasy football obsessive and looking to expand his Blu-Ray collection – because physical media is still king! Follow Cooper on Twitter @MovieCooper.
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