Thunderbolts: Release date, cast, plot & more

The cast of Marvel's Thunderbolts movieMarvel Studios

Here’s everything we know about Thunderbolts, the MCU’s Suicide Squad movie, from its release date to cast, plot, trailer updates, and more.

Phase Five is off to a bumpy start: the Marvel Cinematic Universe had one of its biggest flops ever with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, only to follow it up with the brilliant (but singular) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, which then teed up the franchise’s worst Disney+ show yet with Secret Invasion.

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Next up is The Marvels, the long-awaited sequel to Captain Marvel, which could be the greatest test yet of whether MCU fatigue is in the air. Deadpool 3 will kick off next year’s releases, which also include Thunderbolts, set to be one of the most significant films in the franchise’s future.

So, here’s what we know about Thunderbolts so far.

Thunderbolts release date: When is it coming out?

Thunderbolts is due for release in cinemas on December 20, 2024.

This is five months later than its original July release date in the same year, coming after Disney and Marvel rejigged the theatrical slate, as per The Hollywood Reporter.

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It was originally supposed to be the final movie in Phase Five before Fantastic Four, but it’ll now be followed by Blade in the early months of 2025. Prior to Thunderbolts, Captain America: Brave New World is also due to hit cinemas in the summer.

However, we should not that there could be further delays due to the writers’ and actors’ strikes currently gripping Hollywood, which prevents further development and promotion.

Thunderbolts explained: Who are they?

In the simplest terms, the Thunderbolts are Marvel’s Suicide Squad, with one iteration of the team named after Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross, earlier played by the late William Hurt.

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They first debuted in a 1997 issue of The Incredible Hulk. “After the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes appeared to die during the Onslaught incident, Baron Zemo concocted a devious plan to take advantage of the resulting chaos by disguising his Masters of Evil as superheroes,” the team’s Marvel biography reads.

A Thunderbolts comic book cover.Marvel Comics
The Thunderbolts have evolved since 1997.

“While the ruse didn’t last forever, the concept of the team did, and the Thunderbolts have existed in one form or another ever since.”

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The team started off with the following members: Baron Zemo, Beetle, Fixer, Goliath, Moonstone, and Screaming Mimi. It has evolved over the years, as well as having other leaders in Zemo’s absence such as Hawkeye, Norman Osborne, Luke Cage, Winter Soldier, Wilson Fisk, and Thunderbolt Ross.

In terms of members, the following villains have been associated with the Thunderbolts: Taskmaster, Venom, Ghost, Crossbones, Juggernaut, Doctor Octopus, and Abomination. There’s also been the likes of The Punisher, US Agent, Elektra, Nighthawk, Deadpool, Ghost Rider, and Eric O’Grady’s Ant-Man.

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Thunderbolts cast: Who’s in it, and are there any returning characters?

The following stars have been confirmed for the Thunderbolts cast:

  • Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
  • Olga Kurylenko as Taskmaster
  • Wyatt Russell as US Agent
  • Sebastian Stan as Winter Soldier
  • Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost
  • David Harbour as Red Guardian
  • Anthony Mackie as Captain America

During a recent appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Harbour spoke about the movie and how it’ll develop the relationship between Red Guardian and Yelena.

“I started working on it already and it’s like phenomenal. Again, it’s hard to these projects because I sound like such a dumb idiot so all I say is like that’s a great script. But it’s true. I’m blessed to work with the Duffers, who write some of the greatest scripts on television and this, you know, these Marvel writers are writing incredible epic stories and they’re letting the Red Guardian do stuff that he’s never done before. That relationship with Yelena, we get to go into that more, and it’s funny and satisfying in a real emotional way. Yeah, I’m just really blessed with these two amazing projects that aren’t shooting,” he said.

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Harrison Ford is also expected to star as General Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross following his debut in Captain America: Brave New World, filling the role once played by the late William Hurt. However, a new leak says it won’t be the same Thunderbolt Ross we’ve seen before – he’ll be President of the United States, who also happens to be Red Hulk.

For Julia Louis-Dreyfus, her turn as Valentina is one that many may not have been expecting. After all, the actor is best known for her iconic comedy roles in the likes of Seinfeld and Veep. However, it appears she is looking forward to having a starring role in an MCU film. In an interview with Collider, she spoke about her role in the upcoming Thunderbolts film and how her kids had a major influence in her taking the job.

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“They’re interested in this, of course. But the point is that, for years, both of my boys have been saying, “Mom, why don’t you do a Marvel movie? Do a Marvel movie. Do a Marvel movie.” And I’m like, “Oh, they’re not going to pick me for a Marvel movie.” And then they did. And I was like, “Oh yeah. Now my boys are going to be psyched.”

On February 23, 2023, Deadline reported that former The Walking Dead cast member Steven Yeun was joining the cast of the Thunderbolts. According to this new report, Yeun will join the MCU in “a part that is not only significant to this film but could also play a role going forward in future films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

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Jake Schreier, who earlier directed Paper Towns has been tapped to direct the script penned by Black Widow scribe Eric Pearson.

Thunderbolts plot: What is it about?

Given the decades-spanning stories of the Thunderbolts and the tidbits of information we have about the film, there’s no confirmed plot details about Thunderbolts at the time of writing.

However, seeds have been sowed, in hindsight. At the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which showed Wyatt Russell’s John Walker disastrously taking on the Captain America mantle, only to be recruited by Valentina, rebranded as US Agent.

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Valentina and US Agent in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. There's no Thunderbolts release date.Disney +
Valentina and US Agent are expected to star in Thunderbolts.

In the post-credits scene of Black Widow, Yelena was assigned to kill Clint Barton by Valentina, for whom she blamed Natasha’s death in Avengers: Infinity War.

It seems the MCU is heading towards a team similar to the Dark Avengers, orchestrated by the shadiest echelons of the government. As Amanda Waller said in Suicide Squad, “I wanna build a team of some very bad people who I think can do some good.”

According to actor David Harbour, the film will focus a lot on the characters and them developing as a haphazard team. He stated to Collider, “It’s really cool. We introduce a thing that’s super cool. It’s vital. I’m psyched that Julia Louis Dreyfus’ character is going to be, in a bigger way, explored. One of the things you’ll probably know is that the ‘me and Florence’ dynamic will be in there and explored in a way that’s really cool.

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“But all these guys, Sebastian’s character, Wyatt’s character, I just love this mercenary element in the MCU. MCU has always been sort of elevated in a certain way. Captain America, even Iron Man, although he has egos, are always in it for the right reasons or ultimately does the right thing.

“And I like these guys who are a bunch of losers or a bunch of guys who can’t quite get it right. And so far what [Marvel has] pitched me just feels really cool.”

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Thunderbolts trailer: Is there a trailer, and where can I watch it?

There’s no official Thunderbolts trailer at the time of writing. As the movie isn’t due out for another two years, don’t expect one to drop any time soon – but we’ll update this space when a trailer is released.

That’s all we know about Thunderbolts right now. In the meantime, you can check out our other MCU hubs below:

The Marvels | Deadpool 3 | Captain America 4 | Blade | Fantastic Four | Avengers: The Kang Dynasty | Avengers: Secret Wars | Loki Season 2 | Daredevil: Born Again | Armor Wars

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