The villains are ready to take over the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

After a lot of hints that the group could be coming in the years ahead, it looks like Marvel is readying a movie based on Thunderbolts, an occasional Marvel comic that typically involves characters who are villains who masquerade as heroes, or villains who are forced into service by the U.S. Government. (Think Marvel’s answer to The Suicide Squad.)

According to Deadline, Marvel has picked Jake Schreier to direct the “top secret” project after his presentation “in recent weeks blew away execs and ultimately [landed] him the job.” They note that it’s unclear as of yet which incarnation of the Thunderbolts, and there have been several, will appear in the film.

They also note that the membership of the team is also very much uncertain as well:

The other element that is vague is which character will be part of this team since film it is technically still in development, though sources say Marvel has been in touch with certain individuals who are already part of the MCU to make sure to keep an opening in their schedules for next summer when it shoots. That said, some of the characters that could potentially be starring or making some sort of appearance include Baron Zemo, Yelena Belova, Ghost, Taskmaster, The Abomination, US Agent and Winter Soldier

The original Thunderbolts were introduced in the mid-90s in the aftermath of a storyline where the Avengers and the Fantastic Four all died. (They got better; that’s how comics works.) While the heroes were gone, a new team of heroes dubbed the Thunderbolts arrived to fill the void — but they were actually a team of villains previously known as the Masters of Evil in disguise. Their leader, Baron Zemo, thought it might be easier to take over the world by playing the good guy rather than fighting the good guys, as it were.


Zemo never quite succeeded, and eventually the group became a bit more of a generic hero team after he was booted out (Hawkeye actually lead this version for a while). Then the concept was essentially rebooted with Norman Osborn (AKA the Green Goblin) as the Thunderbolts’ leader. This was the Suicide Squad style version of the group, with Osborn in the Amanda Waller role as a government bureaucrat who gets criminals to do his dirty work on the government’s behalf.

Later, Luke Cage started his own Thunderbolts with a less evil spin on the same concept; helping criminals who want to reform earn their way to freedom. In the years since, General Ross, the Winter Soldier, and Kingpin have each led their own basically unrelated teams of Thunderbolts.

All of those characters exist in the MCU and could conceivably be in the movie (although William Hurt, the actor who portrayed General Ross, recently passed away). Recent Marvel shows and films have featured Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a character recruiting Marvel heroes like Black Widow and U.S. Agent for some sort of unknown purpose; odds are these characters will become the core of this group.

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