Marvel Studios is reportedly developing a movie based on its Thunderbolts IP.

Deadline (Opens in a new tab) has claimed that the next Marvel movie, which will be a "top secret" project, has tapped Jake Schreier (Paper Towns, Brand New Cherry Flavor) to direct the superhero flick. Eric Pearson, who wrote the script for Marvel's Black Widow, has apparently joined as head writer, while Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige will, unsurprisingly, serve as executive producer.

Understandably, not much is known about Marvel's Thunderbolts movie. However, in the hours since Deadline's report, numerous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) insiders have come forward to reveal what they've heard about the potential MCU Phase 4 project.

According to The Wrap (opens in a new tab), Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova, last seen on the TV series Hawkeye, has discussed playing the fan-favorite MCU character in Thunderbolts. Deadline's own report also indicated that Belova would be part of the film's lineup, so it's possible that there is some truth to this casting.

Deadline also suggested that Sebastien Stan's Winter Soldier, Daniel Brühl's Baron Zemo, Olga Kurylenko's Taskmaster, Hannah John-Kamen's Ghost, Wyatt Russell's US Agent and Tim Roth's Abomination could all be involved in the film. Meanwhile, another MCU leaker on Greatphase (Opens in a new tab) has hinted that Ka-Zar, a character from the Savage Lands, who was teased in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, will make his MCU debut in Thunderbolts.

Of these, Belova, US Agent, and Baron Zemo are the most likely to appear. Contessa Fontaine, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, approached the American agent in the fifth episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier to join her new anti-hero team. Belova was also hired by Fontaine during Black Widow's post-credits scene to defeat Hawkeye for his involvement in Natasha Romanoff's death. However, Belova refused to kill Clint Barton after revealing the truth about Romanoff's sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame. Finally, Zemo, handed over to the Dora Milaje in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, could be recruited to amend his role in Captain America: Civil War and the aforementioned Disney Plus show.

Deadline claimed that Marvel has been in contact with several actors about the project, asking them to keep their schedules open ahead of the film's possible shooting next summer. We'll likely get confirmation one way or another at D23 Expo in September, with Marvel Studios making a number of announcements at the event on Saturday, September 10.

Analysis: Who are the Thunderbolts?

Will Yelena Belova Star in Marvel Studios' Thunderbolts Movie? (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Positioned as an anti-Avenger superteam in Marvel comics, the Thunderbolts are a group largely made up of antiheroes or supervillains. They are usually tasked by the US government to tackle threats that the Avengers or other superhero groups aren't available or won't touch on anything. Think of the Thunderbolts as Marvel's answer to DC's Suicide Squad and you'll get the picture.

The Thunderbolts made their comic book debut in January 1997, first appearing in The Incredible Hulk #449. At the time, they were brought in to protect the world after the Avengers were declared dead following the Onslaught comic series of 1996. However, it was later revealed that the Thunderbolts were a front for the supervillain group known as the Masters of Evil, led by Baron Zemo for several years.

Later stories saw the Thunderbolts remove Zemo as their leader, and the group went from being a team of villains/anti-heroes to one with a more heroic calling. It wasn't until Hawkeye, the Clint Barton iteration, became their new commander that the Thunderbolts really turned a corner. Since then, the various members and formations of the group have largely acted on the side of good rather than the side of evil. Still, the Thunderbolts comic series has mostly explored the notion of redemption for its ever-growing roster of superpowered beings, with many of them having a place on the team to walk the path of justice.

The Thunderbolts may be a new superhero team, but surprisingly there have been 11 different rosters in the last 25 years. No fewer than 120 heroes, antiheroes, and villains have made the Thunderbolts roster, with many of these supporting or B-list characters from the Marvel Universe.

The current team is made up of characters MCU fans will recognize, including Hawkeye, America Chavez (who made her MCU debut in Doctor Strange 2), and Spectrum (one of Monica Rambeau's aliases, currently known as Photon in the MCU after gaining powers in WandaVision).

Given the name of the group, some fans may think that General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross, played by the late William Hurt in the MCU, is the person responsible for establishing the Thunderbolts. In the comics, that's not the case, and he's unlikely to position himself as much in the MCU. However, Grace Randolph (opens in a new tab) claimed that Marvel's Thunderbolts movie would be a "nod" to Hurt's portrayal of the character. Additionally, Randolph suggests that Ross will not be recast in the MCU, a move similar to Marvel's reluctance to recast T'Challa after Chadwick Boseman's death in August 2019.

For more MCU-based content, check out our coverage of Ms. Marvel on Disney Plus, including our spoiler-free review and explanation of the first episode's post-credits scene.

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