Thunderbolts* Set Photo Hints At MCU Retconning Bucky"s Arm

  • New Thunderbolts* set photos hint at Bucky keeping his black and gold vibranium arm, raising continuity questions.
  • Leaked images suggest Thunderbolts* may retcon events from The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.
  • Bucky's character development could involve receiving a new arm, possibly made of adamantium, in Thunderbolts*.
New set photos from Thunderbolts* have leaked online, suggesting a possible retcon of Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity. Releasing on May 2, 2025, the Thunderbolts* cast features several returning Marvel stars and characters, including Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova and Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier. The latter, having last appeared in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, is currently under some scrutiny due to some set photos that leaked online. Despite not appearing as Bucky since 2021, an important development occurred for the Winter Soldier in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special that these images seem to contradict.
The Marvel Comics team Thunderbolts* will enter the MCU timeline in 2025. After production was affected by the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike and after celebrated actor Steven Yuen was removed from the cast, the film began production in 2024. Following previously announced release dates of July and December 2024, the film is finally poised to come to theaters in the summer of 2025. Due to a perceived lack of faith in the Marvel brand affected by some of these rapid changes, there is some worry that the film's continuity may not satisfactorily align with MCU canon.
Bucky Has His Black And Gold Vibranium Arm In Thunderbolts* Set Photos Leaked Images Have Led To Speculation On Continuity A new set photo from the currently filming Thunderbolts* shared by Just Jared suggests that Bucky may still have his black and gold vibranium arm despite losing it in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. The image was published on May 11 and features a goateed Sebastian Stan with long hair dressed in a suit. Behind Stan, a woman is walking carrying what appears to be a glove from the Winter Soldier's 2018 armor. While this image does not show the entire arm, the reappearance of this classic costume piece is notable and raises questions about the film itself.
Image from Just Jared The plot for Thunderbolts* is mostly unknown, with only a list of the characters that will be appearing and elements of the source material to draw from. The film is confirmed to include characters like U.S. Agent and Red Guardian, suggesting that there will be connections to the American and Russian spy organizations each have been involved with. Consequentially, tying Thunderbolts* to the cosmic side of Marvel and featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy seems unlikely. This has led to speculation concerning events that took place with Rocket Raccoon and Nebula.
Thunderbolts* May Be Retconning The Guardians of the Galaxy Christmas Special Rewriting Marvel Canon May Not Be A Bad Thing Close In The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Nebula steals Bucky Barnes' arm to give to Rocket Raccoon. While this is an effective joke in the lighthearted Disney+ special and pays off a line from Avengers: Infinity War, it also creates complications that Thunderbolts* may have to address. If unaddressed, this would set a strange new precedent for the generally connected universe, especially after Guardians of the Galaxy director and current DC co-CEO James Gunn has gone out of his way on X to reiterate the canonicity of this event in response to fan questions.
Marvel is usually good at keeping their continuity in place, and even dismissing the Holiday Special as a multiversal story feels more likely than Marvel doing nothing to address this. Still, with James Gunn gone from Marvel and with The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special being a Disney+ special and not a full feature, this wouldn't be an especially consequential detail to skip over. If Bucky's original arm is important to the events of Thunderbolts*, and there is no room to address its loss, then it might be to the film's benefit for Marvel to gloss over this detail.
How It's Possible Thunderbolts* May Not Be A Retcon The Change Could Easily Be Undone There are several ways that Thunderbolts* could give his arm back other than a retcon without much effort. Following the question of what Rocket did with Bucky's arm, it'd be easier to imagine he grew guilty or dissatisfied and built a new, better arm for himself, with either making it possible he returned the original to its owner. If this kind of setup was taken into account, Bucky getting his arm back could be addressed in a single line of dialogue.
It is also possible that the leaked photos are from flashback scenes of Bucky being pardoned after Avengers: Endgame. Inside the Multiverse Saga, it is even possible that the arm taken in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special came from a Bucky of another universe.
The most likely scenario is that Thunderbolts* begins before The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special takes place. The film is set to follow the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and no story has been told with Bucky Barnes appearing since that series. However, in subsequent films, it is common for heroes to change and upgrade their suits and armor. Because of this, a story could be told using the absence of Bucky's arm as a chance for him to upgrade and become stronger and better.
Why Bucky Should Get A New Arm In Thunderbolts* New Gear Can Be A Reflection Of Character Changes Bucky's character has evolved with his arm, and receiving a new one in Thunderbolts* could be an effective way to continue that trajectory. After Bucky was taken by HYDRA in 1945, he was given a metal arm. After Iron Man destroyed that arm in Captain America: Civil War, Bucky completed his transition to hero by joining the Avengers and receiving a new, improved Vibranium arm. These arms correspond to the characters' phases as hero and villain, so it would be appropriate if Bucky gained a new arm in Thunderbolts* to signify his character's evolution from hero to something else.
There have been rumors about the inclusion of adamantium in the Marvel Universe, including the introduction of this new metal in the upcoming Captain America: Brave New World. A clear and direct link to the X-Men, adamantium could also be a stronger metal than Vibranium, making it a logical upgrade for Bucky. If the Brave New World rumors are true and the film is about American forces working to gain this new metal, then logically, Valentina could have access to it in Thunderbolts* and offer a new arm to incentivize Bucky to join her team.
It is rumored that adamantium, the metal attached to Wolverine's bones, will enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe by being mined from the fallen Celestial Tiamut's body, last seen in the Indian Ocean at the end of Eternals.
While little is known of the plot of Thunderbolts*, it seems likely that there will be some focus on giving Bucky a new arm. This metal appendage has been an essential part of the character's physical makeup, and as a brawling hero, his working without something in its stead seems unlikely. From these images, it is good to see that Bucky's arm will return in Thunderbolts*. Still, audiences will likely see Sebastian Stan's Bucky Barnes outfitted with a new and improved version of his gear by the end of the film.
Thunderbolts (2025) Marvel's Thunderbolts is a superhero movie based on the comic team of the same name. The movie acts as a part of the MCU's fifth phase of films. The film sees the likes of Bucky Barnes, Yelena Belova, Wyatt Russell, the Red Guardian, and more as an unlikely group of heroes and villains brought together to fight for good.
Director Jake Schreier Release Date May 2, 2025 Studio(s) Marvel Studios Distributor(s) Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Writers Lee Sung Jin Cast Sebastian Stan , Wyatt Russell , Julia Louis-Dreyfus , Tim Roth , Daniel Brühl , Florence Pugh , David Harbour , Olga Kurylenko , Harrison Ford Expand Upcoming MCU Movies
Release Date
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July 26, 2024
Captain America: Brave New World
February 14, 2025
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The Fantastic Four
July 25, 2025
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May 1, 2026
Avengers: Secret Wars
May 7, 2027
Source: Just Jared


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