MCU Villain Actor’s Return Promise Makes One Major Thunderbolts* Theory Even More Likely

  • Thunderbolts* will debut in 2025, introducing a new MCU team.
  • The movie's cast includes breakout and underrated characters.
  • Zemo's MCU history and connection to Thunderbolts suggest a surprise appearance, and Daniel Brühl's return comments tease that theory.
2025 will see the debut of a new Marvel Cinematic Universe team in Thunderbolts*, and I'm convinced that the upcoming movie is hiding a key villain. The Thunderbolts will act as a sort of MCU version of the Suicide Squad from DC — both teams are similar in the comics — with reports even stating that in an earlier draft of the movie, the MCU team would die on a mission. That concept is brimming with potential, allowing the Thunderbolts to appear throughout multiple projects in Marvel's slate, with a rotating roster to boot.
The cast of Marvel's Thunderbolts* has been announced. The MCU movie will bring back breakout characters like Wyatt Russell's John Walker, Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova, as well as Sebastian Stan's veteran Bucky Barnes, and underrated characters like Hannah John-Kamen's Ghost. It will be interesting to see how characters from different MCU storylines fare together, with some exciting dynamics potentially coming from the ordeal. With a great roster and the mysterious role Sentry's MCU debut will play in the film, Thunderbolts* is in great shape, though I feel a surprise appearance could make the movie even better.
Related Who Are MCU's Thunderbolts? Team Members, Origin & Comic History Explained Marvel Studios is officially working on a Thunderbolts movie, with production to begin in 2023. Here"s all you need to know about the Thunderbolts!
Baron Zemo's Actor Comments Make A Thunderbolts* Theory Seem More Likely Zemo Has Not Been Confirmed For The Movie Close Baron Zemo made his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War. The character's latest appearance in the franchise was in 2021's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson had to begrudgingly work with Zemo in Madripoor. While the character has not been announced as part of Thunderbolts*'s cast and Zemo has no future set in the MCU, actor Daniel Brühl remains confident that he will return as Baron Zemo in the MCU. Speaking to Screen Rant, the MCU star commented on his chances of coming back as Zemo.
Brühl is unbothered by Zemo's uncertain fate, saying, "I'm still not dead, I'm very confident that I'll be back." The actor also noted that he is a patient man and can wait for the right time to play Zemo again. With so many characters joining the MCU in the past couple of years, it makes sense that Zemo and others have been cast aside for some time before returning. A Thunderbolts* theory claims that Zemo could emerge as the new leader of the team at the end of the film, and Brühl's comments could hint at more under the surface.
Related Why Isn't Zemo On The Thunderbolts Movie Team? Daniel Brühl"s Baron Zemo was absent in the MCU"s first look at Marvel"s Thunderbolts at D23. There"s an in-story reason why he wasn"t included.
Baron Zemo's Return In Thunderbolts* Would Continue An 8-Year-Old MCU Storyline Zemo's MCU History Is Eventful Close I would love for Zemo to be revealed as a surprise character in Thunderbolts*. Since his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, Brühl has made Zemo one of the MCU's most intriguing characters, with the villain becoming one of the most successful in the franchise. Baron Zemo wanted to get revenge on the Avengers for the death of his family in Sokovia due to the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. The character was successful in his mission, breaking up the MCU team so effectively that the Avengers even lost to Thanos in their first meeting.
However, in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Zemo was less of an antagonist. Sure, the character was not "good" by any means, going on to plan the deaths of the rest of the Flag Smashers while they were being transported to prison already, but Zemo's interactions with Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes showed that there is great potential for the character under a morally gray team. Well, Thunderbolts* is the project that offers such a story for Zemo to shine, and I believe he could leave an even bigger mark on the MCU if he does appear.
Related Marvel's Thunderbolts*: Cast, Release Date & Everything We Know With an MCU Thunderbolts* movie officially in development, here"s everything that"s known so far including potential cast, story, & release date.
Baron Zemo's Marvel Comics History Makes An MCU Thunderbolts* Appearance Make So Much Sense Zemo Is Connected To The Thunderbolts Close Zemo is deeply connected to the Thunderbolts in Marvel Comics. The character was the founding member of the team, with Zemo going on to serve as the Thundebolts' leader throughout different iterations. Based on that and the popularity of Brühl's Zemo, it surprises me that Marvel would choose not to include the character in the movie. Giving Zemo a cameo appearance that sets up a future with the Thunderbolts could be in the cards.
Confirmed Thunderbolts Cast Member
Character The Actor Plays
Sebastian Stan
James "Bucky" Barnes, A.K.A. The Winter Soldier
Florence Pugh
Yelena Belova
Wyatt Russell
John Walker, A.K.A. US Agent
David Harbour
Alexei Shostakov, A.K.A. Red Guardian
Hannah John-Kamen
Ava Starr, A.K.A. Ghost
Olga Kurylenko
Antonia Dreykov, A.K.A. Taskmaster
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine
Geraldine Viswanathan
Lewis Pullman
Bob Reynolds, A.K.A. Sentry
While Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is the one responsible for assembling the Thunderbolts in the MCU, that does not mean that she will continue serving as the team's leader beyond Thunderbolts*. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has confirmed that Bucky is the Thunderbolts' field leader, and given his connection to Zemo, Bucky could recruit him after Valentina possibly part ways with the Thunderbolts by the end of the film. Zemo would shine on the big stage with his iconic mask from the comics, and with Brühl's comments, I'm holding out hope that he is secretly in Thunderbolts*.
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 Writers Lee Sung Jin Cast Sebastian Stan , Wyatt Russell , Julia Louis-Dreyfus , Tim Roth , Daniel Brühl , Florence Pugh , David Harbour , Olga Kurylenko , Harrison Ford Franchise(s) Marvel Cinematic Universe Upcoming Marvel Movies
Release Date
Deadpool & Wolverine
July 26, 2024
Captain America: Brave New World
February 14, 2025
May 2, 2025
The Fantastic Four
July 25, 2025
November 7, 2025
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
May 1, 2026
Avengers: Secret Wars
May 7, 2027


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