Thunderbolts* Is Actually A Dark Avengers Movie In New MCU Theory

  • Although Kevin Feige denies it, the asterisk in the Thunderbolts* title may suggest that the title is subject to change, before the movie's release or right at the end of the film.
  • President Ross' wish to create his own Avengers team in Captain America: Brave New World could mirror Norman Osborn's successful transformation of the Thunderbolts team into the Dark Avengers.
  • Thunderbolts*' Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and Captain America: Brave New World's President Ross may be working together to create the ultimate Avengers team replacement.
An MCU fan theory explains how Thunderbolts* is secretly a Dark Avengers movie. Only one of the MCU's upcoming movies in the Phase 5 slate is a crossover film: Thunderbolts*, which brings together a squad of MCU anti-heroes and former villains. Led by Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, the MCU's Thunderbolts team members seemingly join forces against their will, possibly with the goal of redeeming themselves for their criminal past. Val's MCU team has little to do with the original Thunderbolts from the source material, who are led by Baron Zemo and include other villains-turned-heroes such as Songbird and Moonstone.
In the comics, the original Thunderbolts assemble in order to gain power and popularity under the Avengers' shadow, but they soon grow comfortable in their roles as superheroes and flip Baron Zemo's villainous goals around. After Zemo sabotages the team, the Thunderbolts go through several different line-ups and iterations, becoming the go-to secret ops squad for various villainous masterminds. Jake Schreier's Thunderbolts* plot and cast bare little resemblance to the team's comic book counterpart, but this may be a clever misdirection strategy to hide the movie's real title.
Thunderbolts* Title Mystery Explained The Asterisk In The Thunderbolts* Title May Be More Important Than It Seems First announced at San Diego Comic Con 2022, Thunderbolts* received a title with typography that resembled the source material. While the title lacked the team's emblematic lightning logo, it was orange and three-dimensional. Thunderbolts* then went through several changes, including Steven Yeun and Ayo Edibiri's exit from the cast. In March 2024, Florence Pugh's behind-the-scenes footage revealed another change: a minimalistic Thunderbolts* title with a mysterious asterisk, which Marvel Studios' official X account kept in its post. Shortly after, during CinemaCon 2024, Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige addressed the asterisk in the Thunderbolts* title, saying:
Yes, you’ll notice the asterisk on Thunderbolts. That is the official title of Thunderbolts and we won’t talk more about that until after the movie comes out.
Although Kevin Feige affirmed that the asterisk in Thunderbolts* is official, it's possible that the current title is only a temporary misdirection. Previously, Feige tricked the audience at Comic Con 2014, announcing the third Captain America installment as Captain America: Serpent Society, which lowered the audience's guard until he revealed the movie's crowd-pleasing title: Captain America: Civil War. Likewise, the reason why Kevin Feige says he won't discuss the Thunderbolts* asterisk until after the film's release may be that it's hiding a major spoiler, which might only make sense for the audience after watching the movie.
Captain America: Serpent Society's title change isn't the only misdirection Marvel Studios has used to safeguard major reveals. Several Marvel actors have denied their appearance in movies despite their ongoing negotiations or their already confirmed roles. Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, Tatiana Maslany, Jonathan Majors, Patrick Stewart, John Krasinski — and more famously, Andrew Garfield — are some of the actors who affirmed that they wouldn't play their respective MCU roles shortly before the movies and shows proved otherwise. Such could also be the case with Thunderbolts*.
The Thunderbolts* title could be replaced right before its release, or it could change during the end credits, similarly to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier's transformation into Captain America and the Winter Soldier at the end of the Disney+ show's finale.
Captain America: Brave New World Sets Up A New Government Sponsored Avengers Captain America: Brave New World's Plot Seems To Be Linked To Thunderbolts*' Main Premise Close Marvel Studios also released new Captain America: Brave New World footage at CinemaCon 2024. In it, Harrison Ford's President Ross informs Captain America of his intention to recreate Nick Fury's Avengers Initiative, possibly motivated by less honorable reasons than the former SHIELD director. The fact that Ross wishes to build his own version of the Avengers at the same time that Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is assembling her team could simply be a coincidence. However, it's also possible that Val is testing an early version of Ross' Avengers team before presenting him with a definitive line-up.
Related Captain America 4 Confirms Bucky's Real MCU Replacement In Dark New Twist Captain America: Brave New World teases the return of an important Falcon and the Winter Soldier character but with a darker personality. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Valentina Allegra de Fontaine expresses her interest in gaining power and influence with the help of a world-changing resource like Wakanda's vibranium. Vibranium may not be a viable option now that Wakanda is freely sharing its resources with the rest of the world. So, the next best option for Val could lie in the Super Soldier serum and similar enhancements. However, Val may not limit herself to recruiting all the MCU super soldiers she can find. She could also find herself a massive source of power and leverage in leasing out her team to contractors like President Ross.
Theory: The Thunderbolts Are Actually The Dark Avengers The MCU's Thunderbolts* Movie May Be A Dark Avengers Film In Disguise If President Ross and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine are on the same page regarding the potential behind a new Avengers team, it's only logical for them to work together to find the Avengers' replacements before someone else beats them to it. Since the Avengers' refusal to follow orders from governments and private organizations was clear since their inception, Ross and Val could focus on recruiting anti-heroes and villains who wish to clear the red in their ledger. This limits the number and variety of their candidates, but it allows Ross and Val to manipulate their team however they wish.
In the source material, Spider-Man villain Norman Osborn rises to power after taking advantage of an international conflict. With the Avengers no longer active and with enough political influence on his hands, Osborn hires the Thunderbolts as his personal special ops team. Osborn understands that the Avengers' goodwill could mask a similar team's villainous intentions, so he then tweaks the Thunderbolts' line-up in order to make them resemble Earth's Mightiest Heroes as closely as possible. Given that Norman Osborn seems to be absent in the MCU's Earth-616, President Ross and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine could fulfill his role.
In the comics, Thaddeus Ross transforms into the Red Hulk, who becomes a member of the Thunderbolts at one point. If the MCU's Thunderbolts transform into the Dark Avengers, he would be Hulk's perfect villain counterpart.
The asterisk in the Thunderbolts* title, then, could allude to the Thunderbolts' transformation into the Dark Avengers. The titular team could start as a special ops squad hired by Val to help her amass power and resources, but transform into a full-fledged team of villainous Avengers when President Ross buys it from Val. If accurate, this event is unlikely to take place throughout Thunderbolts*' main plot, but it could happen right before the credits roll or during the movie's post-credits scene, concluding the movie with a final twist that answers the asterisk question and sets up a new, yet-to-be-announced MCU team-up movie for Phase 6 or Phase 7.


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