Thanos may have been killed and life may have been restored, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t an entirely happy place in 2023. The consequences of the Infinity War snap are so much bigger than what we saw so far, and the world will need more time to recover. That includes the Avengers, who have basically disbanded. Iron Man, Black Widow, and Captain America are all dead as far as the world is concerned. Thor has gone off-world with the Guardians, and Captain Marvel has seemingly left as well. Spider-Man was just turned into a villain and Doctor Strange doesn’t have his most powerful weapon at his disposal. That means the Avengers will have to regroup and form a new team that could handle all the threats left out there. But until that happens and we get an Avengers 5 movie that will act as a new starting point for a fresh team of superheroes, someone else needs to swoop in and protect Earth.
Now, a series of reports from different sources that seem to indicate that the MCU is getting the brand new team of heroes that it needs. The new team will replace the Avengers, at least until they can get their act back together with new members. Mind you, at least one major spoiler follows below, so keep away if you don’t want to ruin the surprise.
The first report came a few days ago from 4chan. A leaker who reportedly saw Black Widow, Marvel’s first MCU Phase 4 film, said that the film’s post-credits scenes will deliver the first significant twist of Phase 4. If the leak is accurate, the first scene will tell us that the Taskmaster isn’t dead, and he wasn’t acting alone. He was working with Yelena Belova, Nat’s “sister,” and they were both hired by Thaddeus Ross to retrieve a certain piece of technology. They’re just getting started, Ross will apparently tell them.
We told you at the time that Marvel wouldn’t just kick off Phase 4 with a film that’s mostly a prequel. Black Widow is also supposed to introduce new plot points that will be explored in the future. If these leaks are correct, we’ll learn that Ross had secretly been creating an exceptional team of operatives at some point between the events of Civil War and Infinity War. Killed when Thanos snapped his fingers, Ross returned to life in Endgame, only to discover a brand new world where the Avengers might not be enough to defend Earth. This is just speculation based on the Black Widow plot leaks, but if it’s accurate, the film will deliver the origin story of the Thunderbolts.
This brings us to the first report referencing this Marvel team of heroes that might hit the MCU next. Marvel leaker Daniel Richtman mentioned the Thunderbolts on his Patreon channel, (via MCU Cosmic). According to that post, the Thunderbolts will appear in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TFATWS), which premieres on Disney+ later this year. The series is expected to bring back Baron Zemo, one of the team’s leaders from the comics.
But wait, there’s more…
Over on Murphy’s Multiverse, Charles Murphy has discovered evidence that suggests actress Miki Ishikawa, who joined the TFATWS cast in December, may be playing Jolt, one of the original Thunderbolts:
First introduced in 1997’s Thunderbolts #1, Hallie Takahama, aka Jolt, is one of the first members to be added to the Thunderbolts initial roster. Following experimentation by Arnim Zola, Jolt became attuned to her body’s bioelectric field to the extent that she could both weaponize it and use it to move incredibly fast.
The actress shared on Instagram an image featuring a tiny lightning bolt tattoo (see the Instagram post above), which fits well with the Thunderbolts since their logo is a lightning bolt. Then she liked a comment that read “can’t wait to see you as Jolt in the MCU!” before the comment vanished.
With all that in mind, it sure looks like the Thunderbolts will be teased in Black Widow and then formally introduced in TFATWS. If all of this is accurate, then we also know the first members of the team: Taskmaster, Yelena’s Black Widow, Baron Zemo, and Jolt.