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Did Marvel confirm a big leak about Harrison Ford’s character in Thunderbolts?

Updated Jan 19th, 2023 4:44PM EST
High quality render of the Thunderbolts concept art by Andy Park.
Image: Reddit

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Harrison Ford is Marvel’s latest big addition to the MCU’s roster of top-tier talent. The actor will play Thunderbolt Ross, replacing the late William Hurt, who has portrayed the military man turned politician in various MCU adventures.

Ford will make his MCU debut in Captain America: New World Order, although we expect the character to show up in Thunderbolts and other MCU Phase 5 and 6 adventures. That’s because we also anticipate Harrison Ford will become Red Hulk in the MCU, and he’ll be a leader of the Thunderbolts.

These aren’t big Thunderbolt Ross spoilers. After all, Ross becomes Red Hulk in the comics. And he’ll be involved in the creation of the Thunderbolts team. After all, Ross and the group share the same nickname. But we’re about to cover some real spoilers below as we analyze recent rumors and explain how Marvel might have inadvertently confirmed everything. You might want to avoid what follows if you like to avoid Marvel spoilers.

Is Harrison Ford’s Thunderbolt Ross the US president in the MCU?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dropped a massive reveal about the MCU. Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is the ex-wife of Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) and the current head of the CIA. She’s fierce and wants Wakanda’s vibranium, a feeling the US president might share.

We know from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow that Val has been recruiting the Thunderbolts. But she can’t be doing it alone, with the US president likely having to approve plans for covert ops like these. If you already thought that Harrison Ford’s Thunderbolt Ross might be the president who will oversee such programs, then you’d be right to wonder.

We last saw Secretary Ross at the end of Endgame, as he attended the memorial for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Ross’s appearance in Black Widow predates the events of Endgame on the MCU timeline, as that story is a prequel.

Could Ross have become president since then? Anything is possible in the MCU, but it so happens that an insider claimed recently that Thunderbolt Ross would be president in New World Order.

That’s why it makes sense to assume that Ross will oversee the creation of the Thunderbolts team, with Val actually leading the team for now.

How Marvel might have confirmed this big MCU rumor

Imagine having the Red Hulk also be the US president and the leader of the Thunderbolts. That’s certainly an exciting prospect, but one we can’t verify. However, we might know how Thunderbolt Ross becomes president, and it’s all thanks to a different MCU leak that may have been confirmed by Marvel’s Secret Invasion trailer.

First of all, a series of Secret Invasion set photos that made it to Instagram in early March indicated that Dermot Mulroney would play President Ritson in the Disney Plus TV show. There’s no mention of Thunderbolt Ross in this context.

Leaked Secret Invasion set photo.Image source: Instagram

But the set photo leak shows a paper that mentions President Ritson next to James Rhodes (Don Cheadle). The president will be in London for emergency talks following “unprecedented tensions.”

Mulroney avoided questions about his MCU role in interviews. And the connection to Harrison Ford’s Thunderbolt Ross is still unclear. But this brings us to the first Secret Invasion trailer. There’s a scene at the end of it where a helicopter fires missiles at a motorcade. And the camera gives us a look at someone in the cars that are about to explode. 

It sure looks like President Ritson will be attacked in Secret Invasion. We have no idea what happens next, but this is where we’ll speculate that Mulroney’s MCU career might be short-lived. The president might die or be significantly incapacitated during the attack.

Car attack scene from Secret Invasion's first trailer.
Car attack scene from Secret Invasion’s first trailer. Image source: Marvel Studios

This opens the door for Thunderbolt Ross to become president. What’s clear is that Marvel might have inadvertently confirmed this big Harrison Ford rumor even before word got out that Thunderbolt Ross would become US president in the present-day MCU.

Of course, we could be wrong in putting these rumors together. But the narrative certainly fits. And turning Thunderbolt Ross into one of the most influential people on the planet before he becomes Red Hulk would certainly be an exciting development for the character.

More Marvel coverage: For more MCU news, visit our Marvel guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.