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The real villain of Marvel’s Thunderbolts might have leaked

Published Jan 25th, 2023 9:19PM EST
High quality render of the Thunderbolts concept art by Andy Park.
Image: Reddit

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The MCU Phase 5 is about to start with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, giving us our first look at Marvel’s next big villain. But it’s just one of the high-stakes movies in this chapter, as Phase 5 will provide significant developments that will lead to Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars. One of them is Thunderbolts, the first MCU film to feature a different crossover team than the Avengers. The Thunderbolts team will feature anti-heroes and former villains who will partner up to take on a new threat.

Thunderbolts premieres in July 2024, but we’ve already learned a lot about the movie. We think we know why Earth will need the Thunderbolts. A new villain might threaten the world, and the Avengers can’t be called upon to deal with this problem. But the real Thunderbolts villain might not be who you think. Before we explain, you should know that Thunderbolts spoilers will follow.

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) formed the Avengers to fight threats that regular humans couldn’t. Threats that would be difficult for highly trained professionals without super-powered. And the Avengers could deploy faster and more efficiently than traditional special-ops teams.

They wouldn’t deal with as much bureaucracy, either. We know what happened with the group over the years and how they saved the universe in Endgame, despite their previous differences.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
(L-R): Ayo (Florence Kasumba) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Image source: Marvel Studios

With Fury and the Avengers gone, the Thunderbolts team might fill in that gap. But we’re looking at a group of gifted individuals who might lack the moral compass the Avengers have. We already know the main Thunderbolts team members. Some of them are former MCU villains. Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is one example, although he’s also an Avenger.

Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), US Agent (Wyatt Russell), and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) also qualify. Then, we have Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Red Guardian (David Harbour), who are considered villains from the MCU’s US government’s perspective.

Forming the Thunderbolts team is none other than Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). We finally know who Val is, thanks to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And why she has the authority to lead a team like the Thunderbolts. She’s the head of the CIA and a ruthless individual that could easily be an MCU villain.

The real Thunderbolts villain

We know who is on the Thunderbolts team and who assembles it. We’ll note that we expect other members to show up, like Harrison Ford’s Red Hulk. But why does the world need a shadier Avengers-like group? Why is the US government looking to create it in the first place?

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
(L-R): Olivia Walker (Gabrielle Byndloss), Valentina Allegra DeFontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) and John Walker (Wyatt Russell) in Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Image source: Marvel Studios

A leaker claimed about a month ago that Sentry is the villain the Thunderbolts will face in the movie. The leaker said at the time that Val would create Sentry, and we speculated that the project would fail or Val would lose control of this new super soldier.

The same CanWeGetSomeToast is back with a clarification on the previous Thunderbolts villain take. The leaker said on Twitter that Sentry is the physical antagonist of the Thunderbolts team. But the mastermind is Val.

This indicates that Val is the real villain of Thunderbolts. She might need this particular team of disposable superhero-like individuals to clean up a big mess she might have made. Sentry might be out of her control, and the Thunderbolts should deal with him. Another option is that Val wants to test Sentry’s abilities by sending this special team his way on a suicide mission.

We’re only speculating here, of course. But as we get closer to the Thunderbolts release, we might learn more details about the film’s plot.

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.