Fans who attended the Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Studio Showcase were eager to hear more about the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe reboot of Marvel's First Family. After John Krasinski made a surprise appearance as Mr. Fantastic in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), fans were anticipating some sort of casting after WandaVision (2021) director Matt Shakman was announced to direct the project. It's just too early and far out to reveal anything further, though.
The film, which will be unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, will essentially be Marvel's take on DC's Suicide Squad, following a ragtag group of villains and anti-heroes who begrudgingly fight crime to pay their debt to society. This group has undergone quite a few changes in the comics, from full-blown villains just playing a part to a group of truly remorseful criminals who are trying to wipe the red off their
Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes
Sebastian Stan will be playing Steve Rogers' old pal, Bucky Barnes, in Phase 1's Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), who had previously been a good foot taller and an admirable friend.
Bucky was miraculously cured, but his fate may have been worse than death. He was discovered by HYDRA, brainwashed by the organization, fitted with a mechanical arm, and revived when his masters needed an enemy, one target even being his old colleague, Howard Stark. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Steve and Bucky meet again, only this time without his knowledge.
The Winter Soldier was last seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021), in which Bucky assists Sam Wilson, the hero once known as the Falcon, who was chosen by Steve to be his replacement to the shield. He was also paying his debt to society and those he unknowingly harmed in that film. That is a theme that will continue in Thunderbolts.
Florence Pugh as Black Widow/Yelena Belova
Yelena Belova, like her surrogate sister Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), was able to reveal the truth to Yelena and the rest of her spy family during the 1990s. They defeated Dreykov and Yelena finally found her sister back, although for a brief time.
Yelena was the unlucky half of the universe to be vaporized by Thanos's snap in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), but she was able to recover her life five years later thanks to a mysterious donor who has taken an interest in somewhat rough-around heroes. She manipulates Yelena into believing that Clint Barton, better known as Hawkeye, was the one who killed Natasha in the name of revenge. This might exacerbate a feud between her and Val.
David Harbour as the Red Guardian/Alexei Shostakov
David Harbour, who plays a Russian copycat of Captain America in Black Widow, is another standout, yet he lacks the "Star-Spangled Man with a Plan" aura.
Alexei was the subject of a Russian super soldier program that gave Cap his powers; despite not having the original serum, the program worked, but despite doing everything that General Dreykov requested of him, he never got a chance to shine. This is not to say that he is a total fraud, since he still serves as a surrogate daughter and now teammate.
Wyatt Russell as U.S. Agent/John Walker
John Walker, the former Captain America's replacement and now the dwindling US agent, has been chosen by Steve Rogers for the job of Captain. Walker was chosen by the government who in turn chose US Army Captain John Walker, a supposedly squeaky clean veteran who appeared to fit the role.
Walker's close friend Lemar Hoskins was murdered while investigating the super-terrorist Karli Morgenthau (Erin Mae Kellyman) and her Flag-Smashers. He later found a stolen super soldier serum sample and drank it before brutally killing a defenseless Flag-Smasher in front of a crowd of witnesses. Though he may have received the cap, it wasn't enough to make Walker a flawless hero.
Olga Kurylenko as Taskmaster/Antonia Dreykov
Olga Kyrylenko, a third alumnus of Black Widow, will reprise her role as Taskmaster, who has historically been one of the most formidable opponents in the Marvel Universe. Antonia is the daughter of Dreykov, who was harmed with a severe brain injury while investigating a situation. She was lucky (or rather cursed) to learn the moves of any opponent.
Antonia studies the fighting styles of virtually all Avengers while under Dreykov's control, becoming the crown jewel in Dreykov's army of assassins. Natasha freed Antonia from Dreykov's control and she was last seen being aided by the other liberated Widows, but she has demonstrated that she hasn't abandoned her potential as a fighter.
Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr/Ghost
Hannah John-Kamen, the only member of the team to be unable to return from Black Widow or The Fairy Tale and the Winter Soldier, has returned as the antagonist in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018). Ava was born into a quantum entanglement accident that caused her to shift into and out of reality. Instead of finding a cure for her, S.H.I.E.L.D. exploited her condition for their own benefit.
She sought help from Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), who encouraged her to use his former colleague Hank Pym's (Michael Douglas) technology for her own. She went about things aggressively, eventually meeting Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and his friends, who promised to find a cure for her condition.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, played by Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is the ringleader of the Thunderbolts. Despite her brief appearances in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow, little is known about the mysterious benefactor. Valentina appears to be averse to the Avengers because she tried to persuade Yelena to kill Hawkeye, and her comics counterpart has ties to HYDRA.
Daniel Bruhl as Baron Helmut Zemo, how does he fare?
Daniel Bruhl was the biggest omission from the Thunderbolts cast announcement, and that's a surprise given how important Baron Zemo has been to the Thunderbolts comics. After losing his family during the Ultron conflict in Sokovia, Zemo used his resources and influence to enact several schemes to wipe them out, which led to an unlikely alliance between him and Sam Wilson, who tried to bring him to justice, but Zemo fled and began hunting superhumans.
What makes Zemo's absence so peculiar is that he's always been an essential member of the team in the comics in some capacity. Perhaps this time he'll be playing the villain of the film, since he's most likely to avoid working with Bucky or John Walker again.