'The Falcon and The Winter Soldier' could introduce the Thunderbolts, Baron Zemo's team of supposedly-reformed supervillains
Though Zemo has usually been a villain, he also briefly masqueraded as a hero, leading a team of supposedly reformed bad guys called ‘The Thunderbolts’
The Marvel Studios panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 unveiled new details about the ‘Loki’, ‘WandaVision’, and ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ shows that are coming soon to Disney+. One of the few characters who have been confirmed for the show, outside of Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, is Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), a Sokovian citizen turned terrorist mastermind who expertly manipulated the Avengers against each other during ‘Captain America: Civil War’.
Zemo, who will finally be appearing in his full outfit from the comics, has already established himself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a villain to be reckoned with, which means that his appearance on the show could be used to bring in some of his associates from the comics. Though Zemo has usually been a villain, he also briefly masqueraded as a hero, leading a team of supposedly reformed bad guys called ‘The Thunderbolts’.
In the comics, the Thunderbolts were formed at a time when most of Earth’s heroes were missing in action, allowing the supervillains to gain the adoration of the public in preparation for their ultimate betrayal. Despite their evil intentions, the one-time bad guys eventually had a change of heart and decided to embrace their heroic sides, becoming a government-sponsored strike force along the lines of Suicide Squad.
Now that the Avengers are pretty much disbanded, there is an opening for a new superhero team that the Thunderbolts could attempt to fill. By doing so, they can easily be brought into conflict with the Falcon and Bucky, especially considering the duo are technically outlaws now.
The series could introduce the anti-heroes as a semi-military strike team tasked with bringing the fugitive Avengers to “justice.” If they are brought into the MCU, we could be looking at a very different version of the Thunderbolts, as most of the original members of the team, which included characters like Beetle, Fixer, Moonstone, Atlas, and Songbird, haven’t been introduced into the franchise yet.
We may see versions of the same characters or a new Thunderbolts team with completely new members drawn from the villains who have so far appeared in MCU films and shows. There’s really no telling what Marvel has planned for the new Captain America but seeing Zemo lead his team of would-be heroes against him would be a genuine treat for fans.
The Thunderbolts could serve as excellent villains for Sam to test himself against, while also setting things up for the future of the MCU. In fact, considering how Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) is now believed to be “Earth’s greatest hero” after scamming the whole world in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’, we could be looking at a scenario where the villains slowly take control of public opinion and establish themselves in positions of power by discrediting their heroic rivals and promoting themselves through fake news.
If Marvel does go down this road, our heroes might just find themselves in a situation similar to the ‘Dark Reign’ storyline from the comics, where Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin became America’s top cop and almost managed to bring the whole world under the control of the bad guys. Considering how the Thunderbolts constantly switch between heroics and villainy, they could easily serve as the first step on this extremely dark and twisted path.
‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ will debut on Disney+ in the Fall of 2020.