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MCU Rumor: The Thunderbolts Name Does Not Mean What Marvel Fans Think

"Thunderbolts" is on its way, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe film is ready to bring numerous villains and anti-heroes alike back to the franchise forefront. Among others, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), and Red Guardian (David Harbour) are set to team up under Valentina Allegra de Fontaine's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) command. Little is known about their mission, the film's overall plot, or what surprises are in store for MCU fans. However, rumors have potentially revealed the meaning behind the titular team's name — and it's not what many longtime Marvel fans might think.

Naturally, one might imagine that the Thunderbolts are named after the ever-plotting Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (Harrison Ford), who is a main antagonist in "Captain America: Brave New World." But according to Hollywood insider CanWeGetSomeToast, Ross doesn't even have a presence in the film. Therefore, they claim in an Instagram post that the Thunderbolts' name will actually be attributed to Belova's childhood soccer team. Time will tell how true this claim is, or if it's unfounded.

If this is the case, the change would be in line with the MCU's Thunderbolts team straying far from its comic book equivalent. 

The MCU's Thunderbolts team has largely strayed from its Marvel Comics equivalent

It's worth remembering that in the pages of Marvel Comics, Thunderbolt Ross isn't responsible for bringing the Thunderbolts team together. He only takes over the team after it has already been established. Rather, that honor — or dishonor — goes to Baron Helmut Zemo, who creates it to seemingly step in for the Avengers, only for it to be revealed that he and his villainous cohorts have no desire to be heroes. Over the years, the team goes through numerous membership changes and leaders, with the Green Goblin, Hawkeye, and Luke Cage spearheading the operation over time.

At the time of this writing, it doesn't appear that the MCU's Zemo (Daniel Brühl) will have anything to do with the Thunderbolts' founding, which is a pretty big change from the source material. The other major change is the on-screen lineup, consisting of Yelena Belova, Bucky Barnes, Red Guardian, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), and U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell). In the comics, all of these names join the Thunderbolts roster at one point or another, but they're never all on the team at the same time. In this way, the MCU's Thunderbolts appear to be an amalgamation of multiple comic incarnations.

It'll be interesting to see just how different of a direction "Thunderbolts" takes with the team and if there's any overlap with the source material when the film premieres on May 2, 2025.