Could the Title Change Tease a Major Avengers Connection?

    Will the MCU’s Thunderbolts rebrand themselves as the Dark Avengers?

    We’re a little over a year out from the debut of Marvel’s Thunderbolts movie, the new ensemble film surrounding a number of Marvel Cinematic Universe antiheroes. Although production on Thunderbolts still ongoing, we got a major — and unexpected — update on it during this week’s CinemaCon presentation. As part of Walt Disney Studios’ presentation at the event, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige unveiled a new title treatment for Thunderbolts, confirming that the film’s current title is actually Thunderbolts*. Feige teased that the asterisk will be narratively explained, saying “that is the official title of Thunderbolts* and we won’t talk more about that until after the movie comes out.”

    This new detail has launched a flurry of speculation about the titular Thunderbolts team, and whether or not they might rebrand themselves into a different name. In particular, some have wondered if there’s a chance that Thunderbolts* could ultimately become a Dark Avengers movie.

    Will Thunderbolts* Become a Dark Avengers Movie?

    In the pages of Marvel Comics, the concept of the Dark Avengers originates during “Dark Reign”, as the main Avengers are disbanded by the government in the aftermath of “Secret Invasion.” In their absence, Norman Osborn attempts to use the Avengers name to hide his secret team of villains and antiheroes in plain sight, forming a team that can be disguised as alternate versions of established heroes

    Granted, the potential transformation from the MCU’s Thunderbolts to the Dark Avengers probably wouldn’t happen in the same exact way, especially when nearly all of the team’s confirmed members are variations of a sword-and-gun civilian. Still, if the Avengers really are disassembled, as the new details surrounding Captain America: Brave New World seem to suggest, then it stands to reason that Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) and President Ross (Harrison Ford) could use that power vacuum to help launch the team more officially. (The change from Thunderbolts* to Dark Avengers would also help sell the concept of the movie to general audiences, but that’s a whole separate conversation in and of itself.) 

    What Is Thunderbolts* About?

    Thunderbolts* is expected to be based on the Marvel Comics team of the same name, an alliance of antiheroes and villains who reluctantly work for the government. The cast of Thunderbolts includes Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier, David Harbour as Red Guardian, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, Wyatt Russell as John Walker / U.S. Agent, Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr / Ghost, Olgya Kurylenko as Taskmaster, and Harrison Ford as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. New cast members will include Lewis Pullman as Robert Reynolds / Sentry, and Geraldine Viswanathan in a mystery role.

    “I just made a joke about [how] it’s like Dungeons and Dragons, where you meet in a tavern and it’s like there’s a dwarf drinking a beer and then there’s like an elvish figure over there, we all come together and then there’s this ghost… it’s not gonna happen like that, I don’t think,” Harbour told in a 2022 interview. “But I think that’s one of the mysteries of the movie is what is their relationship, and as you say, there is a lot of exciting things as you wrap up the next phase in terms of sort of what their part of the whole universe is in this random, chaotic way. So, you know, we can’t say too much at this point, but they’re an exciting introduction of this team together again, that’s going to be a lot of fun.”

    What do you think of the Thunderbolts* title change? Do you think the film will become a Dark Avengers story? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

    Thunderbolts* is set to be released exclusively in theaters on May 5, 2025.

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