Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Big Player Missing From MCU's Thunderbolts Lineup

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were treated to some exciting news at Disney's D23 2022 event, as one of the projects we finally received more information about is "Thunderbolts," a movie about one of the most unusual superhero teams ever conceived within the Marvel Comics universe, or any universe for that matter.

As die-hard Marvel readers will tell you, the original premise for the Thunderbolts was that they were a team of new superheroes whom, at the end of the first issue, were revealed to be classic Marvel villains in disguise, taking on new identities for their own personal gain. Subsequent versions of the Thunderbolts — later positioned more as a black-ops team — have included major bad guys like Venom, Bullseye, and Crossbones. And the upcoming live-action "Thunderbolts" has a lineup of MCU villains and antiheroes befitting that premise: Red Guardian (David Harbour), Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), US Agent (Wyatt Russell), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), Yelena Belova, and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), all under the tutelage of Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss).

Readers of the "Thunderbolts" comic book series know that there is one conspicuously absent player in that lineup, though, and it's a character who has already prominently appeared before in the MCU.

Baron Zemo is the leader of the Thunderbolts in the comics

There's one huge absence from the lineup of the MCU Thunderbolts, and it's the guy who — in the comics — led the team in the first place: Baron Zemo.

In the MCU, Zemo (Daniel Brühl) is a very different character from his comics counterpart, a notorious super-criminal who dreams up a team of false superheroes in order to gain and exploit the trust of the public. Nonetheless, Zemo's appearances in MCU projects like "Captain America: Civil War" and "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" have made him a fan-favorite villain. This was particularly the case in the latter project, which established his baron status, further explored his hatred of superhumans, and featured him in a dance scene that became a meme. 

One would think this was an ideal setup for the upcoming "Thunderbolts" movie, particularly since US Agent (Wyatt Russell) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) are in the team. But for whatever reason, Brühl was not included in any of the advance announcements about the movie. Given the MCU's penchant for secrecy, it's very possible that the character is being hidden for some sort of twist: again, the first "Thunderbolts" comic ever ended on that jaw-dropping twist that the team's leader, Citizen V, was Zemo. 

Glaring as Zemo's absence is, he's not the only characters fans are missing from the announced "Thunderbolts" team. As seen on Reddit, many MCU viewers were also hoping for Tim Roth's Abomination, currently enjoying a resurgence thanks to his role on the series "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law." One such fan, u/chesterFIELDinc, speculates that Marvel might be hiding Abomination until "She-Hulk" wraps up.

Marvel's "Thunderbolts" will hit theaters on July 26, 2024.