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Why We Didn't See The Thunderbolts In The Falcon And The Winter Soldier

Contains spoilers for "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier"

"The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" features a wide array of both new and returning MCU characters, including Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), and Isaiah Bradley (Carl Lumbly). The series takes each of those characters on their own respective journeys across its six episodes, and concludes with — among other things — Sam officially becoming the MCU's newest Captain America, Bucky finally freeing himself of his past sins as The Winter Soldier, and Sharon receiving her long-awaited pardon from the U.S. government.

The Disney+ series also — much to the excitement of Marvel fans everywhere — seems to set up the future formation of a team of reformed MCU villains and anti-heroes like the Thunderbolts. The return of Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl), who originally formed the Thunderbolts in the comics, was the first hint in "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" that Marvel could have a Thunderbolts team-up in mind for the MCU. The introduction of Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as a mysterious figure capable of giving John Walker (Wyatt Russell) a new suit and moniker, just added further fuel to the fan theorizing.

As Marvel fans now know, the Thunderbolts did not explicitly emerge in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," but it turns out there's a pretty specific reason why.

There was not enough room for the Thunderbolts in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Marvel executive producer Nate Moore revealed that he and the "Falcon and the Winter Soldier" creative team never considered including the Thunderbolts in the show's first season. "The honest truth is, no," Moore said, before going on to explain that the lack of a Thunderbolts team-up in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" was, for the most part, a purely creative decision.

"We already felt like there was so much on the table in this series," said Moore, "that we didn't also then want to introduce a group of characters, or reintroduce people that we've seen in the past, and cloud the story. The more characters you produce, then you have to service them." The producer further clarified that the Thunderbolts' absence from the series wasn't because the "Falcon and Winter Soldier" team "don't think they're cool because they are."

"We wouldn't have had time to maybe go home with Sam and Bucky to Louisiana, or do some of those things. That, on a character level, got us interested in doing this [show] in the first place," revealed Moore.

Of course, just because the Thunderbolts didn't appear in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" doesn't mean that the team won't ever show up in some form in the MCU. The Disney+ series did introduce (and reintroduce) several characters who could conceivably have a role in the MCU's take on the Thunderbolts. Only time will tell whether or not the possibility of the Thunderbolts forming in the MCU ever actually becomes a reality.