Marvel's 'Thunderbolts': Cast, Release Date and Everything We Know

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Thunderbolts are go!

Disney and Marvel officially confirmed the cast of the new MCU team-up film at the D23 Expo in September, and fans are already eagerly speculating about the upcoming anti-hero squad -- despite the fact that it'll be nearly two more years before we get to see them onscreen together.

Returning to the MCU in the upcoming film are Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian, Wyatt Russell as John Walker/U.S. Agent, Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr/Ghost and Olga Kurylenko as Antonia Dreykov/Taskmaster.

The film, directed by Jake Schreier, will also see Sebastian Stan reprising his longtime role as the Winter Soldier after he and Anthony Mackie most recently starred in their own Disney+ spinoff, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Marvel president Kevin Feige confirmed the Thunderbolts team-up at San Diego Comic-Con in July, as he introduced Marvel's Phase 5 slate of film and streaming projects. The Thunderbolts film will cap off the Phase 5 slate, with a planned release date on July 26, 2024.

Schreier spoke with ET about the film at D23, where he avoided all possible spoilers about the script or plot, offering instead a perfectly cryptic, Marvel-approved answer to what fans can expect from Thunderbolts

"I think you'll see an incredible group of people, who share a certain kind of past trauma, coming together," the director shared, "learning to work together in a way and overcoming some nondescript obstacles we can't speak to."

Here's more of what we know about the upcoming team-up:

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine

julia louis dreyfus mcu
Marvel Studios

Valentina is to the Thunderbolts as Nick Fury is to the Avengers, and fans have already seen Louis-Dreyfus' character recruiting two members of the team in her scenes with Pugh and Russell in Black Widow and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, respectively. (Interestingly enough, in some parts of the comic canon, Valentina and Fury are also an on-again, off-again romantic pairing -- could a Samuel L. Jackson cameo be in the works?) 

So, what does it mean for the Emmy winner to continue carving out her place in the MCU? "It means that my children now really respect what I do for a living," Louis-Dreyfus joked with ET at D23.

Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova

florence pugh yelena belova black widow

Pugh wasn't able to join her castmates at D23, but sent along a video message about how excited she was to play Yelena in the Thunderbolts team-up, after introducing the character in Black Widow and furthering her story in the Hawkeye Disney+ series.

In the Marvel comics canon, Yelena takes up the Black Widow mantle, and following the death of Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff in Avengers: Endgame, there's plenty of speculation that the official title could be in the future for Pugh's character, who seems to have becoming something of an assassin-for-hire in the MCU so far.

David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian

david harbour black widow red guardian
Marvel Studios

In Marvel comics, Red Guardian has a colorful backstory with the Winter Guard, an Avengers-esque team of Russian supers. But Harbour told ET that he couldn't be more excited to bring his bumbling-but-brutal aging super soldier -- the comedic relief of Black Widow -- back to the big screen with the Thunderbolts team.

"It's a unique MCU movie in the sense that you've got a bunch of misfits and outcasts and losers and people that don't really live up to the super in superhero," he shared at D23 Expo. "I think audiences have some complicated feelings about a lot of us, and that's a terrific thing going in."

Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier

falcon and the winter soldier sebastian stan bucky barnes

For Stan, who's now played Bucky Barnes for over a decade, "I was simply told that it's time to go to work," he joked with ET at the D23 Expo. "[Time to] get the arm back."

While he knows by now to keep mum about any specific details, the actor noted that picking back up with his character following the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, "It'll be interesting to see, yeah, 'cause we left them off in a really specific place."

So, what can viewers expect from the Thunderbolts team-up? "Chaos," he teased. "It's probably gonna be a lot of, I don't know, turmoil and people crying."

And of course, even in the absence of Anthony Mackie, the pair's legendary banter continued. When asked if he might also make an appearance in the forthcoming Captain America: New World Order, where Mackie's Sam Wilson officially takes up the cinematic mantle, Stan quipped, "I specifically requested that I would need some time from Anthony, because I need to sort of find my way back to me."

Wyatt Russell as John Walker/U.S. Agent

falcon and winter soldier wyatt russell us agent

Russell joked that any specific character details about Thunderbolts are "above my pay grade," but demurred when asked if he'd like to see a redemption arc for his character, who got a recruiting visit from Valentina using his shield to publicly beat an adversary to death.

"Maybe," he couched. "But then, you know, you like playing guys who have problems. It's kind of more fun... Ideal is, keep the problems, solve a few, but then you still got skeletons in the closet to bring them back."

Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr/Ghost

hannah john kamen ghost
hannah john kamen ghost

John-Kamen told ET that she felt "relieved" to get the call to reprise her Ant-Man and the Wasp character, getting to dive deeper into the misunderstood antagonist, who was revealed at the end of that movie to be a molecularly unstable woman just trying to survive.

"I was like, 'Great, I can come back and figure out more about Ava and Ghost," the actress told ET. "Kind of [explore] how she's going to work in a team... I was relieved to get to tell the story more."

Olga Kurylenko as Antonia Dreykov/Taskmaster

olga kurylenko black widow taskmaster
Marvel Studios

The Black Widow actress was also absent from the cast's D23 appearance, but there's plenty of comic canon to mine for theories about how her character could fit into the team-up. Taskmaster's ability to mimic fighting styles has made the character a well-known adversary of Captain America, Ant-Man and Spider-Man in the comics, and has worked with everyone from Wilson Fisk to Kraven the Hunter, opening the door to plenty of possible future storylines.

Thunderbolts is set to hit theaters on July 26, 2024.


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