EDITORIAL: A THUNDERBOLTS Film, How Would It Work?

EDITORIAL: A THUNDERBOLTS Film, How Would It Work?

James Gunn recently expressed his desire to make a Thunderbolts movie. With the success of his first Marvel movie outing, should we consider it a possibility? If so, here are my thoughts on the film and how it could work...

For those that aren't too in the know with the Thunderbolts or anything, they're a team formed by Baron Zemo (Helmut) and essentially, they're a group of "reformed" villains. I'm no expert on them, I've only read a few Thunderbolts books but what I have read was pretty damned awesome and secured them in my favourites list. I would most certainly greet a movie about the team with open arms and if it's being directed by James Gunn, all the better methinks. Originally I thought I'd rather see the Thunderbolts adapted to the small screen. I now realise that wouldn't be the best of ideas because despite how under-powered the team is, there are too many people with super-powers (Songbird, Atlas, Beetle MACH I, Moonstone) for a TV budget to cover the level of special effects needed. You've got two or three flyers on the team, someone who can scream the Olympic Opening Ceremony into silence and a dude who can alter his size at will. I don't know just how big a TV budget can get, but could it cover the cost of showing that sort of stuff every episode without it not being crammed in for a few minutes at the end? Anyway, a film would be much more suitable and here's what would make it good in my eyes.

Sadly, the MCU has had a bad tendency of killing off its villains. Luckily though, there are a few fish that slipped the net! Crossbones being the main one of course. But then there's the likes of Blizzard from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Abomination from The Incredible Hulk. In my mind, those three would make good additions to the team because they're familiar faces to most people. In terms of expanding the roster, I don't think you could call it the Thunderbolts without Songbird, Beetle MACH I and Moonstone. So, that would be the team. Crossbones, Blizzard, Abomination, Songbird, Beetle MACH I and Moonstone. The thing to do there is to have three villains who aren't really glad to be there (Crossbones, Abomination and Moonstone) and have the other three act as regulators for the team (Songbird, Beetle MACH I and Blizzard). This would create an interesting team dynamic as it presents plenty of ground for in-house conflict amongst the members.

Also, the three reluctant party members would act as background villains. The main villain could be any second-rate guy, maybe they're going after HYDRA and acting as the clean-up crew now that the whole ordeal is done with. Perhaps even have Strucker and Madame Hydra as main villains, it'd certainly be interesting. Eventually though, the team will have to split, otherwise there'd be no big climax for the movie. This would happen during the final fight and it would essentially see Abomination, Crossbones and Moonstone go against orders and beat the crap out of Blizzard, Songbird and Beetle MACH I. If there were to be a sequel, I think it would be best for Deathlok to join the team along with the other Black Widow, but under a different codename.

If you go back through the Thunderbolts roster, there's always a balance between the do-gooders and the wrong-doers. It might even make more sense to wait until all those Netflix series have been released because what would be better than seeing a team with Bullseye on it being the prick that he is? I think the best way you could possibly approach a film like this would be in an almost Usual Suspects style of getting the team together. They're all in prison for something and then they get released by S.H.I.E.L.D. to do some community service. What could be better than that? Bullseye being a prick, that's what! All in all, I think a Thunderbolts movie could definitely work and it'd be a unique opportunity to develop some villains rather than wasting them in a movie. 

So, what do you guys think? Would you like to see a Thunderbolts movie anytime soon? If so, how would you want to see it handled? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the usual place!

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NovaCorpsFan
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Filed Under "Comics" 8/20/2014
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40 Comments
Doopie - 8/20/2014, 4:55 AM
Nice ideas. I'm only really familiar with the current/latest line up of Red Hulk and Venom etc - but I thought that was a good book.

Don't think it's likely that marvel will make a film (or TV show) out of them but perhaps it could work as a one-shot that linked a couple of other things up?
CherryBomb - 8/20/2014, 6:07 AM
I'd love to see a Thunderbolts movie!
Maybe if they announce Ms Marvel soon we could have Moonstone as the villain.
CorndogBurglar - 8/20/2014, 6:17 AM
As long as they dont go the all heroes route like the latest incarnation.

Even though those guys are all anti-heroes it isn't the same. Thunderbolts has always been mostly villains and horrible people. Its part of its charm. It totally lost me when they made a team of all good guys. Marvel lost sight of what the Thinderbolts truly are when they did that.
NovaCorpsFan - 8/20/2014, 6:24 AM
@CorndogBurglar
Sadly, I agree. I think they just went "OH! We'll have Red Hulk lead a team of anti-heroes!"
"Yeah, that sounds good, what should we call them?"
"Let's just call them the Thunderbolts, it makes sense 'cause he's Thunderbolt Ross!"
"HOLY SHIT, THAT'S GENIUS!"

No... No it's not. I hate how they're all wearing red as well. Sometimes colour is nice.
MightyZeus - 8/20/2014, 6:35 AM
I;ve only read Norman Osborne's Thunderbolt's when he was in charge. I actually enjoyed the line up of character's. If Thunderbolts is not suited for the big screen then i think it can work on the small screen.

Good work by the way.
WYLEEJAY - 8/20/2014, 6:42 AM
Citizen V!!!
NitPicker - 8/20/2014, 7:25 AM
The Thunderbolts came out when the comic book industry was at a low point (late '90s). I'm a pretty big Thunderbolts fan and I think the original Thunderbolts stories were the best stories published by Marvel during the late 1990s - early 2000s. Not too many people know about the original Thunderbolts, so I'll try my best to explain what they are about.

There are going to be SPOILERS for the comics and possible future movies in this post, so if you don't want to be SPOILED, don't read any further.

SPOILERS

After watching The Avengers and The Fantastic Four sacrifice themselves in a battle against Onslaught, the citizens of the Marvel Universe began to worry about their safety. They began to wonder who would save them next time Galactus tries to eat the Earth. The X-Men, Spider-man and The Hulk were still around, but the citizens of the Marvel Universe don't feel safe around them. They needed a new team of heroes who could put their minds at ease so they could sleep soundly at night.

Then suddenly a new team of heroes emerged. In their first mission, they stopped a Hulk rampage. In their second mission, they subdued a terrorist attack. In their third, they went up against The Wrecking Crew. Finally, the citizens of the Marvel Universe felt safe knowing that The Thunderbolts would protect them.

But on the last page of the 1st issue of The Thunderbolts, it was revealed to comic book readers that the team is actually the super villain group The Masters of Evil. The Masters of Evil saw the public's need for heroes as an opportunity to earn their trust so they could gain access to information and weapons which would be sold to other villians. So they start pretending to be super heroes.

Each character in the story has a purpose for being there. I don't think the story would work as well if any of them were replace by another character. Also there weren't any characters added just to fill the roster, so I don't think any of them should be removed either.

The members of the original team are:

Citizen V (Baron Zemo) - The leader of the group and mastermind behind the scheme. He keeps the other members focused on the plan.

Mach-1 (The Beetle) - A small time criminal who would usually get his ass kicked by Spider-Man and Daredevil.

Songbird (Screaming Mimi) - An even smaller time criminal who would constantly get arrested during bank robberies.

Atlas (Goliath) - The big dumb muscle of the group. Not a small time criminal, but not exactly a big time criminal either. He is extremely loyal to Zemo.

Techno (The Fixer) - A former Hydra engineer. He makes robots and weapons. He's the guy who Zemo trusts the most.

Meteorite (Moonstone) - Second in command. Physically the strongest member of the group. She has a degree in psychology and she her knowledge to manipulate the other members of the team.

There's a lot of cool stuff going on with these characters and I really wouldn't want to see any of them replaced. For instance, there are a few times where the scam is almost ruined. In one scene, the cops are having a stand off with some bank robbers. Mach-1 shows up, kicks the criminals' asses and tells the cops that he will return the money to the bank. Instead of returning the money, he keeps it and returns to Thunderbolts headquarters to brag about it. Zemo hears about this and has to straighten him out. Zemo reminds Mach-1 that they are pretending to be heroes. By keeping the money, Mach-1 is putting the whole plan at risk. You see, Mach-1 is such a small time criminal that he doesn't even comprehend what Zemo has planned. Zemo is going to make them millionaires, and Mach-1 puts it all in jeopardy for a couple of thousands.

Another thing I like about the series is how Zemo's plan effects the characters. In the beginning, they are all true super villains down with Zemo's plan and they feel kind of uncomfortable standing in front of news cameras pretending to be heroes. But as time goes on, some of them begin to like being heroes. I think the whole ordeal has the most effect on Songbird because she was constantly failing at being a villain, but when she was pretending to be a hero, people looked up to her and were cheering for her and it made her feel good. She didn't want to pretend to be a hero anymore. She wanted to be an actual hero.

There's also all the stuff with Moonstone trying to turn everybody against Zemo and the stuff with Jolt which I would get into, but this post is long enough already.
NitPicker - 8/20/2014, 7:35 AM
Another thing I like about the series is that in the beginning they were kinda like bullies. They would be so eager to go up against a foe that they could easily beat, but when they had to go up against someone like The Wrecking Crew, they would be like "I didn't sign up for this" and Zemo would be like "Yes you did!! Now get your ass back here and stick to the plan!!".
Abary - 8/20/2014, 7:50 AM
People will say "they're too much like Sinister Six!" because people are stupid. I'd like to see Marvel's take on the Thunderbolts though. With Dr Strange (magic), Ant-Man (heist), GOTG/Inhumans (cosmic), and Black Panther (Africa), they're really trying to be diverse with their lineup, so this would only be another step forward.
NitPicker - 8/20/2014, 7:51 AM
If they were to make a Thunderbolts movie I think they could just take what was done in the early comics and make the movie about that. In the first movie, everything should appear to be legit with them. They could fight off some terrorists and do some interviews to get the peoples' trust. Each of them could come up with a fake origin to tell news crews and you could actually see the fake origins being played out in the movie. Later in the movie they could fight a powerful enemy and you could see some of them getting nervous and not really wanting to participate in the fight. Then near the end of the movie, the plan is revealed to the audience.

But The Avengers can't be around. Maybe they get sent to the future by Kang and everybody thinks they were killed.
NitPicker - 8/20/2014, 8:30 AM
And there's also stuff with The Black Widow being suspicious of them. She finds it weird that not just one, not just two, but six new heroes that she had never heard of pop up out of nowhere. So she spys on them which is what spies do. Then she confronts them and asks them a hundred questions. She asks where they came from. She asks why the didn't help in the battle against Onslaught. She asks how they got their powers. She asks why they never showed up when Galactus came to town. And they give the answers that they have prepared for those types of questions. And she keeps asking questions like a lawyer trying to make them crack or waiting to see if they give a different answer than they gave before. So much good stuff.
cipher - 8/20/2014, 10:06 AM
I loved Ellis' Thunderbolts stuff.

Thumbs up, dude. Keep up the good work.
JFerguson - 8/20/2014, 10:13 AM
not really sure if I'd rather have a Thunderbolts movie or a Runaways movie more. But nice work on the editorial. really feeling for a Thunderbolts movie now. Really hoping that they use crossbone, baron zemo, abomination, and maybe Ghost, even though he's not been introduced in the MCU yet. Also, I think that Sony owns the rights to the Beetle, since he's mostly been a Spiderman villain(?).
RetroFit - 8/20/2014, 10:21 AM
Short answer: Nope.
Bread - 8/20/2014, 10:25 AM
It would be really cool to see as a Netflix movie or something. But Marvel would be kinda late to the game with this sort of thing, since we're already seeing Suicide Squad and Sinister Six.
ThePowerCosmic - 8/20/2014, 10:33 AM
Nova

Great thought out article! You are my favorite contributor to read on this site. Keep up the good stuff my cosmic friend!

I think the current Thunderbolts series is pretty awesome!
NovaCorpsFan - 8/20/2014, 10:38 AM
@RetroFit
The term "nope" doesn't actually work as an answer to the question, "How would it work?".
Gusto - 8/20/2014, 10:53 AM
Good job!
Double Miley!



ChowdaHead - 8/20/2014, 11:21 AM
God i sure hope not, it was hard enough sitting through Gotg. Let someone who loves the characters direct, someone with a real vision.
Jtneagle - 8/20/2014, 11:33 AM
Well I want to see Taskmaster
CPBuff22 - 8/20/2014, 11:44 AM
I would do a Thunderbolts movie but do something a bit unconventional with it. I would take Marvel Characters that have already seen film time but never under the Marvel banner and team them together with some new to film characters.

How about a Thunderbolt team of Punisher, Blade, Ghost Rider, Taskmaster, & Songbird lead by War Machine?

You get three new to cinema characters, two characters that had their own movies under other studios, & one character reprising a role from two past Marvel Studio films. I really like that formula.

That being said I would prefer a MI-13 movie. Because that would introduce the British superhero team and could resurrect Blade in the MCU. It would also be nice to see a team from someplace new. We have the New York based Avengers, the Space based Guardians of the Galaxy, so why not the UK team of MI-13 as the next team Marvel brings to theaters?
blkchi - 8/20/2014, 12:28 PM
man keep with the source material how could punisher blade and ghostrider be the thunderbolts their already in the sons of midnight..also why would the panther need to share screentime hes marketable to a whole continent..lastly sorry the netflix series alot suck why the hell is agent carter getting a series..im all for black superheros but luke cage and iron fist boring daredevil why does he keep getting second chances boring...give thunderbolts, ms marvel, the panther , hell even powerpack and the runaways would be more maretable than these netflix series fergie is reminding me of jim lee ..on a power trip
GammerDad - 8/20/2014, 12:36 PM
I recommend you read a lot more of the books, there are some good characters there but wow the heavy lifting to get them to fit into the MCU.

Avengers can barely get one female lead in the MCU & your asking for a lot more than that. Plus no access to Juggernaut, who had one of the few enjoyable story lines. Mach 5 is another Iron Man, been there done that.

Marvel seems set on exploring new ground, GOTG was the space epic, Avengers is your core "super hero" and Ant-man will explore the science of MCU. All that is left is the super natural. We know that Dr. Strange is coming but MCU can quickly expand that super natural world If we can pick & chose who the team is.

I think you go after Man-thing, Ghost, Satana, Mister Hyde, Mercy, Moonstone & Luke Cage for the win. Tie them all back as a SHIELD "work for release" concept still true to the Thunerbolts core idea. Normally I wouldn't even propose such a thing but given the success with GOTG and making those characters work on the big screen just think of the story you could tell.

Maybe Dr. Strange is captured by Daimon Hellstrom who is in league with Baron Zemo? A rescue mission, interwoven with sub-plot supporting the Reality Gem, maybe they want to remake a new Hell or something?

I know it would be too dark & twisted for MCU, but maybe? There is a lot of raw material within the Thunderbolts, it is just a matter of how hard & how dark they (MCU) is willing to go.
Darkknight2149 - 8/20/2014, 12:52 PM
I initially wanted the film to focus on the anti-hero team, but after the announcement of The Defenders on Netflix, I've changed my mind.
13echo - 8/20/2014, 12:57 PM
Justice like lightnings.
LRascal - 8/20/2014, 1:02 PM
A bunch of T-bolts ideas by people with little to no knowledge of the original concept. I thought we hated movies like that. No?
GliderMan - 8/20/2014, 2:03 PM
I don't see how it would fit.
SnapperCarr - 8/20/2014, 2:24 PM
Thunderbolts can work, but it's a matter of time. After Cap 3/Avengers 3 would probably be the best time to have a movie based on them. You could have the Avengers leave Earth to fight Thanos, and the Thunderbolts are put together to fill that void. As for the line-up, I want to see:

-Crossbones
-Ghost
-Abomination
-Moonstone
-Blizzard (from Agents of Shield)
-Whoever (This spot could go to anybody like Man Thing or Jolt or Deathlok or Songbird)
Frevoli - 8/20/2014, 3:09 PM
I suppose it's kind of like an X Force movie. With the property going through so many development stages, a film would need to encapsulate them all. So there's something for fans of any Thunderbolts era - original, Obsorn's, the current. (although altered, given the off use characters- Osborn, Venom and Beetle being with sony, etc.)

Here's what I imagine.

Official government opinion on heroes is low. Between Shield falling and Tony Stark creating an army of evil robots (speculating on Avengers 2). Plus we've the destructive power they possess, a government sanctioned team would be an asset. The hulk program percussing this, they turn to Thunderbolt Ross - still kinda wallowing after his white whale was put out of his reach - so they charge him putting some of their prisoners into a team:
Abomination
Crossbones
Bullseye (given he's already appeared in the Daredevil show, naturally)
Moonstone
Songbird
*maybe someone from Antman, if they make it out
ScottMontgomery - 8/20/2014, 4:50 PM
He also wanted to make a Hit Monkey movie, I'd rather see that then Thunderbolts...
MileHighRonin - 8/20/2014, 5:37 PM
The later incarnations have been reformed, or faking being reformed, villians. Zemo actually created them after the Onslaught Saga, all the heroes were believed to be dead. Zemo and his team posed as heroes, he choose Citizen V, thinking it ironic that he killed the original Citizen V. The public, governments, S.H.E.I.L.D even thinks they are legit. No one knows they are villians posing as heroes, Zemo saw this as a way to gain S.H.E.I.L.D. secrets.

I would really love to see this film, however I think we need to introduce Baron Zemo first. Songbird and Moonstone are by far the best of the group, and would be a must. Honestly the later teams are much better, but Marvel does not own a lot of those charachters. Venom, Green Goblin, Deathstrike. It would be great though to use Penence, but the Civil War must be done for that in my opinion.

Also this would be a great way to use Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Place them as a part of the Thunderbolts roster. Them along with Songbird, Moonstone, and Citizen V. With the team being lead by Hawkeye, Winter Soldier, and War Machine, team being created by the new S.H.E.I.L.D. If they introduce Baren Zemo soon, than this would so work. Have it believed that Zemo died in battle against Cap. But it turns out he is really Citizen V and has been secretly getting info on this new S.H.E.I.L.D. Its up to Hawkeye, Bucky, Rhodey, Coulson, Mockingbird to stop them. If we ever get a Hulk sequel, and they include Ross becoming the Red Hulk, then he can become a member as well.

Yes to Thunderbolts, after we get Baron Zemo in a Cap film.
MileHighRonin - 8/20/2014, 5:40 PM
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch would also help take the sleeper agents down.
JoJo1982 - 8/20/2014, 7:04 PM
I would love to see a thunderbolts movie
But I think A few more characters from the team need to be other movies before starring in a thunderbolts movie.
Also I think ppl are waiting to see how sinister six do
NitPicker - 8/20/2014, 7:08 PM
@GammerDad

There would be a lot of heavy lifting required to get The Thunderbolts started, but I think the payoff would be worth it. Look at all the heavy lifting they had to do for The Avengers and look at how great everything turned out.

Yeah, Mach-1 is another Iron Man, but that's what he was supposed to be. Citizen V is another Captain America. Atlas is another Giant Man. Meteorite is another Ms. Marvel. They were trying to get people to trust them, so they chose false identities that were similar to The Avengers.
beane2099 - 8/20/2014, 7:10 PM
Busiek's and Ellis' runs are my favorite iterations of Thunderbolts. Busiek's original story spun right out of the Onslaught saga. All of the heroes were gone and mutants were to blame. It allowed for a new group of heroes to swoop in and fill in that gap. Marvel straight up billed this as a new group of heroes and then you got to the reveal on those last couple pages - Mind blowing (at the time). You couldn't have a moment like that today because editorial would reveal it in USA today the week before the issue came out.

As for a movie, I'd be down. But I would prefer a variation of Busiek's original story (obviously that would require serious modification). I don't want a variation of DC's Suicide Squad with Fury, Coulson or Hill being a wannabe Amanda Waller. That just doesn't work for me.
bropous - 8/20/2014, 7:56 PM
GREAT article.

But the premise, neh.
NitPicker - 8/20/2014, 8:13 PM
@GammerDad

Also, the core of The Thunderbolts isn't "work for release". The core of The Thunderbolts is redemption. Songbird and Moonstone are like the main characters of the series. These characters a used to tell a story about redemption. Songbird starts out as a villain who has a change of heart over the course of the series while pretending to be a hero. She starts to become a real hero and convinces some of the others to be real heroes too. Moonstone just doesn't give a [frick]. She starts out as a villain and continues to be a villain, doing what she always does which is manipulate people.

This carries through to Warren Ellis' run where they were supposed to be a "work for release" team. In this run, Moonstone is in charge of a group of hardcore super villains who are given the task of apprehending "outlaw" super heroes. Moonstone is pleased with this because she has power and control over people. Songbird is upset because she spent a lot of time building up a good reputation for herself and the team, but now she has bunch of crazy psychopaths that she's forced to work with.

In Ellis' run, you see Moonstone going crazy and abusing her power by encouraging the other members of the team to be unnecessarily brutal to the heroes they are apprehending. She allowed Venom to eat the arm of one of their bounties, and she allowed Bullseye to paralyze one of their bounties by stabbing him in the spine. Songbird tries to tell Moonstone that they should just get their job done without any unnecessary roughness. Moonstone says "[frick] you, I'm in charge". After realizing that Moonstone cannot be reasoned with, Songbird just starts sabotaging their missions. During one of the missions, she helped the bounty escape. During another she literally stabbed Bullseye in the back.

Warren Ellis' run is very good. His run is built off of what was done earlier in the series. I don't think the story is as effective if you take the redemption factor away.
Joementum - 8/21/2014, 4:49 AM
My scenario tries to stay close to the original premise and team.

Instead of the heroes missing during Onslaught, most have resigned or been jailed during the Civil War(A5 2021?).

FF, Spidey, or X-Fox will likely return some rights to Marvel by 2020. Such an infusion of characters must be dealt with and Registration will become mandatory.

In the aftermath of Avengers 5: Civil War, the hero landscape is almost unrecognizable and the people are upset. Thunderbolts will be presented to the public as the Government Approved heroes.

Norman Osborn as Iron Patriot....oh yes.
captquirk - 8/21/2014, 8:23 AM
Dammit... I should probably read things more thoroughly. I thought this was about the Thundercats. That could be an awesome live action flick, except for Snarrf.
LewisLightning - 8/21/2014, 5:08 PM
I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking about the potential for a Thunderbolts film, although your version is a bit different from what I had in mind. This is also a topic I was planning on doing, so I hope you'll check out my thoughts when I get around to writing it up.

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