BySean Erickson, writer at
Exploring the area between movie geek and film nerd.
Sean Erickson

When Captain America: Civil War made its last round of casting announcements, the inclusion and return of William Hurt's Gen. Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross didn't make as many headlines as some of the other characters like the confirmation of Scarlet Witch's return or the addition of Martin Freeman to the cast. But General Ross may be the character that raises the most questions about Captain America: Civil War and where things are heading for Avengers: Infinity War.

The Return of General Thaddeus Ross

As unexpected as it is to see a character from The Incredible Hulk, a movie that has largely been considered the red headed stepchild of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it makes sense that it would be General Ross, the character last seen drowning his sorrows when Tony Stark cozies up to him at the bar to talk to him about The Avengers Initiative. Given this stinger at the end of The Incredible Hulk you wonder if perhaps this character of Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross was intended to have a bigger role in the MCU - but now that Captain America 3 is putting the whole idea of The Avengers Initiative into jeopardy it is the perfect time to bring back the MCU's military presence.

William Hurt as Gen. Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross.
William Hurt as Gen. Thaddeus Thunderbolt Ross.

But there could be more reasons for this return than just having General Ross show up in Captain America: Civil War as another dissenting political voice calling for the Superhuman Registration Act. After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, there are more than a few questions about the future of Bruce Banner and the Hulk lingering in the heads of fans after the big green guy went back into hiding. And Gen. Thaddeus Ross could definitely hold some answers to these questions about what kind of scenario could see Hulk reemerging from his island getaway.

Thunderbolts Assemble!

That fact that there's a Marvel team called The Thunderbolts and General Ross' nickname is Thunderbolt is mostly one of those comic book coincidences that occurs when you have a mythology that goes back as long as Marvel's does. But the MCU might find Captain America: Civil War to be the perfect time to turn this coincidence into serendipity. The Thunderbolts are a team with a long history of crossing the line between being good guys or bad guys - but they played an interesting role in the Civil War storyline acting on behalf of the Pro-Registration side.

Gen. Ross heads up Marvel's The Thunderbolts.
Gen. Ross heads up Marvel's The Thunderbolts.

If Marvel wants to create a military and Gen. Thaddeus Ross sanctioned, Pro-Registration team of superheroes to be looked at as a viable option to replace The Avengers, The Thunderbolts would be a perfect way to go. Not only does this group play a part in the Civil War storyline, they also have deep connections to none other than Baron Zemo. Given the many changes of The Thunderbolts lineup and its intentions over the years - it would be insanely cool to see General Ross put together The Thunderbolts and have Baron Zemo turn them against him.

The Rise of the Red Hulk

On the top of the speculation list is the possibility of seeing General Thaddeus Ross fulfil his destiny and become the Red Hulk. This has always been one of the best choices for what could be in store for the immediate future of Bruce Banner's Hulk. This storyline would make for a great stand-alone Hulk movie. Red Hulk is one of the great foes for Bruce Banner and in the aftermath of World War Hulk, this is the guy that brings Bruce Banner's Hulk back into action. This could easily be the case for the MCU version of events as well and a reason Banner would come out of his self-imposed exile.

It's one of those classic bits of Marvel irony that as the Captain Ahab to Hulk's Moby Dick, Gen Thaddeus Ross would end up infecting himself and turning himself into a Hulk in an attempt to become a super soldier. General Ross is full of potential for the future of the MCU and we'll have to see how big a part he'll play in the events of Captain America: Civil War. There's no doubt that the government and the military will be getting involved in the business of the Avengers and this guy could be right at the forefront of what's in store leading up to Avengers: Infinity War.

What do you think? How big of a role do you think General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross will have in [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409)? Do you envision Red Hulk emerging or the MCU version of The Thunderbolts? Take to the comments section and keep the conversation going!


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