SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War below (and if you haven't seen it, get off the Internet and do that NOW!)
Captain America: Civil War wasn’t just a great movie — it upended the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. By the time the credits rolled, friends became enemies, heroes became outlaws, and there were only two Avengers left on the roster. Where does Phase 3 take us from here?
Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross needs a state-controlled super team to combat superpowered threats. He has to use the meta-humans on hand, who are mostly villains. Also, Ross’s old military nickname could become a codename for the new team:
In the comics, the Thunderbolts were a new superhero team that was created when the Avengers were thought to be dead. But, the end of the first issue contained one of comic’s all-time great twists: They were actually villains disguised as heroes, led by Baron Zemo.
After Civil War, Ross just happens to have Baron Zemo in custody. Marvel films have a bad habit of killing off their villains, but thanks to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show, there are plenty of superpowered baddies waiting around with nothing to do. Here’s a potential roster for a Thunderbolts movie:
In Civil War, Baron Zemo is a master manipulator who wants to see the Avengers destroyed from the inside. In one of the great movie twists, he succeeds. Since locked up, he’d jump at any chance to further his agenda.
With all the heavy stuff going down in the MCU in the past eight years, where's the Abomination? He’s stronger than the Hulk, but also possesses the mind of a military tactician. Since the Incredible Hulk (2008) the government has kept him locked up. You'd think Hydra, Ultron, Loki, someone would want to put this guy to work. It would make sense if he was moved to the Raft, since it was built for his kind.
Teased but never seen in the Incredible Hulk, Samuel Sterns is a hyper-intelligent villain mutated by gamma radiation. Again, you'd think this guy would be famous in the MCU by now. If not for villainy, than for going on Jeopardy and never losing.
The only villain to survive the Iron Man movies (I don't think Trevor Slattery's Mandarin counts, do you?) Hammer is played by Sam Rockwell, and would be great comic relief for the team (cause he can’t build armor worth a shit).
This one is long shot, because I think Marvel wants to bring him back for Infinity War. No way did the Red Skull die when the Tesseract teleported him away in the First Avenger. He’s been out in space for 70 years, recruiting for Space Hydra. he'll probably come back completely different, like played by a different actor or something.
A Surviving Yellow Jacket suit?
At the end of Ant-Man, the heroes have presumably destroyed the Yellow Jacket suit and kept the Pym technology out of evil hands. But maybe a suit survived? Cause it would be cool if the bad guy team had a tiny guy to fight Ant-Man.
That pretty much exhausts the living villains Ross could recruit from the films, but if Marvel wanted to unify the movie and television divisions of the MCU, they have lots of enhanced characters to choose from:
Also teased but never seen in Jessica Jones is the ultimate Guns n’ Ammo subscriber and government secret soldier, Nuke. A great role model for teaching kids that drugs are not only cool, they give you superpowers.
One of the more expensive and underused heroes in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Mike Peterson was a regular guy given super strength by Extremis, then trained as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, then went full Six Million Dollar Man with cybernetic enhancements. He’s the deus ex machina of AoS, only showing up when the good guys are in a jam.
The comics' Mr. Hyde, brilliantly portrayed by Kyle MacLachlan in Season 2 of AoS. His experiments gave himself super strength and a temper to rival Bruce Banner’s. He had his brain ”flashy-thinged” at the end of Season 2, but Ross could pull him out of retirement.
One of the standout episodes of AoS’s first season was “The Hub.” That introduced Donnie Gill, a brilliant student who succeeds in giving himself the superpowers of Iceman, Storm and Frost Man (Frost Man isn't a Marvel character, I made him up in 2nd grade). Except for a brief appearance in season two, the character has been left on ice?(TM) Say again: The character has been left — on, ice?(TM)
Marcus Daniels was the stalker of Phil Coulson’s cellist girlfriend (named dropped in the Avengers, remember? Because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will explore anything spoken in an Avengers movie, no mater how obscure). Blackout can control dark matter, which is like sticky space tar that floats around, or something. He appeared to die in Season 1, but comic book villains are harder to kill than Rasputin's syphilis.
By the end of Iron Man 3: Screw You, Fans, Aldrich Killian had gotten pretty good at creating superpowered villains. His experiments were continued by Project Centipede (a Hydra front) in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first episodes; so maybe that work was carried on by someone else?
Elliot Randolph (Asgardian)
Yes, this is Janosz from Ghost Busters 2, but he’s also a several thousand-year-old Asgardian bricklayer He’s bene hiding on earth for centuries, and has all the super strength of your average Asgardian (which is like having the average strength of a WWE Superstar).
Franklin Hall (Graviton)
This villain was teased in AoS Season 1, but never realized. Franklin Hall was a scientist who invented a substance called (oh, God) Gravitonium. (He let his nephews name it, I guess?) By the end of the episode he’s fallen into the middle of the stuff, but his face starts to appear. Apparently the process of forming your body from Gravitoium takes at least three TV seasons though. Graviton can control gravity, right? I'm pretty sure he controls gravity. Though my spell check keeps wanting to change "Graviton" to "Gravy Tron," so he might also control thick sauces you pour on Salisbury steak.
One of the few man roster Marvel villain to be on AoS, Carl “Crusher” Creel is a former boxer who can now absorb the properties of anything he touches. It’s one of the coolest superpowers in comics, and he’s criminally underused on the show, only making three appearances to date.
Introduced very briefly in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Angar underwent a risky experiment two get rid of his throat cancer, and ended up with the ability to stretch his jaw like a snake and scream people to death.
Karla Faye Gideon
Actually, as much as I want to see women on this team, this villain sucks. It’s Drea DeMatteo with long fingernails. I’m sorry I brought this up. Let’s forget this character exists, like I’m sure her agent wants us to.
Literally Any Inhuman
Civil War also made it pretty clear that the Marvel films have no intention of ever acknowledging the TV shows. The film is about registering superpowered people, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has spent that past 20 episodes creating superpowered characters called Inhumans. Yet, nary an Inhuman name drop from Thunderbolt Ross when he talks sells the Avengers on the Sokovia Accords. Still, a Thunderbolts movie could introduce any superpowered characters they want and say: “Oh hey, let them in. They’re Inhumans."
What do you guys think? I don't see Marvel actually using Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. characters in the films any time soon, but would you like to a Thunderbolts movie? Who's on your ideal roster? Let me know in the comments.
- (Also Jim Galicia put out a great article along the lines a year ago, that I didn't find til I was finishing this one up. I highly suggest you read his take, and his other stuff. he's very good.)