With the very recent success of Guardians of the Galaxy, folks may be wondering what’s next for the former Troma director James Gunn to sink his teeth into when it comes to the Marvel moviescape. The answer may surprise you as in a recent interview, Gunn let it slip exactly which Marvel property he may be willing to tackle next. While the Guardians of the Galaxy were a ragtag group of loners combining their powers for good across the spaceways, the other team Gunn is thinking of bringing to the big screen is a ragtag group of loners combining their powers for evil….to a point. Hit the jump for my breakdown of both Gunn’s statement and the team that is the Thunderbolts.
In a recent interview with ScreenRant, Gunn had this to say about tackling another Marvel property outside of Guardians….
Thunderbolts? I will tell you, one time I was saying to Kevin [Feige], we were sitting on set together on one of the days he visited and I said, ‘You know, I really want to make Thunderbolts,’ and he said, ‘James, if Guardians does well you’ll be able to do whatever you want so we’ll see what happens.
Well people, Guardians has done well and has blown past expectations, so a Thunderbolts movie may be coming down the pike. For those who don’t know, the Thunderbolts were originally a group of villains disguised as heroes, attempting to perform the “long con”. Following a Marvel event entitled Onslaught, the Thunderbolts were in fact the Masters of Evil (a team of villains united for the sole purpose of destroying the Avengers) who, in the absence of the Avengers and Fantastic Four due to a series of unfortunate events, attempted to gain the public’s trust in order to eventually take over the world that much easier. Eventually, the team decided to actually try to become heroes themselves, but it wasn’t meant to be for many of them.
Originally spawned from Marvel creators Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, the Thunderbolts were a really fresh concept and the idea was something that hadn’t been done that much before, if ever. What made it all the better was that the book was marketed as a super hero tale from the get-go, with no hint of anything malicious or evil about the team in general. It was only until the final pages of the first issue that the bomb was dropped and Thunderbolts’ members such as Citizen V, Songbird, Mach V, Techno, Meteorite, and Atlas, were in fact the villains known as Baron Zemo, Screaming Mimi, the Beetle, the Fixer, Moonstone, and Goliath respectively. Around 12 issues into the series, the team played their trump card immediately following the Avengers and Fantastic Four’s return, with descent amongst their ranks as many had grown to love their newfound place as heroes in the world. Eventually, the team decided to try playing the hero game and their series lasted over 100 issues before eventually getting the axe for the next interpretation of the team.
The second iteration of Thunderbolts, which is arguably the more popular version, consisted of heavy hitters such as Venom, Green Goblin, Bullseye, and a few layovers from the prior team. This team was brought together under the Green Goblin’s thumb with government backing to hunt down rogue super heroes during the Civil War era of Marvel when simply being a superhero and not registering with the government was a crime. Obviously, having Green Goblin and Venom in there is going to be downright impossible as it stands since both are owned by Sony Pictures under the Spider-Man banner, but we’ll have to see how this develops moving forward.
This team lacked nearly all heroic aspects which had been found in the previous incarnation, and relished in the opportunity to hunt down the heroes that had been thorns in their sides for so long. Of course, what made this so interesting was the fact that, since all of them were villains who were only looking out for themselves, they routinely got their butts handed to them by Z-list Marvel heroes such as Iron Spider and American Eagle to name a few. In one arc, the team was attacked by a group of physics causing a villain fight the likes of which you don’t see often in the funny books, with a particularly chilling scene of the Green Goblin soaring through the halls of “Thunderbolts Mountain” on his goblin glider.
Finally, the most recent iteration of the Thunderbolts takes a big departure from the previous two teams, being a group of heroes who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, killing most of the villains they encounter. This team, put together by General Thunderbolt Ross (now actually the Red Hulk), is populated by Marvel characters such as the Punisher, Deadpool, Elektra, Ghost Rider, and Venom (though a different person wearing the suit this time around). The series is just about to end soon, but perhaps Gunn will play give-and-take with all the iterations of the team and come up with a lineup all his own, similarly to how he did with Guardians of the Galaxy.
I personally wouldn’t mind seeing a Thunderbolts team which carried over some of the villains from previous Marvel Studios films, such as Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer, Tim Roth’s Abomination, and Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash to name a few (even though Abomination and Whiplash apparently died). If we can get a movie with a talking raccoon and tree to make a gigantic splash at the box office, the sky’s the limit.