It seems that Marvel Studios’ next big ensemble project is Thunderbolts. According to Deadline, the studio has found a director for the film, putting it ahead of the previously-announced Fantastic Four. That director is Jake Schreier, who previously directed music videos for Kanye West, Benny Blanco, and Justin Bieber. Jake Schreier’s directorial film debut was 2015’s Paper Towns, and since then he’s been mostly working on the TV side, with episodes of Minx, Dave, and Brand New Cherry Flavor under his belt.
Black Widow screenwriter Eric Pearson is writing the script and Kevin Fiege, as always, is producing. In the MCU, the Thunderbolts will likely be the team that’s been hinted at by the appearances of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. The spymaster has appeared in Black Widow and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, recruiting the new Black Widow and U.S. Agent to her cause. It’s likely that she’ll appear again before the planned film releases.
It does remain to be seen which version of the Thunderbolts appears. The original team was a group of villains posing as heroes in the absence of the Avengers, led by Baron Zemo. Since then, the team has undergone a few versions. These iterations include the original team now acting as fully-reformed villains, a Suicide Squad-style team of villains sent into dangerous situations, and a black-ops team of heroes willing to kill. The most recent version is a wholly-heroic team led by Hawkeye.
The Suicide Squad-style team is the most likely version to use for the film, drawing on past MCU villains to make a new team. To that end, I could see U.S. Agent, Black Widow, Ghost, The Abomination, Baron Zemo, and White Vision all as potential candidates for the team.
Of course, the problem is there’s already a host of villainous or semi-villainous superhero teams in pop culture. The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn, eventually led to the excellent Peacemaker series. Amazon has The Boys, currently in its third season, giving folks a taste of the dark side of superhero already. Can Marvel’s Thunderbolts find a space to differentiate itself, especially since it likely won’t be Rated-R?
Given that Deadline is reporting the film shooting next summer, it sounds like Thunderbolts will be a 2024 or beyond film. Fantastic Four and Deadpool 3 are announced projects without directors, so I’d expect them that year as well. (April 4, 2024 for Fantastic Four! Make it happen, Marvel!)