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As Marvel preps for its Phase Three slate of films next year, the Netflix side of their universe is slowly coming together. Jessica Jones will air towards the end of the year, Daredevil Season 2 will be released in 2016, and fans can also look forward to Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the Defenders miniseries. Now there’s a new rumor saying that Marvel may move away from superheroes for their next Netflix project and focus on a team of less-than-stellar individuals with abilities, the Thunderbolts.
A YouTube account called The Hashtag Show reports that Marvel is developing a Thunderbolts TV series for Netflix. No other details were provided, including where it would fit on Marvel’s current release schedule for the online platform. Keep in mind that this not official, and Netflix didn’t mention anything about a Thunderbolts show at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour. But The Hashtag Show has been right about things in the past, so it's entirely possible.
The Thunderbolts first appeared in 1997 as a team of supervillains, led by Baron Zemo, pretending to be superheroes to gain the world’s trust, though eventually many of the members truly did want to see redemption through heroic acts. Subsequent iterations of the team evolved in the last decade so that they consisted of reformed super villains who go on dangerous missions for the U.S. government, similar to DC Comics’ Suicide Squad. During the Dark Reign arc, Norman Osborn (who most of you might be more familiar with as the Green Goblin) used the Thunderbolts as his personal assassins, but in more recent years the team has been used for more benevolent purposes. The latest version of the team was a black ops group under the command of General Thaddeus Ross, and two of its members, The Punisher and Elektra, are appearing in Daredevil Season 2. Crossover potential, check.
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn previously expressed interest in helming a Thunderbolts movie, but considering how cemented Marvel’s film slate schedule is, that’s unlikely to happen in the near future. Although Marvel has its fair share of darker characters (just watch Daredevil Season 1 for proof), so far none of their live action MCU projects have featured anti-heroes or villains as the protagonists. Should this Thunderbolts rumor turn out to be true, it would be an interesting opportunity for Marvel to spotlight a group of characters who aren’t superheroes automatically willing to do good.
Several upcoming comic book projects, like Suicide Squad and Deadpool, revolve around anti-heroes who don’t have the same moral code as your standard superheroes. A Thunderbolts Netflix series would be one of Marvel’s best ways to put their own ne’er-do-wells in the spotlight, especially considering that Netflix has been the venue for the company to tell darker stories. That said, we’ll have to wait and see whether this report is legitimate or not.