After a shaky 2023, Marvel Studios finds itself in unfamiliar territory: looking like a vulnerable enterprise instead of an unstoppable entertainment juggernaut. But despite creative overhauls and several release schedule changes for projects in Phases 5 & 6, the MCU machine keeps turning. No previously announced projects have been cancelled (yet), only pushed back to later release dates. And that includes “Thunderbolts,” the ensemble film that arrives after “Captain America: Brave New World” in 2025.
Unlike “Brave New World,” “Thunderbolts” didn’t start shooting before the guild strikes started earlier this year. But despite those production delays, and how popular it is to give Marvel movies grief right now, actor Wyatt Russell still thinks “Thunderbolts” will turn out okay. THR reports that in a sitdown with Josh Horowitz at 92NY yesterday (which will be an upcoming episode of the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast), Russell spoke a little about the upcoming Marvel film and his high hopes for it.
“I have confidence it’s gonna be good,” Wyatt told Horowitz. “I know everybody is sort of on this Marvel train right now of things not going so well.” Russell explained he hasn’t seen a finished script for the film yet (“we have almost started shooting that about 14 times,” the actor quipped), but he knows what director Jake Schreier‘s plans for the film are. And Wyatt promised the New York crowd it’ll be different from what Marvel fans have become accustomed to over the past few years.
“I know Jake so well, and I know how smart Jake is, and how much he cares about making something interesting and different and utilizing everyone’s talents to the best of their ability,” Russell said about the film’s team. “And the story that I think they’ve come up with is really interesting — I know parts of the story and how the story works, I can’t talk about it. But it’s not a straightforward Marvel movie as you’ve seen in the past.”
And given the film’s massive ensemble cast, it shouldn’t be straightforward. “Thunderbolts” sees several characters from the MCU’s Captain America projects team up under the tutelage of Harrison Ford‘s Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (Ford replaces the late John Hurt in the role). Russell’s John Walker/US Agent is part of the troupe, as is Sebastian Stan‘s Bucky Barnes, Florence Pugh‘s Yolena Belova, David Harbour‘s Red Guardian, and more. Ayo Edibiri and Steven Yeun also make their MCU debuts in the pic. So, in that sense, it’s a standalone adventure, an ensemble film in the style of “The Avengers,” and a sequel to “Brave New World.” That’s anything but straightforward, but it also sounds like an all too familiar formula to previous MCU installments.
Still, Russell hopes “Thunderbolts” is part of the tide that helps Marvel Studios right its ship. “I think that it’s gonna be a lot of fun, but I think it will be something that hopefully Marvel fans will look at and go, ‘Oh OK, this is a little different, let’s go hard at it,'” continued Russell. “And as far as how we are approaching it, it’s time to go to work a little bit, it’s time to make a good Marvel movie, so let’s do that and work hard at it, and don’t take things for granted.”
After the various delays this year, “Thunderbolts” is now slated for a July 25, 2025 release. That’s about a year and a half away, so who knows what the cultural reception to Marvel projects will be by then? How “Deadpool 3” fares with critics and audiences next year will foretell a lot, considering it’s Marvel’s only 2024 theatrical release.