Marvel Studios didn’t consider including the Thunderbolts in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The Disney+ series primarily focused on continuing the stories of Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes as the former became Captain America. This moment set up a big part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s future, but The Falcon and The Winter Soldier did the same with John Walker becoming U.S. Agent and teasing Sharon Carter’s plans as Power Broker.
Prior to the show’s release, many fans thought this could be where the MCU sets up the Thunderbolts for the future. This was driven by the return of Baron Zemo in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The Captain America: Civil War villain has long been expected to be part of the MCU’s eventual Thunderbolts roster and speculation ran rampant that he could start forming the team of reformed villains in the show. This led some to be mildly disappointed when The Falcon and The Winter Soldier ended without any blatant setup for the team. However, this was never part of Marvel’s plans it appears.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier executive producer, Nate Moore, was asked if the Thunderbolts were ever considered to appear in the series during an interview with EW. He told the outlet “the honest truth is, no.” The reason for the Thunderbolts not being part of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier came down to the difficulty of adding even more characters to the six-episode series. Read Moore’s full quote below:
Not because we don’t think they’re cool because they are, but because we already felt like there was so much on the table in this series that we didn’t also then want to introduce a group of characters, or reintroduce people that we’ve seen in the past, and cloud the story. The more characters you produce, then you have to service them,” he adds. “And then we wouldn’t have had time to maybe go home with Sam and Bucky to Louisiana, or do some of those things. That, on a character level, got us interested in doing this [show] in the first place.
Moore’s explanation for not including the Thunderbolts in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier makes sense. The series already had enough characters to focus on, so including another four or five major characters would’ve been too much. Some characters and storylines already got the short end of the stick with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier‘s ending. The introduction of a new superteam could’ve felt rushed if it was included or forced other storylines to receive even less attention.
The Thunderbolts might not be fully formed by the end of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but the show still could wind up laying the groundwork for their formation. Baron Zemo is now locked away in The Raft, presumably with other Marvel supervillains. This could bring him to make some new allies that he could team up with. Meanwhile, the series established Zemo’s incredible wealth, which might allow him to be the one who funds the Thunderbolts. There’s also the possibility that Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is starting to form the team with U.S. Agent, especially since she refers to Zemo as a friend.
For now, it is still a mystery when the Thunderbolts will join the MCU. After not appearing in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Marvel Studios could slow play their formation by introducing other members throughout Phase 4. It’s also possible they are already working on a Thunderbolts movie or Disney+ show that will tell the origin of the team. Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before the Thunderbolts are part of the MCU.