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Huge MCU Theory Reveals Secret Invasion Sets Up The Thunderbolts

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  • Posted on 09th Aug, 2022 08:29 AM
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In Marvel Comics, the Skrull Empire's Secret Invasion was a deep influence in the evolution of the iconic antihero team known as the Thunderbolts.

style="text-align: center;">Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Marvel Secret Invasion comic storyline.

The upcoming Marvel series Secret Invasion and the movie Thunderboltsrespectively the second and last entries in the MCU Phase 5 slate, are deeply connected in a way that only long-time Marvel readers know about. Though every Marvel reveal from Comic-Con 2022 points to a highly-anticipated movie or series, Secret Invasion and Thunderbolts are potentially the most important MCU Phase 5 projects because of these connections. Indeed, whoever is revealed to be a Skrull in the Secret Invasion cast, it will have huge implications on Thunderbolts and MCU Phase 6.

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Marvel Comics' "Secret Invasion" - an event that involves almost the entire Marvel universe - is one of the most popular and revered story arcs in the history of superhero comic books. It also serves an important role in the history of the Thunderbolts, Marvel Comics' original team of antiheroes. The events in "Secret Invasion" are crucial not just to the evolution of the Thunderbolts, but also to how Marvel Comics developed other notable antihero super teams such as the Cabal/Dark Illuminati, Norman Osborn's HAMMER, and the Dark Avengers.

Related: Screen Rant’s Comic-Con 2022 Guide

Secret Invasion, the MCU's first crossover event, could potentially fix MCU Phase 4's lack of connected stories by taking a deeper dive into the source material. This is especially true since MCU Phase 4 introduced several new characters with connections to "Secret Invasion" and the Thunderbolts team, including but not limited to Contessa Valentina de Fontaine aka Val, Wilson Fisk, and Norman Osborn. Though Val isn't directly involved in Marvel Comics' Thunderbolts, Valentina de Fontaine's "Secret Invasion" history could provide the perfect twist for Val to lead Thunderbolts in MCU Phase 5. Here's how the Secret Invasion cast and plot can set up the best possible MCU adaptation of the Thunderbolts.

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How Secret Invasion Changed The Thunderbolts In Marvel Comics

The way "Secret Invasion" led to the Thunderbolts' darkest iterations could be the key to the overarching narrative of the MCU Phase 5 slate. During the end of the "Secret Invasion" event, Thunderbolts leader Norman Osborn deals the final blow to the Skrull Queen Veranke, a public act that turns Osborn into a war hero. The U.S. government then gives Osborn control over SHIELD, the Thunderbolts Initiative, and the Fifty State Initiative. Osborn dissolves all these organizations to form HAMMER, his own version of SHIELD.

This is also when Osborn founds his Cabal - also known as the Dark Illuminati - alongside Doctor Victor Von Doom, Namor, Emma Frost, Loki, and the Hood. Unlike his predecessors Tony Stark and Nick Fury, Osborn convinces the public and the U.S. government that he finally has these infamously unruly supers under control. In reality, HAMMER and Osborn's Mighty Avengers, also known as the Dark Avengers, are operating according to the whims of the Dark Illuminati, while the Thunderbolts become their black ops team. Norman Osborn's Thunderbolts history could mean that Spider-Man: No Way Home was just the beginning of the MCU's plans for Osborn. Despite MCU Phase 4's faults, it did introduce potentially the greatest MCU villain in Willem Defoe's definitive version of the Green Goblin. That said, with Osborn being returned to his home universe in the Spider-Man: No Way Home ending, there is a simpler way for the MCU to do justice to the Thunderbolts' "Secret Invasion" arc.

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How Secret Invasion Can Set Up The MCU's Thunderbolts Movie

Secret Invasion and Thunderbolts already have the perfect replacement for Norman Osborn in Contessa Valentina de Fontaine, aka Val. Notably, most of Val's screen time has been devoted to recruiting antiheroes like Yelena Belova and John Walker for a mysterious team. This team is highly likely to be the Thunderbolts, and the MCU can justify Val leading the team by adapting parts of both Val and Nick Fury's roles in "Secret Invasion."

Related: Black Widow: Who Valentina Works For - Every Theory

In the comics, Val is revealed to be a Skrull spy sent to seduce Fury and steal SHIELD secrets. Skrull Val tries to kill Fury - but he kills her first, revealing her Skrull form and prompting Fury to realize that a full-scale Skrull invasion is already happening on Earth. After the Skrull Empire's defeat, the real Valentina appears in a Skrull ship full of humans and heroes that were replaced by the Skrulls. In the MCU, instead of Norman Osborn, Val could become be the one who becomes a hero in Secret Invasion and lead her own state-funded team in Thunderbolts - with the possibility that she's actually a Skrull. This could even explain the title of Captain America: New World Order, which comes right before Thunderbolts in the Phase 5 slate.

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As Secret Invasion's crossover cast is expected to finally weave a unifying plot for MCU Phase 5, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will undoubtedly be tapping deeper into Marvel Comics history. Even if the MCU doesn't bring Norman Osborn back, characters like Val and Wilson Fisk - who led a version of the Thunderbolts in the comics - can still properly adapt Osborn's epic "Secret Invasion," Thunderbolts, and Dark Illuminati story arcs. It's going to be a long wait until Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. In the meantime, Secret Invasion could be setting up not just Thunderbolts, but the MCU rise of the Dark Avengers.

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More: MCU Phases 4-6 Now Have 6 Different Superhero Teams

Key Release Dates
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
  • The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2023)Release date: Jul 28, 2023
  • The Blade (2023)Release date: Nov 03, 2023
  • Marvel's Thunderbolts (2024)Release date: Jul 26, 2024
  • Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (2025)Release date: May 02, 2025
  • Avengers: Secret Wars (2025)Release date: Nov 07, 2025
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