CinemaCon: Marvel Studios Title Change for 2025 Film Sparks Online Speculation

Marvel Studios One Above All, Kevin Feige, took the stage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas for the first time and the head honcho did not disappoint. In addition to rolling out the first looks at footage from Deadpool and Wolverine and Captain America: Brave New World, Feige also confirmed a minor title change to one of their 2025 projects and left fans with a cryptic tease about its meaning.

During a recently staged behind-the-scenes video from Marvel Studios’ star Florence Pugh, a new logo and title for the studio’s Thunderbolts project was revealed. Originally titled Thunderbolts, the film’s new logo revealed it was now titled Thunderbolts*. About as minor of a change as one can imagine. During his time on stage in Las Vegas, Feige confirmed the title change while showing off the new logo and also leaving fans hanging as to the meaning of the asterisk. “Yes, you’ll notice the asterisk on Thunderbolts. That is the official title of Thunderbolts and we won’t talk more about that until after the movie comes out.” teased Feige, leaving fans to do what they do best: speculate wildly.

Typically when placed at the end of a word, an asterisk indicates some sort of footnote is being cross-referenced. That does not seem to be the case here which leaves a little mystery around the minor change to the title. It’s possible the asterisk indicates some additional context is needed to understand the title of the film which is also the title of the team of antiheroes who undertake a secret mission in the film. Given all the online hubbub about one purported explanation for how the team gets the name, it’s possible that the asterisk is indeed a reference to how the team chooses its moniker. However, fans are looking much deeper for explanations.

One possible explanation that’s beginning to take root is that the asterisk somehow indicates that the team will become known as the Dark Avengers, a team that debuted in Marvel Comics in 2009. Ironically enough, word reached my ears almost 6 years ago that Marvel Studios commissioned a writer to put a Dark Avengers script together. At the time, the studio was also still developing Eternals, Black Widow and sequels to hits like Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy that were all intended to be set after Avengers: Endgame, which still hadn’t even hit theaters at the time. Time went on, COVID happened and we assumed that like many other projects that begin development–such as Power Pack–, Dark Avengers was moved to the bottom of the pile, never to be heard from again.

Could the asterisk point to a Dark Avengers adaptation? Possibly, though the composition of the current roster of Thunderbolts (Yelena Belova, Taskmaster, Ghost and John Walker) is a long way from the collection of scum and villainy that Norman Osborn put together for the Dark Avengers. Even thematically, the name change doesn’t truly fit since the Dark Avengers were almost all non-redeemable sociopaths and psychopaths. However, as we say far too often, Marvel Studios has no qualms about co-opting names and titles without any intention of comic-accurate adaptations, as proven by the fact that their roster of Thunderbolts features not a single character from the original team despite Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo, founder of the OG team in the comics, being fully established in the MCU. Thunderbolts* is cool but Dark Avengers has the A-word in it and the A-word sells.

Thunderbolts* is currently slated to hit theaters on May 2, 2025.

About Dark Avengers

The Dark Avengers, a formidable and morally ambiguous team within Marvel Comics, emerged as a stark departure from the traditional hero archetype. Introduced during the “Dark Reign” storyline, orchestrated by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Deodato, the Dark Avengers debuted in “Dark Avengers” #1 in 2009.

Led by Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin and head of the clandestine organization H.A.M.M.E.R. (replacing S.H.I.E.L.D. during the “Dark Reign”), the Dark Avengers were a twisted reflection of the original Avengers. Osborn meticulously handpicked each member, often selecting individuals with dark pasts and a willingness to embrace villainy or anti-heroism.

One of the most notable aspects of the Dark Avengers was their masquerade as Earth’s mightiest heroes. Osborn, now rebranded as the Iron Patriot, donned a modified version of Iron Man’s armor and positioned himself as the leader of this new Avengers team. The team roster comprised individuals who assumed the identities of classic Avengers characters, albeit with their own unique twist. For instance, Bullseye took on the mantle of Hawkeye, Moonstone portrayed Ms. Marvel, Venom (Mac Gargan) became Spider-Man, and Daken, the son of Wolverine, assumed the guise of his father.

The dynamic within the Dark Avengers was fraught with tension and moral ambiguity. While some members harbored genuine desires to reform or redeem themselves, others reveled in their newfound power and embraced their darker impulses. This internal conflict often led to explosive confrontations and power struggles within the team.

Despite their dubious motives and methods, the Dark Avengers proved to be a formidable force, wielding significant influence over the Marvel Universe during the “Dark Reign” era. Their actions challenged the very fabric of heroism, blurring the lines between good and evil and forcing readers to question the nature of heroism itself.

Over time, as Osborn’s machinations unraveled and his grip on power weakened, the Dark Avengers disbanded, with each member returning to their own path, whether it be redemption, continued villainy, or anti-heroism. However, their legacy continues to linger in the annals of Marvel Comics, serving as a testament to the complexity of the human condition and the ever-shifting nature of morality in a world of super-powered beings.

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