RIP William Hurt: Pitch for Thunderbolt Ross's Future in the MCU | Fanboys Anonymous

RIP William Hurt: Pitch for Thunderbolt Ross's Future in the MCU

Posted by Anthony Mango Monday, March 14, 2022

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the acting community as a whole lost William Hurt this week at the age of 71.

Within this geek culture living space, immediately, I saw the reaction of "What are they going to do about General Ross in the MCU? Is there still going to be a Thunderbolts without William Hurt? Will they recast?"

I am far from a Hulk specialist or an authority on comics, so take what I say with a grain of salt as someone who is more on the "above average, but not an expert" level, but here are my general thoughts of what I think should and will happen with the future of the MCU in regards to General Thunderbolt Ross.

Recast or Retire?

Whenever there is a situation like this, one question is always whether or not they should just recast the part. I'm of the opinion that there is no definitive yes/no that applies to all scenarios, and you have to take each one in a case-by-case basis.

If the actor is still around, I think it's almost a guarantee you should just recast. For instance, Edward Norton's replacement with Mark Ruffalo for Bruce Banner. If the actor has passed away, it's a little trickier.

It may be controversial, but I've always been an advocate of recasting T'challa for Black Panther, rather than trying to figure out a way around that. Then again, I'm not the type of person who should be passing judgment, for a multitude of reasons.

But in this scenario, I don't think Thunderbolt Ross should be recast. That's because it's much easier to retire the character than it is to change Black Panther and undo that character development.

With Ross, while he's integral to maintaining continuity in the MCU, I think his character has had enough growth and can be replaced with other similar parts.

How Do You Move On?

We don't know yet what capacity Ross figured into She-Hulk or any other projects going forward. Only Marvel knows that right now. So without knowing that information and having the benefit of hindsight, we can only speculate.

My prediction is that he was going to be in She-Hulk, but only as a minor character to be an overseer of the Hulk lineage in general. He has history with all parties and would be invested in the potential of a "new Hulk" being created.

I do not think he was going to be Red Hulk. We'll address that in a bit.

If this wasn't already the plan, I think part of the story for She-Hulk should be that people are experimenting on Banner's DNA and still not learning the lessons that attempting to recreate the Super Soldier serum is going to end in disaster. While something will happen to Jennifer Walters that will result in her getting a blood transfusion or whatever the case that triggers her transformation, plenty other people won't be as lucky.

Here's what I would do, and what I think (in some form) and what I hope Marvel is doing.

General Ross is an overseer of these projects on behalf of the government, but he's not directly-directly involved. As in, he's not in the same position he was in The Incredible Hulk, but he still has an investment, as the government will always want to have some sort of weapon like this in their control. His attempt was Blonsky, and we'll see Abomination. We might even see The Leader as a consultant. Hopefully, Rick Jones is there (and maybe even a primary love interest?) but that's deviating from the focus here of Ross.

His replacement as the true overseer of this project should be General John Ryker, who can be conducting experiments on a number of poor souls. Someone in the project should be Dr. Geoffrey Crawford (Ravage). Two unfortunate volunteers for the trials who end up failed monsters are Dennis Sykes and Private Benjamin "Benny" Tibbets, aka Flux.

But the ultimate goal is to get us to...

Red Hulk

Thunderbolt Ross doesn't need to be Red Hulk. I know he was in the comics, but he doesn't need to be in the MCU. Some elements of the MCU are just flat out different, for better or worse. I'm personally much more of a fan of Ultron being a Tony Stark invention than anything related to Hank Pym, and I hated the fake Mandarin twist, for examples of both scenarios.

Red Hulk can be a number of other people instead of Ross, but I think our best candidates are two-fold: General Robert L. Maverick and Glenn Talbot.

I'd lean more toward Maverick. He actually does go by Red Hulk in the comics and he's a new character that hasn't been brought into the mix. As a general, he can be "trusted" to undergo the procedure to become Red Hulk and work with the government, so that makes sense.

Talbot is an option, but he's a little trickier. We've seen him before in the Ang Lee film and in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which hasn't been canonized, but might be. I don't think it will, for the record. I think they'll write that off as being a variant universe where there could be crossovers and some of the same continuity might have happened, but the bulk of it isn't, so that the MCU proper isn't beholden to aspects of the show. We've seen a different Darkhold already, we'll see a different Ghost Rider and so on, but if they ever want to incorporate FitzSimmons to get the audience to pop, they can.

Talbot can work well if he's also tied to Walters in some fashion. He tends to work well as a character who can be a romantic rival of sorts, and since Bruce and Jennifer obviously are related and won't be having that kind of dynamic, Talbot could be more so a romantic interest for her who turns bad.

If not just because Maverick actually was Red Hulk in the comics, though, I'd go for him.

The Thunderbolts

Finally, at the end of this, we should end up with a Thunderbolts team and show or movie. But how does that happen without Thunderbolt Ross?

Simple. The team is named in honor of him, with him having started the project.

Think of it like S.H.I.E.L.D. being partially named in honor of Steve Rogers and the Captain America shield. It can be said that Ross was responsible for creating this division that would lead into this team, so they've decided to name them The Thunderbolts in his name after he's passed away.

Valentina Allegra de Fontaine should be the leader of this unit. She's already established as filling a similar role, the audience knows her, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a big name actress who can help draw attention to the show or film. She already has a history with John Walker, who should definitely be on the team, and it's the easiest transition possible.

RIP William Hurt

What do you think will happen with this character? What are your favorite moments from William Hurt's career in and out of the MCU? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!


Tony Mango is the founder, editor-in-chief, head writer and podcast host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment. He is a pundit, creative director/consultant, fiction writer and more. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.