MCU Theory Reveals Ross To Replace Norman Osborn In Phase 5 Avengers Story

Harrison Ford's Thunderbolt Ross will be a strong player in MCU Phase 5 - but is Marvel adapting the classic Dark Reign story?

Thunderbolt could replace Norman Osborn in Phase 5 of the MCU, playing a key role in the classic Avengers story. Originally played by the late William Hurt, Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross is the classic foe of the Hulk, who has become increasingly important in the MCU. Harrison Ford will play Ross in Phase Five, appearing in the upcoming Captain America: The New World Order. The high-profile casting decision certainly means he'll be a major power player in the MCU's future.

It is reasonable to assume that Ross will be an antagonist in Captain America: The New World Order. This is in line with Ross' appearance in The Hulk, Captain America: Civil War and even Black Widow. In the first film, Ross was responsible for the super-soldier experiment that created the Hulk; for the past two years, he's been the one overseeing the controversial Sokovia Accords. It has been rumored that he will rise to new heights in Captain America: The New World Order, becoming the President of the United States. This raises the possibility that Marvel is telling the classic story in the comics, the "Dark Reign" epic, in which Spider-Man's enemy Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) becomes a member The most important character in the Marvel Universe.

Thunderbolt Ross Isn't President In Marvel's Secret Invasion Disney+ Series

The first thing to note is that Thunderbolt Ross is not Phase 4's President of the United States. Instead, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever pays tribute to President Ritson multiple times, and Dermot Mulroney is confirmed to be playing the character in the upcoming Disney+ drama Secret Invasion. Leeson navigates a vastly different geopolitical environment, seeking a trade deal with New Asgard while taking a more aggressive approach to Wakanda. Photos from the set of "Secret Invasion" featured a newspaper confirming that President Ritson will be traveling to the UK for emergency talks "among unprecedented tensions". It's reasonable to assume that these tensions are being fueled by Skrull sleeper cells, which are conducting a secret invasion in arcs raised directly from the comics.

Despite years of excellent preparation, the Invasion comic book event was actually underwhelming; it quickly morphed into a standard superhero brawl. Most memorably, there was a momentous power transition in which S.H.I.E.L.D. boss Maria Hill was disgraced and replaced by then-hero Norman Osborn. Something similar could easily have happened in the MCU, with President Ritson's presidency coming to an abrupt end -- Either because he was a Skrull sleeper agent himself, or because he was targeted and killed by the Skrulls. The first possibility is intriguing, since the Skrulls would naturally want to replace high-value targets, but the Secret Invasion trailer hints at the second possibility -- what appears to be footage of the President's motorcade being attacked. Ross could be Ritson's replacement; most likely, Ross is already Ritson's VP, explaining his post-Sokovia role, also in line with the US government's Phase 4 Some of the more questionable decisions of , represented by damage control organizations.

The MCU's Phase 5 Could Be Thunderbolt Ross' "Dark Reign"

In the comics, Secret Invasion kicks off one of the funniest eras in Marvel Comics history. The following year's comic book entries were collectively titled Dark Reign, with nearly every book in the shadow of Norman Osborn and the superhero team he commanded, most notably Thunderbolt and the Dark Avengers. The same goes for Thunderbolt Ross and Phase 5 of the MCU - an idea that fits surprisingly well with upcoming plans. With Secret Invasion set for spring 2023, the new status quo could be explored on the broader market The screen in Captain America 4 - perfectly explains why the title of this movie is "The New World Order". Captain America 4 could feature characters rebelling against Roth's presidency, much like the Avengers rebelled against Norman Osborn's dark reign in the comics.

Of course, this story needs to be handled with care. In the comics, Norman Osborn is just Superman who oversees America. The MCU version is actually dealing with the President of the United States. Thunderbolt Ross would naturally have a democratic mandate, which means that if Sam Wilson and his fellow Avengers did try to somehow overthrow or depose him, they would indeed be making very dangerous decisions. The MCU's Sokovia Accords are essentially an attempt to create an accountability system for the Avengers, which will once again raise the thorny question of what right the Avengers have to take unilateral action against a sitting president. The Avengers are treading dangerous ground.

Going forward, this would explain why Phase 5 of the MCU introduced a new team called Thunderbolts. Ross has always been intrigued by the idea of ​​super-soldiers; The Incredible Hulk novels confirm that he worked on it multiple times before creating the events Hulk. It's certainly no coincidence that the MCU's confirmed Thunderbolts team includes several super-soldiers, just the kind of people Ross would be interested in, and the MCU's team could be given a codename (or nickname) for the president of the United States who sponsors the program.

How Will Thunderbolt Ross' Dark Reign End?

Roth's promotion even coincided with preparations for Dynasty Kang, which was confirmed as the name of the next major Avengers film. It's named after the much-loved Avengers story in which time-traveling villain Conqueror Conqueror used the Avengers' divisions and distractions to launch an attack on Earth. Preoccupied with a plethora of other threats, the Avengers failed to spot signs of Kang's imminent arrival. It's easy to imagine Roth's "Dark Reign" playing this role in the MCU's overarching narrative, ensuring heroes have too many ideas to effectively organize against a larger foe.

Such arcs can be used to confirm how dangerous Kang the Conqueror's enemies really are. If this theory is correct, Thunderbolt Ross is the main villain of Phase 5, but Phase 6 will start to humble him when Kang arrives strength. The various narrative threads running through Phases 4 and 5 will finally tie together before the final act of the Multiverse Saga, ensuring audiences are indeed taking Kang seriously as the MCU's next big bad.

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