Val and Thunderbolt Ross are expected to lead the MCU's Thunderbolts, but Daredevil: Born Again could establish the next leader of the team of supervillains.
Daredevil: Born Again, the first Marvel Studios-produced Daredevil story in the MCU, could set up Thunderbolt's leader. While it took a while for the MCU to introduce Thunderbolts compared to the Marvel Comics Earth-616 chronology, it makes sense to explore the team of supervillains after Avengers: Endgame as the Avengers take a back seat for now. With Harrison Ford cast as Thunderbolt Ross in Captain America: The New World Order and Val assembling a team, the MCU is clearly ready for Thunderbolt's arrival.
Considering how rarely Marvel introduces new characters or the concept of one-off appearances, the Thunderbolts are expected to return after MCU's Phase 5. In fact, if the MCU's Thunderbolts were anything like the comics, then Marvel's team of villains and anti-heroes would be recurring forces in the MCU - much like the Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. Therefore, the Thunderbolts could have new and different leaders depending on the story.
Wilson Fisk Can Lead The MCU’s Thunderbolts In The Future
While Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Val and Harrison Ford's General Ross are expected to lead the MCU's Thunderbolts team first, Wilson Fisk may lead the supervillain and antihero team Sometime in the near future. With Vincent D'Onofrio's Fisk now a part of Marvel Studios' MCU, and considering all the Daredevil canon debate, it's safe to say the Kingpin will play a major role in Phase 5 and beyond. Wilson Fisk is set to return in Daredevil: Rebirth, but Marvel Comics history suggests the protagonist is more than just a Daredevil villain. In fact, Wilson Fisk has already led the Human Torch in the comics.
As part of the Mayor Wilson Fisk storyline, which saw Fisk elected as mayor of New York with an anti-superhero platform, the Kingpin connected with Baron Zemo to assemble a new Thunderbolts team that would answer to Fisk. During that time, Wilson Fisk takes on a more Norman Osborn role -- a seemingly reformed supervillain who now uses his power and influence to play the game from the shadows. As Mayor, Wilson Fisk becomes a more terrifying villain to characters like Spider-Man and Daredevil, and the MCU could adapt storylines through rebirth or the appearance of a future Kingpin.
How Wilson Fisk & The Thunderbolts Can Connect In The MCU
Originally, having Wilson Fisk as the leader of Thunderbolts didn't work because the MCU hadn't properly introduced the Marvel supervillain team. Thunderbolts (2025) will serve as the Thunderbolts' origin story, with Val and Thunderbolt Ross as possible leaders of the group. However, if the Thunderbolts are a recurring MCU team, it would make sense to have Fisk as the next leader. The MCU doesn't have its own Norman Osborn, and it's unclear if Spider-Man-related characters will be allowed to appear in multiple non-Spider-Man MCU movies. Therefore, Fisk can replace Osborn in MCU.
By adapting Mayor Fisk's storyline in Daredevil: Rebirth in Phase 5, the MCU will have a very different Wilson Fisk from the Netflix Daredevil series. As mayor, Fisk will have the authority to form his personal team of superheroes, which could be the next phase of Operation Thunderbolts. If it weren't for the absence of Norman Osborn, stories like "Dark Reign" and "Dark Avengers" would be perfect in the post-"Avengers: Endgame" MCU. Still, the MCU can capture the essence of these stories, with Wilson Fisk as the powerful behind-the-scenes figure, not Norman Osborn, pulling the ties of groups like Thunderbolts.