Marvel’s Thunderbolts may loosely share a premise with The Suicide Squad, but the MCU movie already risks coming off as a pale imitation. The idea of assembling a team of anti-heroes is nothing new, nor is the idea of bringing together a group of villains. The idea has been present in comics for decades, and is now making its way onto the big screen, too.

DC got there first with 2016’s Suicide Squad, a poorly written and even more poorly executed movie following a number of DC’s prominent villains as they’re forced to form Task Force X, also known as the Suicide Squad. The failure of the film was followed up with 2021’s The Suicide Squad, a loose sequel directed by James Gunn that’s generally considered a vast improvement upon its predecessor. Marvel is now set to explore a similar idea with Thunderbolts, adapting a version of the titular villain team in the MCU using previously introduced characters.

Though Thunderbolts shares a general premise with The Suicide Squad, it will find it impossible to recreate the success of James Gunn’s DCEU movie. The announced Thunderbolts line-up is made up of characters that simply can’t recreate the winning dynamic of Gunn’s DCEU film. Each member of Thunderbolts‘ announced line-up has made previous MCU appearances that proves this, primarily because most of them lack the charisma to carry the upcoming movie.

MCU’s Thunderbolts Can’t Recreate James Gunn’s Suicide Squad Success

The cast of Marvel's Thunderbolts in promo art

The nature of Thunderbolts‘ line-up hints at a more self-serious affair than James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. The characters of Ghost, Taskmaster, John Walker/US Agent, and even Bucky Barnes are primarily serious characters that have yet to contribute genuine comedy to the MCU. Though David Harbour’s Red Guardian and Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova have proved significantly less serious, the fact that two of Thunderbolts‘ main characters (Ghost and Taskmaster) rarely speak doesn’t bode well for the film’s comedic prospects.

The fact that Thunderbolts makes use of such a similar premise to The Suicide Squad will likely be a problem. It’s not a question of originality – two different rosters of characters in different universes should be considered entirely separately, after all – but rather of circumstance. The success of The Suicide Squad sets a certain bar for Thunderbolts that the MCU characters leading the film may struggle to clear. This may actually mean that for the first time, the DCEU could be subjected to a favorable comparison against the MCU.

Of course, Thunderbolts may surprise us and deliver a powerful story that blends action, drama, and comedy, but the MCU’s formulaic blend of these genres has become increasingly formulaic. The characters that Thunderbolts uses have already been established in the MCU, and their chances aren’t great: most of them simply don’t seem interesting or charismatic enough to lead a film. Whether Thunderbolts will surpass expectations remains to be seen, but The Suicide Squad‘s success has made it something of a tall order even for the overwhelming might of Marvel.