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Marvel Studios' has changed the title of 2025's Thunderbolts movie, and we want to know why

It's not 'Thunderbolts,' it's 'Thunderbolts*,' according to MCU boss Kevin Feige (punctuation is important!)

CinemaCon 2024
Image credit: Walt Disney Studios/Getty Images

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As if we weren’t curious enough about Marvel Studios’ Thunderbolts movie already, a new factoid revealed by Marvel boss Kevin Feige has added a new wrinkle — well, more a new cause of obsession, if we’re being honest. The name of the movie, you see, isn’t actually Thunderbolts. It’s Thunderbolts* — yes, with the asterisk.

Speaking at Las Vegas’ CinemaCon, Feige told the assembled crowd that “Thunderbolts” will have an asterisk behind it officially from that point on — but he didn’t reveal why. Which, of course, got us thinking. (Because it’s us; I mean, what, are we not going to let our imaginations run wild after learning something like that?)

Why would the asterisk be part of the title? What could it mean? Here are the favorite theories we’ve come up with so far.

The asterisk is there to indicate that ‘Thunderbolts’ isn’t really the name of the movie

Concept art featuring the cast of Thunderbolts
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel is no stranger to announcing a movie with one title, then releasing it with another: 2016’s Captain America: Civil War was originally announced as Captain America: Serpent Society. (If you’re reading this, Mr. Feige, we’d still like a Serpent Society movie, please.) 2024’s Captain America: Brave New World was originally announced as Captain America: New World Order, similarly. It’s not a big deal, because things change in the production process, and sometimes people come up with better ideas — no-one would deny that 2019’s Avengers: Endgame is a far better name than Avengers: Infinity War Part 2, which was the movie’s original title, after all.

But what if Thunderbolts was always intended to be a placeholder title and the addition of the asterisk a year out from release is part of a planned reveal? In comic book lore, there was a team of Thunderbolts headed up by Norman Osborn that later became known as the Dark Avengers — would Marvel Studios be planning on using that latter title instead…? After all, there’s no denying that the ‘Avengers’ brand has a lot of juice behind it…

Related: Marvel Studios' new Deadpool & Wolverine sneak peek features Kevin Feige jokes, the TVA, and Wade Wilson as a car salesman

The asterisk is there to indicate that there’s more to the team than fans are expecting

Image credit: Getty Images/Walt Disney Company

Ask anyone who remembers the launch of the original Thunderbolts comic book, and they’ll tell you about the surprise at the heart of it — a surprise that, almost three decades later, has lost some of the punch that it initially had, but was enough to instantly create word of mouth buzz surrounding the comic at the time. (Spoiler warning: the cast of heroes who made up the team were not who they claimed to be. Saying anything more would be perhaps too much.)

While that’s not going to be a trick repeated in the MCU version of the Thunderbolts — we know who the members, and the actors, attached are already, if nothing else — it’s a reminder that there’s an element of trickery baked into the very DNA of the Thunderbolts concept. Putting an asterisk behind something traditionally implies that there’s more pertinent information that needs to be revealed about that thing; is Marvel suggesting the same thing with Thunderbolts’ asterisk? And if so… what?

The asterisk is there to lead into multiple jokes, indicating the comedic tone of the movie

Photograph of the cast of Thunderbolts ons tage in front of an image of them in costume
Image credit: Marvel

Perhaps we’re just overthinking all of this; it’s possible that the asterisk is a self-conscious, intentional quirk to suggest that this isn’t like the other Marvel teams, and that there’s a twist that everyone should pay their money and sit in their seat to find out. It’s not outside the realms of possibility that the actual key to the asterisk won’t be a permanent thing, but a series of gags in everything from taglines on posters to punchlines inside the movie itself, each time underscoring the idea that the Thunderbolts don’t really stand for anything other than what’s important in that particular moment.

After all, a morally ambiguous superteam with additional jokes worked out well for Marvel the first time they tried it, back when the galaxy needed guarding…

The Thunderbolts asterisk is there to drive us mad with speculation

Let’s be honest, this might be the most reasonable solution for now: the asterisk doesn’t have any meaning beyond being something that Kevin Feige put out there as a joke to see how everyone would react, knowing that it’d drive people like me insane wanting to work out just what’s going on. If this is the case, then… well played, Marvel. You win this round… and, realistically, probably the box office when Thunderbolts* is released in theaters May 2, 2025. (If you’re wanting to keep track of all the upcoming MCU releases, we’ve got a guide for that.)

Popverse has assembled everything you need to know about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, from our MCU watch order to a guide to upcoming Marvel movies and TV shows. Plus, we've taken the time to rank the entire MCU and compile the biggest outstanding questions from Marvel's connected films. Enjoy.