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Thunderbolts: David Harbour On Yelena & Alexei's Complex Relationship

Stranger Things star David Harbour says that Thunderbolts will explore the complex relationship between Yelena Belova and Alexei Shostakov, aka Red Guardian.

Article Summary

  • David Harbour teases Yelena and Alexei's relationship depth in Thunderbolts.
  • Director Jake Schreier dives into characters' complex spy history.
  • Thunderbolts hit by delays, now boasts a third release date on July 25, 2025.
  • Production affected by industry strike demanding fair wages for creatives.

We love some good team dynamics in this house, so the entire concept behind Thunderbolts is something we're already into. However, the team they have put together for this film promises some interesting interactions. Half of the fun of superhero movies is taking all these weird characters with big personalities and out-of-this-world power sets, throwing them into a room together, and seeing what fireworks go off. In the case of Thunderbolts, we might be looking at some more fireworks in the emotional sense, considering we have both Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and Alexei Shostakov, aka Red Guardian (David Harbour), on this team. We got to see how complex their relationship is now a little bit in Black Widow, but this film is looking to explore even more of the relationship between the once father-daughter duo. ScreenRant got the chance to speak to Harbour recently at the BoxLunch Holiday Gala red carpet, and he spoke about the unexplored history and the "great care" that director Jake Schreier took with exploring their lives while they were still undercover.

"So they have a lot of unexplored history," Harbour said. "There's a lot of details that the director, Jake, has gone into the great care of what their life was like in the Midwest when they were doing all that spy stuff. And then, a lot of that comes up in really fun, interesting, beautiful ways, which, like in the Black Widow movie, came up with that song, American Pie. And there's just a lot of complexity between me and Florence's character, which I love.

"And also, they're two people that… she can't stand, but she needs some because she's incomplete in a certain way that he may be able to help her with," Harbour continued. "I think that's always so beautiful. Because I feel like our relationships are always so… Sometimes we don't get to choose the people that complete us. The people that we really need. I think that they exemplify that in their own way. It will be fun to bring that to life in the movie."

Thunderbolts: David Harbour On Yelena & Alexei's Complex Relationship
David Harbour at the Violent Night Premiere at the TCL Chinese Theater IMAX on November 29, 2022, in Los Angeles, CA. Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins /

Marvel is coming out of a rocky 2023 and a very light slate in 2024 because Disney decided that writers and actors weren't worth paying livable wages to for multiple months. One of the films impacted by the strike delays was Thunderbolts, as the film was delayed yet again with it snagging its third confirmed release date. It's still unclear whether or not there are more production delays on the way, but we'll have to see how the rest of this year and early 2024 goes. The cast and concept of Thunderbolts is very promising, and we'll have to see if Marvel can stick this landing.

Thunderbolts: Summary, Cast List, Release Date

In June of 2022, we learned that a Thunderbolts project was in the works, and the news was confirmed at the conventions later in the year. At the D23 Expo, we learned the lineup for the movie would include Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell), Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Red Guardian (David Harbour), and Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko). The cast also reportedly includes Harrison Ford as Thaddeus' Thunderbolt' Boss, The Bear breakout star Ayo Edebiri, and The Walking Dead alumni Steven YeunJake Schreier is directing the movie from a script by Eric Pearson. Thunderbolts was initially set to start production this year but had to stop due to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes because studios like Disney refuse to give writers and actors livable wages. Due to the production halt, Thunderbolts also had its release date delayed from July 26, 2024, to December 20, 2024, and again to July 25, 2025.

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Kaitlyn BoothAbout Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Film critic and pop culture writer since 2013. Ace. Leftist. Nerd. Feminist. Writer. Replicant Translator. Cinephillic Virtue Signaler. She/Her. UFCA/GALECA Member. 🍅 Approved. Follow her Threads, Instagram, and Twitter @katiesmovies.
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