|For alternate versions of Thaddeus Ross, see Thaddeus Ross' Character Hub|
Secretary Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross is the former Lieutenant General of the United States Army who became the Secretary of State for President Matthew Ellis. During his career, he was put in charge of their military project called the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project, with Ross' main aim being to find ways to recreate the Super Soldier Serum. However, the experiment led to an accident which then transformed the scientist Bruce Banner into Hulk. After their long chase, Banner got captured, only for Ross' subordinate officer Emil Blonsky to use all their experiments to transform into the monstrous Abomination. In the face of these odds, Ross was forced to accept Hulk as an ally, allowing him to escape after the fight in New York City, as Ross had been left humiliated by such a disastrous defeat.
Six years after this incident, Ross left the Military and served as the United States Secretary of State. During this time, Ross approved of the Sokovia Accords, which aimed to control the actions of enhanced individuals, primarily the Avengers due to their past actions. As Captain America publicly disowned their accords before going on the run with the Winter Soldier, Ross instructed Iron Man to bring them into custody. Ross arrested many of the Avengers, although Captain America would later break them out following the arrest of Helmut Zemo. Ross led the manhunt for Natasha Romanoff, although later deciding to forgive her after she took down the Red Room and ended General Dreykov's plans for world domination.
Ross' actions with the Accords eventually proved deadly since the divided Avengers failed to stop Thanos from causing the Snap, killing trillions of people, including Ross. After he was resurrected in the Blip, Ross attended Tony Stark's funeral.
A young Thaddeus Ross had returned to the United States of America at the age of twenty-seven, having joined the United States Army and also participated in the Vietnam War. Through his career, Ross swiftly rose up through the ranks, becoming a three-star general, and had his daughter named Elizabeth, although they always had a highly tense relationship throughout her life. Ross was involved in their research and development program which intended to recreate a Super Soldier Serum. That project was known as the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project. At the beginning of the scheme, the army used their captured terrorists to test out various serums. However, since the pictures from the project came out, the United States Congress terminated it.
- "Across the hall, they were trying to arm you better. We were trying to make you better. Banner's work was very early phase. It wasn't even weapons application. He thought that he was working on radiation resistance. I would never have told him what the project really was."
- ―Thaddeus Ross to Emil Blonsky[src]
General Ross had made an agreement with the scientist Bruce Banner, the boyfriend of his daughter, for working on his government project to the weapon development project, under the guise of it being used to render soldiers resistant to radiation, as Ross did not intend to inform Banner of the experiment's meaning. Involved from early phase research, Banner conducted one test on himself dealing with gamma radiation, instead of vita radiation, being also administered with a a myostatin primer developed by Betty, confident it would work.
However, as the experiment went ahead, Ross witnessed something going terribly wrong as Banner was struck by an immense dosage of gamma radiation, causing an explosion. Following the blast, Banner was transformed into Hulk, a giant and amazingly strong brute fueled by rage who fled after injuring his daughter, leaving her in a coma as well as killing two scientists along with a soldier of the United States Army and crushing General Ross' arm during the ensuing fight.
Ross was left with a badly broken arm following the incident, as well as a deep hatred of Banner, whom he blamed for the entire incident which had almost killed his daughter. When Banner had transformed back to normal and returned in order to visit Betty while she was still recovering from her injuries in the hospital, General Ross was furious and threw out Banner, causing Banner to have to go on the run from the General, who ordered his soldiers to take Banner into custody.
Taken by a sense of guilt and rage, Ross put his life at the service of a single cause: to hunt down and capture Bruce Banner. Ross took charge of the Strategic Operations Command Center's effort to then recover the fugitive while in coordination with S.H.I.E.L.D., working alongside Director Nick Fury in the mission. The General's obsession caused a major rift between him and his daughter, Betty Ross, who still loved Banner. Their relationship never fully recovered.
Meeting Tony Stark
Five years after the "Hulk incident", as Tony Stark had become a superhero known as Iron Man, Senator Stern called Ross and he took a break from his experiments. Together, they worked with Justin Hammer who presented to James Rhodes and Ross the Aerodynamic Marvel, which he considered to be the next step in close-quarter combat with protection and attack capabilities. Ross planned to use the vehicle in the place of Iron Man for the military.
However, the machine was shot down during testing in Congo. When Iron Man was sent in to clean up, Ross held off on an official rescue to witness him in action. Once Stark saved the pilot, Ross ordered him to land on Cairo's West Air Base immediately. There, he confronted Stark over not returning fire during his shootout with the Congolese Army. Ross claimed that Stark himself was a weapon in spite of distancing himself from his father. Stark warned that if Ross put more innocent lives in harm's way, there would be consequences.
Building an Elite Team
- "Your target is a fugitive from the US Government who stole military secrets. He is implicated in the deaths of two scientists, a military officer, an Idaho state trooper and possibly two Canadian hunters. So don't wait to see if he's a fighter. Tranq him and bring him back."
- ―Thaddeus Ross to Emil Blonsky[src]
While working in the Pentagon in Virginia, Ross was met by Kathleen Sparr who had received intel that a man in Milwaukee had received a strong case of gamma poisoning after he had drunk a single bottle of Pingo Doce. Looking at that amount of gamma radiation which had been inside the drink, Ross deduced that this must have been caused by Bruce Banner, who must have infected the bottle.
Having finally gained his first lead on Banner's location in years, Ross had immediately begun a frantic search for his target, ordering Sparr to track down this factory that had been produced that soda, as she had explained was in Rocinha, in Rio de Janeiro. Ross ordered his soldiers and their contacts to look out for a white man who had been working in the factory while noting that the soldiers were not to make any contact with Banner as he would run at the first sign of danger.
Believing that he was quickly closing in on capturing Banner at long last, Ross had begun putting together a special unit of highly trained soldiers with their sole purpose being to locate and capture Banner. Once he recruiting the help of General Joe Greller, Ross not only put together a team of some of the best soldiers he could find, as Greller also managed to hire one of the best operatives at his disposal, Emil Blonsky, and had then sent them to the village of Rio de Janeiro.
As they traveled to the location, Ross chooses to not disclose the secrets of Banner's condition, believing them to still be top-secret. He told Blonsky and the other soldiers that Banner was a target of the United States government who had stolen military secrets and when Blonsky asked for more details, he refused to share them. He ordered them to ensure that Banner was captured without incident, while not telling them of the risks involved with their mission.
Encounter in Brazil
Upon their arrival in Brazil, Ross remained inside their armored van with Kathleen Sparr while Emil Blonsky led their team of soldiers to the location of Bruce Banner. Ross watched the monitors closely as their team arrived at the location before Ross gave the order and they blasted open the door and shot their darts at Banner, only to discover that Banner had already managed to make his escape.
Ross furiously ordered Blonsky and their team to find Banner, as they headed out onto the streets of Rio de Janeiro until Blonsky managed to catch sight of their target and gave chase. Upon seeing this, Ross ordered his soldiers to drive him to Banner's location, with Ross still ordering Blonsky not to lose sight of Banner. As the chase continued, Ross' truck eventually pulled up right in front of Banner, as Ross then stepped out to look at his target in the eyes before Banner fled.
As the chase had continued, Blonsky's men then tracked Banner into a factory, while Ross pulled up outside and watched from the team's body cams as they silently entered the factory, finding Banner in the middle of his confrontation with some tough guys. Just as Blonsky's men had him cornered, Ross watched in horror as Banner began his transformation into Hulk, brutally dispatching the thugs who were trying to beat him up, as Ross ordered them to shoot at Hulk.
However, the team were incredibly underprepared for their encounter with Hulk, as they were all picked off, one by one, by the beast's incredible strength, as their tranquilizer darts simply bounced off his skin, much to Ross' horror. Eventually, only Blonsky was left alone to challenge Hulk, as he witnessed the beast throw a forklift truck at him, before smashing his way through a wall and escaping, as Ross yelled out in complete frustration as he lost his target once again.
In the wake of Banner's escape, Ross and Sparr had regrouped with Blonsky at Banner's apartment to discuss the situation. Blonsky had presented Ross with the backpack that Banner had dropped during the chase, which included his laptop which Sparr began looking over. Blonsky noticed a picture of Betty Ross on the laptop, questioning who she was as Ross refused to answer him, while he claimed that Betty was no longer a concern, insisting that Banner worked alone.
While Ross then ordered Sparr to find out if Banner had been talking with anybody else, Blonsky finally spoke up as he questioned if they were willing to talk about what happened back at the factory. Ross then listened while Blonsky insisted that Banner had not been alone, referring to Hulk, with Blonsky insisting that their team had been attacked by something huge which was protecting Banner, furiously explaining how Hulk had thrown a forklift truck directly at him.
Ross then spoke up, telling Blonsky that Hulk was gone and that it was Banner. As Blonsky had asked Ross to explain this statement, Ross refused to go into any more detail about how Banner had been able to transform himself into Hulk, much to Blonsky's frustration. Ross then ordered Blonsky and Sparr to collect the rest of their unit and return to the United States of America, as Ross looked out over Brazil, believing he had lost his last chance to capture Banner.
Following the disastrous mission in Brazil, Ross and took the bodies of the members of the Strategic Operations Command Center who had been killed in action as they flew back towards the United States of America. As Ross stood by the bodies of their soldiers, he listened while Kathleen Sparr had then explained to him exactly how Bruce Banner had managed to avoid any detection for so long.
Looking over all of the evidence that they had recovered, Ross finally deduced that Banner had been attempting to figure out a way to cure himself of Hulk. Sparr questioned if this was a good thing or not, as Ross furiously insisted that he had no interest in getting Banner, but that he wanted Hulk that was inside of him, as he could be a major asset to the United States Armed Forces, while Sparr promised that they would still continue their search for Banner regardless.
However, the infuriated Ross complained that this would be no use, as Banner was already on the move and he had proved himself more than capable of avoiding detection whenever he wanted to. As Ross paced around the plane, he locked eyes with Emil Blonsky, who was still considering everything that he had witnessed during their clash with Hulk, as Ross and Blonsky looked at each other before Ross simply walked away without either saying a word to the other.
Updating General Greller
Once he had returned to the United States of America, Ross went to meet with General Joe Greller to explain exactly what had happened in Brazil and how their men had been killed in action, with Ross then telling Greller exactly how Bruce Banner had transformed into Hulk and killed their men. Unsurprisingly, Greller was unconvinced by the story, although Ross insisted that he was being serious.
For confirmation of the story, Greller then invited Emil Blonsky in their meeting, who confirmed what Ross had already told Greller, detailing what his own battle against Hulk had been like. As Blonsky had finished his explanation, Greller demanded that Ross explain exactly what was going on with this mission, as Ross admitted that Banner had worked on a Biotech Project, with Greller had then questioned if all Ross' Super Soldier Projects were going haywire once again.
While Greller confronted Ross over his decisions, Ross claimed that what they were dealing with was a potentially dangerous weapon if placed into the wrong hands, noting that they currently had no idea what Banner's intentions with Hulk were. Considering this, Greller gave Ross his permission to continue with his Strategic Operations Command Center, noting that he would be under close scrutiny from this point onwards, as Ross and Blonsky had then left his office.
Following their meeting with Greller, Ross and Blonsky walked down the corridors as they discussed the situation, as Blonsky noted that during his career with the United States Armed Forces he had seen several missions going terribly wrong when he and his unit were not given the correct information and were unprepared, but nothing like he had witnessed in Brazil, as Ross had looked down at Blonsky for suggesting that the failure of the mission should rest of his head.
Blonsky informed Ross that if they were planning on going after Hulk again, then he wanted to be a part of that mission. However, Ross was told that if Blonsky was to be sent out again, then he and his unit should be fully briefed about what to expect while tracking Banner, as Blonsky noted that if their united was not prepared and they faced Hulk again, then a lot of professional soldiers would be terrified and they would inevitably lose Banner once again.
Creating a Super-Soldier
Ross later met with Emil Blonsky once again as Ross had decided to disclose highly classified intel to Blonsky, noting that this information was highly sensitive to the United States Armed Forces as well as to Ross personally. Ross then commented that the Armed Forces had started an weapons development program that was started in World War II, which Blonsky noted was the Super Soldier Serum which had created Captain America. Ross confirmed that this is what he meant, noting that Blonsky's wording was an oversimplification of the work they had done.
Ross explained that he had restarted this program, which had led to the creation of the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project, as he noted while Washington, D.C. was attempting to give all the soldiers better weaponry, he was trying to make the soldiers themselves better. With Blonsky clearly intrigued by this, Ross went on to explain how Bruce Banner's work with the project was in their early phases, and he had not known their intentions, believing it was for radiation resistance.
Ross then told Blonsky how Banner had been so certain about all his experiments with gamma radiation that he had tested it on himself, and something had gone terribly wrong, or very right depending on how he looked at it, resulting in the birth of Hulk. Ross noted that as far as he was concerned, Banner's entire body was the property of the Armed Forces. Blonsky had then questioned if Ross had been working to build weapons himself during all the experiments.
As Blonsky asked about what Ross was working on, he admitted that they had also developed his version of Abraham Erskine's serum that seemed highly promising for all their work. Blonsky then questioned why Banner had escaped from the United States of America to hide out in Brazil, to which Ross noted that Banner was simply a scientist and was not a soldier like them and therefore could never understand their motivations for these experiments in creating super soldiers.
Changing the subject, Ross had asked Blonsky about his age, which Blonsky said was thirty-nine, as Ross noted how advancing age took a toll on the body of a soldier, as Blonsky noted that he intended to be a soldier for as long as he could be. When Blonsky noted how he wished he could put all his experience into the body he had ten years earlier, then he would have become an extraordinary soldier, to which Ross had then noted that something like this could be arranged.
General Ross and Blonsky then came to an agreement and Blonsky accepted Ross's offer to be injected with an experimental version of the Super Soldier Serum that Ross had developed in order to match the strength of Captain America and be able to stand any chance at battling Hulk. Ross collected the Serum himself from a secure facility where the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project had previously been conducting their experiments, which had given Banner his powers.
Ross watched closely as Blonsky was injected with the Super Soldier Serum. Once their operation began, Ross had warned Blonsky that if anything went wrong then he would be taken off the team and would be kept in a hospital until he had recovered. The serum was injected directly in Blonsky's neck and spine, it caused him considerable pain but increased his strength and agility to superhuman levels, allowing him to rejoin the unit and assist Ross in hunting down Hulk.
While the search for Bruce Banner continued, Ross eventually gained intel from Leonard Samson that Banner was in Virginia, since he had reconnected with Betty Ross. Upon learning this, Ross gathered his unit back together, as they stormed into Culver University to capture Banner, who saw them coming at the last moment and fled to the building, as Ross demanded to know who had let themselves to be seen by him while Emil Blonsky gave chase, only for Ross to tell Blonsky to stand down.
As Ross' men charged into the building after Banner, Ross' armored truck was blocked by Betty, who then demanded that her father step out and speak to her. Eventually, Ross had stepped out and faced his daughter, who begged him not to attempt to capture Banner, only for Ross to then insist that she simply could not see the situation clearly. Before Ross could have his daughter removed, only of Ross' soldiers spotted Banner in an open corridor, where he became trapped.
Ross ordered his men not to engage, as they locked both the doors on either side before firing two gas canisters in the corridor with him. With the room filling with gas, Betty attempted to run to Banner's aid, before Ross had ordered his men to bring her back. However, when Banner witnessed Betty being captured, his rage took over as Ross witnessed his transformation into Hulk, while Ross witnessed the change, he commented to himself that Betty would understand.
As Hulk smashed his way free and roared at all the soldiers, Ross ordered his unit to give him all they had. Ross then watched on as his men fired their guns at Hulk, only for the bullets to simply bounce off his skin, as Ross then ordered their bigger guns to join the battle. However, this only resulted in Hulk furiously smashing through all the Humvees that came after him, proving that their standard soldiers did not stand a chance as Ross order Blonsky to join the battle.
Ross had then watched on with amazement as Blonsky's new found strength and speed allowed himself to fight Hulk single handedly, proving that the Super Soldier Serum had indeed worked. As Blonsky managed to gain Hulk's attention, Ross then ordered him to bring Hulk towards their Stark Sonic Cannons, which fired their sound waves that stopped Hulk in his tracks. However, Betty continued begging her father not to harm Hulk, as he had her removed.
Seeing Betty in distress once again focused on Hulk's attention, as he made a shield to block all the sound waves before destroying the Humvees. Seeing this, Ross ordered their gunship to assist them. However, before their gunship arrived, Ross then witnessed Blonsky challenge Hulk alone, as he ordered him to get back. Blonsky had ignored the order and stood up to Hulk, who proceeded to kick Blonsky across the field, breaking every bone in Blonsky's body.
Ross had ordered his men to get back as the gunship arrived, only to then realize too late that Betty had walked up to Hulk and was in the firing line. Before Ross could do anything, the gunship fired down at Hulk, who threw his shield at it, causing it to crash and engulf Betty and Hulk in a fireball. Ross then watched in horror while Hulk emerged from the flames with an unconscious Betty in his arms, as Hulk had furiously growled at Ross before he escaped.
Aftermath of the Battle
Following Hulk's escape, Ross and his unit had then gone to the home of Leonard Samson where they had searched for any possible evidence they could find about what Bruce Banner's plans might be. While he was there, Ross had spoken with Samson, claiming that he had done the right thing by calling him, before then asking where they were heading.
However, Samson noted that the military had put Betty Ross in more danger than Hulk during the battle at Culver University. Although Ross had still insisted that his daughter's safety was always his main concern, Samson claimed that he was lying to him before claiming to not know where they were going. As Ross noted that this meant that she was aiding a fugitive, Samson claimed to finally understand why Betty never talked about her father, as Ross then left the house.
In the wake of the battle, Ross went to a medical unit to check on the treatment of Emil Blonsky, as Ross had then asked a doctor whether or not Blonsky would ever walk again following being brutally kicked across the field by Hulk, while the doctor had explained that most of his bones basically crushed gravel, while the doctor commented that Blonsky's heart still refused to stop beating. Ross then looked at Blonsky in his hospital bed, shocked by the state that he was in.
Disappointed at the situation, Ross returned to the control room and smoked a cigar, until he was joined by Kathleen Sparr who updated him on the search for Banner. Ross had then noted that he knew that Sparr was still having flashbacks from their latest encounter with Hulk, as Sparr claimed that it was outside her training with the United States Armed Forces, noting that Hulk did not have any agendas that they could combat, as it was nothing but a force of pure rage.
Lost in his own thoughts, Ross quoted a great writer who claims that in the clefts of rocks you could see the back part of God and tremble. Ross then told Sparr that there was no training that could prepare her for an encounter with Hulk as this was a new kind of power never before faced. Ross had stated that such an event was incredibly rare and people always feared this kind of power and it was up to them to stop trembling and step toward to face off against that power.
Turning around, Ross told Sparr that they had faced the back part of God, and for the United States of America he had intended to put his harness around that incredible new power, while he then claimed that history would remember them fondly for this. Ross then offered Sparr a final chance to walk away from this fight, but she claimed that she would never forgive herself for surrendering to this battle and leaving someone else to do it, as they both agreed to continue the hunt.
Emil Blonsky's Return
In need of information about Hulk's movements, Ross obtained the World Security Council's permission to extract data from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s systems. A few hours later, Ross had been confronted by Nick Fury himself. Ross had told Fury that he was not going to leave the safety of the world in his hands. Despite the constant questioning from S.H.I.E.L.D., Ross remained clearly focused on his mission and continued to track down Banner, until Kathleen Sparr then pulled him away from his work with an update.
Much to Ross' surprise, Emil Blonsky managed to recover incredibly quickly from the wounds suffered in the battle with Hulk, with his bones all managing to repair themselves in a matter of hours due to the Super Soldier Serum. Ross asked Blonsky what he wanted to do now he was recovered, as he volunteered to under go the procedure again to increase his strength so that he might have another chance of fighting and even possibly defeating Hulk, as Ross agreed.
With Banner still on the run, Ross gathered the Strategic Operations Command Center together for the briefing on how they would track him down. However, despite Sparr noting how the FBI was assisting them in their search for Banner and Betty Ross by tracking their cell phones and credit cards, Ross got up and claimed Banner would not be foolish enough to use anything that could be tracked and that he was not trying to escape, but he would be attempting to find help.
Eventually, using the information that they had gained from their first encounter with Banner in Brazil, Sparr was able to track down his ally as Samuel Sterns who Banner was now attempting to meet at Culver University. Having gained a location on Banner, Ross agreed to allow Blonsky to be injected with more of the Super Soldier Serum, in order to make him strong enough to face Hulk again, as Ross stood by and closely watched their entire procedure on Blonsky's body.
Capturing Bruce Banner
With his team prepared for their mission, Ross rejoined them on the helicopter as they made their way to Grayburn College where Bruce Banner was attempting to cure himself of Hulk. Along the way, Ross listened as Kathleen Sparr briefed their team on how they would ambush Banner without actually engaging with him directly, only for Emil Blonsky to question what their plan was in case Banner was able to transform.
Hearing Blonsky's complaints, Ross then noted that if they failed to capture him without allowing him to transform, then they would have failed to learn from their previous mistakes, insisting that they needed to be ready to let him go. As Blonsky continued complaining, Sparr noted that the people of New York City would be in danger if Hulk was unleashed before questioning Blonsky's mental stability, only for Ross to then note that Blonsky may not be used in the field at all.
Upon arriving at Grayburn College, Ross remained in their armored van with Sparr while Blonsky led his team inside and the snipers took their positions, finding Banner in with Samuel Sterns while they were discussing the Gamma Radiation in his blood. However, once snipers lined up their shot on Banner, Blonsky disobeyed Ross' direct orders as he charged upstairs to personally attack him, finding Banner just as he was shot with a tranquilizer dart and knocked unconscious.
With Banner having finally been captured, Ross then watched on as he was taken outside by his men, strapped onto a bed to keep him from escaping. Since they had found evidence that both Banner and Sterns had just completed their experiment to remove Hulk from his body, Ross stood over Banner and calmly warned that if he had managed to destroy Hulk for good, then Ross would ensure that Banner would spend the rest of his life locked inside a prison cell.
While Banner was removed, Betty Ross left the College as Ross had attempted to speak with her. However, Betty insisted that she would never forgive her father for what he had done to Banner. Although he tried to argue that Banner was a fugitive, Betty instead insisted that it was Ross who had made Banner the fugitive to cover his failures and protect his own career in the United States Armed Forces, noting she did not consider him her father before she furiously walked away.
Inside their helicopter, Ross attempted to ignore Bruce Banner as he gently kissed Betty Ross' hands. However, just as they were leaving, Ross had gotten a call from his men on the ground, claiming that Hulk was causing chaos in New York City, much to Ross' confusion as he looked over at Banner in their helicopter. Hearing the soldier's panic, Ross ordered his pilot to turn the helicopter around.
As the soldiers turned on their body-cams, Ross then watched on in horror as the footage of the Abomination causing utter destruction in the streets was broadcast, as Banner realized that this Abomination was Emil Blonsky who had forced Samuel Sterns to expose his body to more of the Gamma Radiation, causing that transformation. Once the Abomination slaughtered his men, Ross tried to make a plan only for Banner to insist he be allowed to fight the Abomination himself.
While the skeptical Ross had listened closely, Banner claimed that he needed to be taken back so Hulk could battle the Abomination, believing he was the only one who stood a chance at defeating him. As Banner claimed that, while he could not fully control Hulk, he might be able to aim its rage at the correct target, which Ross then questioned. When Banner noted that all three of them had all created Hulk, Ross relented and ordered the pilot to land the helicopter.
However, Banner insisted that they keep the helicopter out of harm's way, telling Ross to open the back door as he prepared to jump out, unsure if he would even transform back into Hulk. Once Banner said his emotional goodbyes to Betty, Ross then watched as he fell from the helicopter and landed in the streets, getting back to his feet as Hulk and furiously challenging the Abomination to a fight. As the two began to fight, Ross kept a close watch over the battle.
Since it became clear that the Abomination was far stronger than Hulk, Ross ordered his gunner to begin shooting at the Abomination, hoping that this would help. However, this only proved to enrage the Abomination who was unaffected by the bullets and instead charged directly at the helicopter. Despite Hulk's best efforts to stop him, the Abomination then tore the helicopter from the air, which caused it to crash land, while both Ross and his daughter were still inside.
With their helicopter having crash landed, Ross and Betty found that they were the only survivors, as they painfully got back on their feet, finding that Hulk was still battling against the Abomination. As the Rosses attempted to leave before the Abomination could attack and kill them, their helicopter's fuel line burst into flames, which caused a massive fireball. However, Hulk had witnessed this and, using his powerful clap, managed to extinguish the flames, saving their lives.
With all the flames out, Ross was helped out of the helicopter by his daughter, only for them to suddenly be spotted by the Abomination, who was using a steel chain to beat Hulk into submission. Seeing the man who had helped transform him, the Abomination then began furiously swinging the chain around his head in an attempt to kill the General, only for Hulk to return to the fight to save them, causing a small Earthquake that had knocked the Abomination off his feet.
Using this brief distraction to his advantage, Hulk then wrapped the chain around the Abomination's throat, attempting to chock him to death. Ross and his daughter then watched on as Hulk beat the Abomination into submission, even tearing out one of his bones, as continued strangling him until Betty stepped forward and begged Hulk to stop. Seeing the woman he loved, Hulk then calmed down as he tossed the defeated Abomination to the feet of Ross.
With the Abomination finally defeated, the attention was then turned towards Hulk, as the United States Armed Forces surrounded the area, only for Ross to order them to lower their weapons, as he knew that he now owed Hulk a debt for saving their lives and defeating Abomination. As Hulk looked down at Betty, more helicopters arrived and lit up the area, Ross had then simply allowed Hulk to make his escape, making absolutely no effort to recapture him.
Talk with Tony Stark
In the aftermath of the battle and the humiliating defeat for Ross, the General drowned all his sorrows in bars, drinking and smoking. In order to try and save face, the World Security Council then informed S.H.I.E.L.D. that they wanted to make Emil Blonsky, who was currently in Ross' custody, part of the Avengers Initiative, blaming Hulk for the Harlem incident and keeping Blonsky's reputation intact.
S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Phil Coulson and Jasper Sitwell, with knowledge of the events, sent Tony Stark to speak to Ross about the Avengers Initiative, as their patsy to prevent Ross from letting Blonsky join the Avengers. Stark informed Ross that a team was being put together. The talk ended up with Stark annoying Ross so much that Ross then refused to release Blonsky and tried to have Stark removed from the bar. In reply, Stark bought the bar and scheduled it for demolition.
Secretary of State
Position in Government
- "Five years ago, I had a heart attack, and I dropped right in the middle of my backswing. Turned out it was the best round of my life because after thirteen hours of surgery and a triple bypass, I found something forty years in the army had never taught me. Perspective."
- ―Thaddeus Ross to the Avengers[src]
While playing golf, Ross suffered from a heart attack which resulted in thirteen hours of surgery and a triple bypass. By April 2016, General Ross was already retired from the United States Army. He was then swiftly appointed as the United States' Secretary of State by President Matthew Ellis, due to all of Ross' personal experience in dealing with the super-powered and highly dangerous individuals such as Hulk, as well as Abomination, throughout Ross' entire military career.
Once the United Nations of the world had begun to sought to impose greater accountability on the activities of super-heroes, including but not limited to the Avengers, due to all the devastating events in New York, Washington, D.C., Sokovia and Lagos, Ross took on an active role in trying to ensure the protection of the world from whom he had viewed as being super-powered vigilantes in the wake of their several battles. Ross oversaw the writing of their Sokovia Accords that would limit the actions undertaken by these super-powered individuals.
Accompanied by Tony Stark, Ross had visited the Avengers at their facility to present them with the Sokovia Accords. Ross explained that there were no disagreements among the world's governments about whether the Avengers should all be considered heroes or vigilantes as the unlimited power with which they have operated could no longer be tolerated since it was almost impossible to control.
To prove his point, Ross showed his video footage of the destruction caused by the Avengers during their Battle of New York, the Battle at the Triskelion, the devastating Ultron Offensive and the Attack on the IFID Headquarters, in which Wanda Maximoff had inadvertently sent the bomb activated by Crossbones in a building occupied by several civilians who had died. Seeing the effect that the footage was having on Maximoff, Steve Rogers had asked Ross to end the presentation.
Ross then explained that since the Battle of Sokovia in which the city of Novi Grad had been completely destroyed, and many people were killed, the United States would sign their Sokovia Accords in order to put the Avengers into line, explaining that many other countries were planning to do the same. Ross explained how these Accords meant that the Avengers would only operate under the direct supervision of the United Nations in order to keep them under their close watch.
While Rogers insisted they kept the world safe, Ross noted that they did not even know where Thor and Bruce Banner were, while James Rhodes had asked for more details about the contingency plans that were included with the Accords. As he left to give the Avengers some time to discuss their reactions to the Accords, Ross was then asked by Natasha Romanoff what would happen if they did not sign and he had simply explained that they would be forced to retire instead.
Captain America's Rebellion
However, when the United Nations had been suddenly attacked with a bomb during the peace meetings regarding the Sokovia Accords, it resulted in the deaths of several innocent people, including King T'Chaka of Wakanda, all seemingly due to the terrorist actions of the Winter Soldier, the assassin was quickly caught and arrested but soon escaped with the help of Captain America who believed that his former friend was not the one responsible for the bombing.
Furious with this, Secretary Ross met with Tony Stark to confront him and demand that he bring Rogers, Falcon and the Winter Soldier into justice. Upon hearing this, Natasha Romanoff questioned if Ross was willing to kill Captain America to catch the Winter Soldier, which Ross noted he was. Stark then promised he would take their fugitives into custody within seventy-two hours, although Ross had still remained somewhat skeptical and gave Stark just thirty-six hours to deliver Rogers and Barnes.
Arresting the Avengers
In the wake of the Clash of the Avengers, Ross captured the majority of Captain America's team and took them to the Raft where they had been thrown into individual cells. Tony Stark later flew to the Raft and was met by Ross, claiming that Helmut Zemo was to blame for the recent events, although Ross still remained furious about how bad the situation had become and then even threatened to have Stark arrested as well.
While Stark went to speak to their prisoners, Ross watched from the CCTV cameras as Stark was insulted by his former friends, with Clint Barton especially angry at the recent betrayal. While Stark had been speaking to Sam Wilson about the well being of James Rhodes who had been badly injured, the audio feeds were then suddenly cut out during their conversation, which Ross had blamed on their technical team before realizing that Stark was most likely to blame for it all.
Following his meeting with the Avengers, Stark had then prepared to leave the Raft. As Ross walked Stark back to his helicopter, he asked what Wilson told him about Steve Rogers and all his plans, although Stark claimed it was nothing since Wilson had told him to go to hell, noting he was heading back into their Avengers Compound before taking off and investigate their situation further. As he left, Stark told Ross to call him any time, promising he would put Ross on hold.
As his campaign against the Avengers continued, Ross had a second triple bypass surgery. Following the escape of Steve Rogers, Ross suspected that Natasha Romanoff had assisted him. Having spoken to T'Challa, before having a meeting with the World Security Council, where he and Pamela Hawley discussed Romanoff's history in depth. Ross and his S.W.A.T. team eventually tracked down Romanoff's tracker to a train station in Albany and moved in to arrest her.
However, once they were inside, Ross was called on the phone by Romanoff, as Ross told her to stop running from them as she was alone, since Clint Barton, Sam Wilson, and Scott Lang were currently in custody inside the Raft, while Rogers was on the run. However, Ross was then promptly hung up on and discovered that that Romanoff had tricked them with the tracker.
Manipulating Rick Mason
Seeking to arrest Natasha Romanoff, Ross chose to target her contacts, seeking out anyone who was likely to be offering her support, as he tracked down Rick Mason, putting pressure on him. Eventually, Ross unit cornered Mason in his hotel room, as they waited for Romanoff to contact him, as they watched their conversation closely, with Romanoff and Mason agreeing to meet at a specific location with a van.
Ross immediately sent his team to the location Romanoff had agreed to meet Mason at, as he took Mason with him to witness. Arriving at the location, Ross ordered that his men turn the place upside down as they searched for Romanoff. As they searched for Romanoff's tracker, Ross spoke with Mason, who asked Ross where he had served during his time in the United States Armed Forces, to which Ross insisted that he was still serving his country.
Irritated by this question, Ross noted that he did not sell his services to the highest bidder, which he believed Mason did, claiming that Mason had been attempting to build a false image of himself as a demonair smuggler for the black market. Ross had then warned that he would only give Mason five minutes to negotiate a plea deal for himself, which would only happen if he helped Ross to find a line on Romanoff.
However, before Mason could consider cooperating with him, Ross was then interrupted by one of his agents, who explained that they had been unable to locate Romanoff. Ross was then told by the agent that they had found Romanoff's phone inside the cafe, which had been cleared by the bomb squad, with a note from her to Ross, telling Ross to come after her, which featured the Black Widows' logo and no further information.
Natasha Romanoff's Surrender
Despite them having no leads on Natasha Romanoff's location for some time, eventually Ross was alerted to the fact that her tracker had been turned on unexpectedly. As a result, Ross led his unit to track down and arrest Romanoff at her location, where they found her in the middle of a field, surrounded by destruction.
As Ross' men surrounded by, Romanoff took off her Widow's Bites and got onto her knees with her placed hands behind her head. Ross then stepped forward to personally confront Romanoff, as she got back onto her feet and lowered her hands, with Ross questioning what had happened there. As Romanoff claimed that this was the end of the Red Room, Ross insisted that the Red Room died during the Cold War, only for Romanoff to point to the burning Red Room Academy crashing to the ground behind them, with Romanoff noting that she had also believed they had been gone.
With that, Ross and his unit then escorted Romanoff into their truck to bring her into the Raft where she would be incarcerated with the Avengers. As Ross and his squad of Humvees drove away, Ross spoke to Romanoff from the front seat, noting that if the Red Room had still been active, he could not imagine how much damage they and General Dreykov could have done, before Romanoff had managed to take them down on her own.
Although Romanoff claimed to have had some help, she then insisted that she had acted alone when Ross pressed her to learn who helped her. Ross then noted that he believed it was impossible to know who Romanoff really was, calling her a turncoat assassin, who saved the world, despite the world wanting to lock her up for betraying the Sokovia Accords. As Ross noted that it was impossible to know whose side she was on, Romanoff noted that they had that in common.
Ross noted that there was an old saying, she could not go home again, only for him to notice that Romanoff had not responded. As Ross turned down, he realized that Romanoff had and escaped. Ross would later learn that Romanoff had rejoined Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson to live as fugitives, with Ross continuing to hunt them down. When the prisoners on the Raft were freed by Rogers, Ross contacted Tony Stark for help, only for Stark to fulfil his earlier promises and then put Ross on hold and to ignore him.
Because of the strain the events of the Clash of the Avengers put on their own families, Scott Lang and Clint Barton both took deals from Ross that ended up with them being under house arrest, while the others involved with siding with Captain America during their clash still remained at large, despite Ross and his men continuing to hunt them down with the intention of finally bring them all to justice.
With the arrival of Thanos' Q-Ships into New York City, as well as the sudden disappearance of Vision, Ross contacted James Rhodes at the Avengers Compound when it was found that Vision was rescued by three wanted criminals, Captain America, Black Widow, as well as Falcon. When he and Rhodes had discussed Vision's disappearance, with Rhodes claiming that their former allies had only become known as criminals because of Ross, which Ross had merely scoffed at.
As Ross and Rhodes talked, Rhodes noted that he had some second thoughts about Accords, before revealing that Captain America and his team had arrived with Vision and Wanda Maximoff. Upon seeing their arrival, Ross confronted Rogers who claimed they were there to assist after Tony Stark had vanished. Ross then ordered Rhodes to arrest the fugitives, but Rhodes instead terminated their connection, which earned him Ross' anger and a court-martial as a result.
Despite the Avengers' best efforts, Thanos managed to obtain all six of the Infinity Stones and caused the Snap, which killed Ross among trillions of others, including Ross' daughter. However, in five years following the Snap, Hulk then caused the Blip and resurrected them. Ross had later attended the funeral of Tony Stark, who had given his life to defeat Thanos, with Ross standing beside Maria Hill, while they had watched Stark's Arc Reactor being set adrift into the lake.
Decisive and ruthless, Thaddeus Ross is an objective man and his main one is to defend the United States of America by advancing the military, often by unconventional means such as a super-soldier project modified from a similar experiment from World War II. However, Ross is largely motivated by his own personal feelings and his vendetta against Hulk. He can be single-minded and shows an inability to learn from his mistakes as his main priority is to defend the United States, and although having witnessed the destructive capabilities of Hulk as well as injuring him, his daughter and murdering several doctors while being unleashed the first time, he still planned to replicate Banner's gamma radiation to continue the Super Soldier Program he was working on.
Ross can also be a hypocrite: though he loves Betty dearly, he has destroyed his relationship with her due to hunting down the man she loves as a fugitive and the fact that he was the one who made him a fugitive in the first place. He blames Bruce Banner for injuring Betty, even though he wasn't in control of his actions at the time when he was Hulk and instead of helping him cure his gamma radiation, which Ross was partly responsible for in the first place, he planned to imprison him forever instead. Ross' methods of defense, and if the needed offense, are amounted to a very "fight fire with fire" sense. His plans to combat with Hulk was injecting his top soldier, Emil Blonsky with a Super Soldier Serum. Similarly, when Blonsky mutated himself into Abomination and began causing havoc across Harlem, he ordered his men to assist Hulk, believing he was the only one who could match him in a battle.
Despite having a personal incentive to kill Banner, Ross is not without reason to be concerned regarding individuals with near-unlimited power. Having continuously witnessed the casualties and destruction of several incidents regarding powerful super-humans, such as the Battle of Sokovia, events that happened without supervision or jurisdiction from the government which caused the Avengers to run freely, he began viewing the Avengers as loose cannons, and that the Sokovia Accords which would keep them on constant government watch was best for the world, although this would later spark a civil war. Even after Helmut Zemo was revealed to be the true culprit behind the Bombing of the Vienna International Centre, he still called Captain America and the other rogue Avengers fugitives and ordered their arrest, thus earning him the anger of James Rhodes, who had once respected him, that the latter chose to cut Ross off and disobey the Accords during the Infinity War.
However, Ross wasn't entirely without reason; he had enough empathy for Scott Lang and Clint Barton and their families to agree to not put the two back in the Raft and instead place them in house-arrest, likely not wishing them to have a similar situation to him and his daughter. When Tony Stark, his most trusted ally during the Avengers Civil War, had to give up his life to kill Thanos and his forces, thus saving millions of lives and the entire universe, Ross was shown to grieve Stark enough to attend his funeral along with the Avengers to pay his condolences, demonstrating that his hatred towards the Earth's Mightiest Heroes is gone or at least somewhat diminished.
- Master Tactician: As a general, he is in a leadership position in the military and trained to command people. Ross coordinated his unit on how to attack Hulk without being present personally. He also knows how to find allies to help his cause who can provide the right equipment and personnel. Ross knows when to change tactics based on the situation; he made Bruce Banner, a perceived foe, an ally for him to battle Emil Blonsky.
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- Super Soldier Serum: To be added
- Uniform: Ross uses two different uniforms, the Army Service Dress uniform, and the utility uniform.
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- Humvee: To be added
- Helicopter: To be added
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- Pentagon: To be added
- Fort Johnson: To be added
- United States Department of State Headquarters: To be added
- Joint Counter Terrorist Centre Building: To be added
- Raft: To be added
|Appearances for Thaddeus Ross|
In chronological order:
- In the comics, Thaddeus Ross was the nephew of Jeffrey Mace and a General in the United States Air Force who eventually becomes a Hulk himself called Red Hulk.
Behind the Scenes
- Thaddeus Ross in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the second live-action incarnation of the character, following an incarnation portrayed by Sam Elliott.
- Duncan McLeod was a stunt double for William Hurt in the role of Thaddeus Ross.
- Steven F Thompson was a stand-in and photo double for William Hurt in the role of Thaddeus Ross.
- Bryan Cranston was initially considered to be recast as Thaddeus Ross in Captain America: Civil War in case William Hurt refused to reprise the role as shown in early concept art.
- Thaddeus Ross' alter ego Red Hulk was early considered to make an appearance in Captain America: Civil War, but according to Joe Russo, the idea was dropped as they already had the film crowded of characters and they had to include a backstory which didn't fill into the film's narrative. However, he doesn't discard the possibility of using Red Hulk in further installments.
- The Incredible Hulk
- The Incredible Hulk Deleted Scene
- Iron Man 2: Public Identity
- Captain America: Civil War
- The Incredible Hulk Movie Novelization
- The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week
- Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant
- WHiH Newsfront: 2.01: AVENGERS IMPACT: A WHIH Newsfront Special Report
- WHiH Newsfront: 2.04: WHIH Newsfront Exclusive: President Ellis Discusses the Avengers
- Black Widow
- Black Widow Prelude
- Black Widow Deleted Scene
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Avengers: Endgame script by Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus
- Avengers: Endgame
- Red Hulk And Iron Spider Were Considered For Captain America: Civil War