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"Tell me, Captain, do you know where Thor and Banner are right now? If I misplaced a couple of thirty megaton nukes, you can bet there'd be consequences. Compromise. Reassurance. That's how the world works."
―Thaddeus Ross to Captain America[src]

Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross is a former Lieutenant General of the United States Army. During his career, he was put in charge of the military project called the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project, aiming to recreate the Super Soldier Serum. However, the experiment led to an accident which transformed the scientist Bruce Banner into Hulk. After a long hunt, Banner was captured, only for Ross' subordinate officer Emil Blonsky to transform into the monstrous Abomination. In the face of these odds, Ross was forced to accept Hulk as an ally and allow him to escape after the fight in New York City.

Five years after that incident, Ross left the Army and started serving 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. When Captain America publicly disowned the accords and went on the run with the Winter Soldier, Ross ordered Iron Man to bring Captain America into custody. Ross arrested many of the Avengers and locked them up in the Raft, but when Captain America learned that Helmut Zemo was to blame for the devastation, he freed the prisoners, much to Ross' ire, who tried contacting Stark only to be put on hold by the latter, angering him even more.

Ross later struck a deal with Scott Lang and Clint Barton, placing the heroes under house arrest. Learning of Vision's absence from the New Avengers Facility, Ross contacted James Rhodes, and discovering that Captain America and the fugitive Avengers had returned, promptly ordered Rhodes to arrest Rogers, who ended the call, earning Rhodes a court martial and Ross's fury.

In 2023, Ross was among those who attended Stark’s funeral, after he gave his life in the Battle of Earth.

Biography

Early Life

Raising a Daughter

"Her safety is my main concern at this point."
―Thaddeus Ross to Leonard Samson[src]

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 participated in the Vietnam War. Throughout his years in the military, Ross rose through the ranks until he became a three-star general, and also had a daughter by the name of Elizabeth, who had eventually gone by the nickname of Betty, although Ross and his daughter had still continued to have a highly tense relationship throughout her life.[1]

Recreating the Super-Soldier

"Let me emphasize that what I'm about to share with you is tremendously sensitive, both to me personally and the Army. You're aware that we've got an Infantry Weapons Development program. In WWII, they initiated a sub-program for Bio-Tech Force Enhancement."
"Yeah, Super Soldier."
"Yes. An oversimplification, but yes. And I dusted it off, got 'em doing serious work again."
―Thaddeus Ross and Emil Blonsky[src]

Thaddeus Ross had also involved with an Army research and development program intended to recreate the Super Soldier Serum first developed in World War II. The project was known as the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project. In the beginning of the scheme, the military had been using captured terrorists of Al-Haquid to test out various serums. However, pictures of the project came out and the United States Congress killed it.[1]

Creating the Hulk

Hulk attacks Ross

Ross sees Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk

"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 got 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 render soldiers immune to gamma radiation. Involved from early phase research, Banner conducted a test on himself dealing with gamma radiation, instead of vita radiation, confident it would work.

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Ross protecting Betty Ross from the Hulk

However, as the experiment went ahead, Ross witnessed something going terribly wrong as Banner was struck by the gamma radiation, causing an explosion. Following the blast, Banner was transformed into the Hulk, a giant and amazingly strong brute fueled by rage who fled after injuring Betty Ross, leaving her in a coma as well as killing another of the scientists along with two soldiers of the United States Army and crushing General Ross' arm during the ensuing fight.

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Ross furiously confronting Bruce Banner

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.

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Ross ordering Bruce Banner to be captured

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.[2]

Meeting Tony Stark

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Ross returns to his work as General

"I know you've been distancing yourself from your father's legacy; you claim you're no longer a weapons maker; but now you are the weapon!"
―Thaddeus Ross to Tony Stark[src]

Five years after the "Hulk incident", as Tony Stark had been poisoned from his Arc Reactor palladium core, Senator Stern had called Ross. Together they worked with Justin Hammer who presented to James Rhodes and Ross the Aerodynamic Marvel, which he considered to be the next step on close-quarter combat with protection and attack capabilities.[3]

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Ross continues searching for Bruce Banner

As the machine was shot down during testing and Iron Man was sent to clean up. Once Stark saved the pilot, Ross ordered him to land on Cairo's West Air Base immediately. Ross met with Stark told him that they picked up on a shoot out with the Congolese Army and Stark did not return fire. Ross claimed that by not making weapons, Stark was distancing himself from his father. Stark warned that if innocent lives were put into harm's way there would be consequences.[3]

Chase of Bruce Banner

Building an Elite Team

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Ross getting his updates from Kathleen Sparr

"Your target is a fugitive from the U.S. government who stole military secrets. He is also 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 an 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.

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Ross learns of Bruce Banner's whereabouts

Having finally gained his first lead on Banner's location in years, Ross had immediately began 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, near 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.

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Ross and Joe Greller building his military unit

Believing that he was quickly closing in on capturing Banner at long last, Ross had began 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 Janeriro.

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Ross briefing his military unit on Bruce Banner

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.[2]

Encounter in Brazil

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Ross watches Emil Blonsky's team's actions

"That was Banner. It was Banner."
"You have to explain that statement, sir."
"No, I don't. You've done a good job. Pack up and get our men on a plane. We're going home."
―Thaddeus Ross and Emil Blonsky[src]

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.

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Ross finally catches back up to Bruce Banner

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.

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Ross witnesses Banner turning into the Hulk

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 the Hulk, brutally dispatching the thugs who were trying to beat him up, as Ross ordered them to shoot at the Hulk.

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Ross watches as the Hulk escapes him again

However, their team were incredibly unprepared for an encounter with the 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 the 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.

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Ross and Blonsky regroup at Banner's home

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.

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Ross is asked about Bruce Banner's power

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 the Hulk, with Blonsky insisting that their team had been attacked by something huge which was protecting Banner, furiously explaining how the Hulk had thrown a forklift truck directly at him.

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Ross considers losing Bruce Banner yet again

Ross then spoke up, telling Blonsky that the Hulk was gone, and that it was Banner. As Blonsky had asked Ross to explain this statement, Ross refused to go into anymore detail about how Banner had been able to transform himself into the 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.[2]

Mission Aftermath

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Ross looks over the reports on Bruce Banner

"He wants to neutralize whatever powers the transformation."
"That's not a good thing."
"No, it's not a good thing, Major. But I don't want Banner anyway. God damn it! I want what's inside of him!"
―Thaddeus Ross and Kathleen Sparr[src]

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.

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Ross furiously explaining his need for the Hulk

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 the 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 the 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.

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Ross briefly locking eyes with Emil Blonsky

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 the Hulk, as Ross and Blonsky looked at each other before Ross simply walked away without either saying a word to the other.[4]

Updating General Greller

GeneralRoss-DeletedScene-GrellerMeeting3

Ross explains the new situation to Joe Greller

"Joe, what we are talking about here is something that could be an incredibly dangerous weapon in the wrong hands, and we don't know what his intentions are."
"Put together a new list, but be prepared to explain everything on it."
―Thaddeus Ross and Joe Greller[src]

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 the Hulk and killed their men. Unsurprisingly, Greller was unconvinced by the story, although Ross insisted that he was being serious.

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Ross bringing Emil Blonsky into their meeting

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 the 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.

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Ross requests a chance to find Bruce Banner

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 the 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.[4]

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Ross and Emil Blonsky discussing the Hulk

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.

TRossDebriefingBlonsky-Hallway

Ross listening to all Emil Blonsky's arguments

Blonsky informed Ross that if they were planning on going after the 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 the Hulk again, then a lot of professional soldiers would be terrified and they would inevitably lose Banner once again.[2]

Creating a Super-Soldier

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Ross having his discussion with Emil Blonsky

"We're giving you a very low dose only. I need you sharp out there and disciplined. First sign of any side effect, we stop and you're off team until you straighten out. Agreed?"
―Thaddeus Ross and Emil Blonsky[src]

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.

GeneralRoss-Blonsky-SoldierChat

Ross and Blonsky discuss the Super Soldiers

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 know their intentions, believing it was for radiation resistance.

General Ross

Ross explains Bruce Banner's previous work

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 the Hulk. Ross noted that as far as he was concerned, Banner's entire body was now property of the Armed Forces. Blonsky had then questioned if Ross had been working to build weapons himself during all the experiments.

GeneralRoss-Blonsky-SuperSoldierChat

Ross questioning Emil Blonsky's career path

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.

GeneralRossGivingEBlonskyAnOffer

Ross offering to make Emil Blonsky stronger

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.

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Ross collecting the new Super Soldier Serum

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.

GeneralRoss-WatchesOperation

Ross watches over Emil Blonsky's experiment

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.[2]

Battle at Culver University

Ross and Sparr

Ross leads another ambush on Bruce Banner

"Alpha team, let him have all of it."
―Thaddeus Ross[src]

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.

RossFamilyStandOff

Ross ordering Betty Ross to be taken away

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.

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Ross watches Bruce Banner's transformation

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 the Hulk, while Ross witnessed the change, he commented to himself that Betty would understand.

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Ross ordering his soldiers to shoot at the Hulk

As the 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 the 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 the 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.

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Ross ordering Emil Blonsky to battle the Hulk

Ross had then watched on with amazement as Blonsky's new found strength and speed allowed himself to fight the Hulk single handedly, proving that the Super Soldier Serum had indeed worked. As Blonsky managed to gain the Hulk's attention, Ross then ordered him to bring the Hulk towards their Stark Sonic Cannons, which fired their sound waves that stopped the Hulk in his tracks. However, Betty continued begging her father not to harm the Hulk, as he had her removed.

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Ross witnesses the Hulk cripple Emil Blonsky

Seeing Betty in distress had again focused to the Hulk's attention, as he then 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 the Hulk alone, as he ordered him to get back. Blonsky had ignored the ordered and stood up to the Hulk, who proceeded to kick Blonsky across the field, breaking every bone in Blonsky's body.

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Ross watches as the Hulk manages to escape

Ross had ordered his men to get back as the gunship arrived, only to then realize too late that Betty had walked up to the Hulk and was in the firing line. Before Ross could do anything, the gunship fired down at the Hulk, who threw his shield at it, causing it to crash and engulf Betty and the Hulk in a fireball. Ross then watched in horror while the Hulk emerged from the flames with an unconscious Betty in his arms, as the Hulk had furiously growled at Ross before he escaped.[2]

Aftermath of the Battle

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Ross asking Leonard Samson for information

"We have glimpsed the back part of God and for our nation, and for our way of life I intend to put a harness around it, and history will say that here, at this moment, we confronted our fear."
―Thaddeus Ross to Kathleen Sparr[src]

Following the 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.

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Ross getting insulted by Leonard Samson

However, Samson noted that the military had put Betty Ross in more danger than the 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.

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Ross looking at Emil Blonsky in the hospital

In the wake of the battle, Ross went to a medical unit to check on the treatment of Emil Blonsky, as Ross had asked a doctor whether or not Blonsky would ever walk again following being brutally kicked across a field by the Hulk, while the doctor had then explained that most of his bones basically crushed gravel, although 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.[2]

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Ross gets his updates from Kathleen Sparr

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 the Hulk, as Sparr claimed that it was outside her training with the United States Armed Forces, noting that the Hulk did not have any agendas that they could combat, as it was nothing but a force of pure rage.

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Ross discusses the Hulk's incredible powers

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 the 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.

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Ross and Kathleen Sparr agree to not give up

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.[4]

Round Three

Emil Blonsky's Return

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Ross attempting to track down Bruce Banner

"Good to see you back on your feet, soldier."
"Thank you, Sir."
"How do you feel?"
"Pissed off and ready for round three."
―Thaddeus Ross and Emil Blonsky[src]

In need of new 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.[5] 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.

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Ross learning of Emil Blonsky's swift recovery

Much to Ross' surprise, Emil Blonsky managed to recover incredibly quickly from the wounds suffered in the battle with the 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 the Hulk, as Ross agreed.

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Ross giving his briefing about Bruce Banner

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 were 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.

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Ross watches Emil Blonsky's next procedure

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 the Hulk again, as Ross stood by and closely watched their entire procedure on Blonsky's body.[2]

Capturing Bruce Banner

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Ross with the captured Bruce Banner

"If you've taken it from me, I'm going to put you in a hole for the rest of your life."
―Thaddeus Ross to Bruce Banner[src]

General Ross managed to track Bruce Banner's accomplice and has his lab taken into custody by the Army, with his team being led by Emil Blonsky. Ross discovered Banner's and Betty Ross' whereabouts, had Banner shot with a tranquilizer rifle and captured, taking them both into custody in a helicopter. When Ross learned that Banner had tried and seemingly succeeded in destroyed Hulk from inside him, Ross warned Banner that if he had indeed killed Hulk, then he would ensure Banner spent the rest of his life in prison.

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Ross learns of Abomination's attack

Unknown to Ross, Blonsky went to Samuel Sterns' lab, attacking Kathleen Sparr and forcing Sterns to inject him with Banner's DNA, which reacted with the Super Soldier Serum and transformed him into the Abomination. Abomination caused terrible destruction across Harlem and attacked the soldiers who Ross had left on the street. Ross was informed of this attack, which was mistaken for Hulk, and witnessed Abomination calling Ross to bring him a real fight, hinting he intended to fight and kill Hulk.

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Ross reluctantly allows Banner to help

Having also witnessed the footage, Banner volunteered to leap out of the helicopter and fight Abomination, despite there being a strong risk that he would not transform and would simply be killed by the fall. Despite his many fears as to the results of this decision, Ross reluctantly agreed and Banner successfully survived the fall and transformed into Hulk once again, challenging Abomination to a fight while the innocent people ran for their lives.[2]

Duel of Harlem

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Ross' soldiers shoot at Abomination

"Use that thing, soldier. Give him some help!"
"Which one?"
"Help the green one, damn it! Which one do you think? Cut the other one in half!"
―Thaddeus Ross and Gunner[src]

While General Ross watched the battle from his helicopter, when Abomination seemed to be gaining an advantage against Hulk during the fight, Ross ordered his gunman to shoot at Abomination and protect Hulk. Blonsky responded by chasing and grabbing the helicopter in mid-air, dragging it down and causing it to crash land in the city despite Hulk trying to save it.

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Ross manages to survive a helicopter crash

Only Ross and his daughter survived the crash, as both were saved by having other soldiers using their bodies to shield them from the impact. As Betty attempted to move her badly injured father out of the wreckage, the Helicopter caught fire due to leaking fuel, Hulk clapped his hands together, blowing out the flames, saving Betty and the General's lives while he continued to battle Abomination, who desired to kill the General due to his mutation.

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Ross allows Hulk to escape

The pair's lives were put in danger again when Abomination attempted to destroy the helicopter, but their lives were saved once again when Hulk strangled Abomination nearly to death. Betty Ross was able to convince Hulk not to kill Abomination and instead he left him unable to move, with the battle over, Ross silently ordered his men not to shoot Hulk. At the end of the battle, Ross took Blonsky into custody and allowed Banner to disappear.[2]

Talk with Tony Stark

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Ross drinks and smokes in a bar

"You always wear such nice suits."
"Touché. I hear you have an unusual problem."
"You should talk."
"You should listen."
"What if I told you we were putting a team together?"
―Thaddeus Ross and Tony Stark[src]

In the aftermath of the battle and the humiliating defeat for Ross, the General drowned his sorrows in bars, drinking and smoking. To try and save face, the World Security Council informed S.H.I.E.L.D. that they wanted to make Emil Blonsky, now in Ross' custody, part of the Avengers Initiative, blaming Banner for the Harlem incident and keeping Blonsky's reputation intact.

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Ross talks to Tony Stark in a bar

S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Phil Coulson and Jasper Sitwell, with better knowledge of the events, decided to send Stark to talk to Ross about the Avengers Initiative, as a 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 refused to release Blonsky and tried to have Stark removed from the bar. In reply, Stark bought the bar and scheduled it for demolition.[6]

Secretary of State

The New Position

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Ross is instated as the Secretary of State.

"Five years ago I had a heart attack, and 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 a heart attack which resulted in 13 hours of surgery and a triple bypass.[7] As a result, in April 2016, after forty years of service, General Ross announced his retirement from the United States Army.[8] He was then swiftly appointed as the United States' Secretary of State by President Matthew Ellis due to all his experience in dealing with super-powered and highly dangerous individuals such as Hulk as well as Abomination during his long career.[9]

WHiH President and Ross

President Matthew Ellis comments on Ross

As 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 Nigeria, 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 the Sokovia Accords that would limit the actions undertaken by super-powered individuals.[7]

Sokovia Accords

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Ross having his meeting with all the Avengers

"For the past four years, you've operated with unlimited power and no supervision. That's an arrangement the governments of the world can no longer tolerate. But I think we have a solution. The Sokovia Accords."
―Thaddeus Ross to the Avengers[src]

Accompanied by Tony Stark, Ross had visited the Avengers at their facility to present them with the Sokovia Accords. He explained that there was now a disagreement 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.

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Ross showing off the footage of destruction

To prove his point, Ross showed his video footage of the destruction caused by the Avengers during the Battle of New York, the Battle at the Triskelion, the devastating Ultron Offensive and the Attack on the IFID Headquarters, during which Scarlet Witch 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 asked Ross to end the presentation.

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Ross offers the Avengers their final ultimatum

Ross then explained that since the Battle of Sokovia in which the city of Novi Grad had been completely destroyed and many people had been killed, the Avengers would now be forced to sign their Sokovia Accords in order to be put in line, explaining that many countries had also signed, which had included Wakanda. As he left, Ross was then asked by Natasha Romanoff what would happen if they did not sign and he had explained that they would be forced to retire instead.[7]

Captain America's Rebellion

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Secretary Ross arrives to confront Tony Stark

"Barnes would have been eliminated in Romania if it wasn't for Rogers. There are dead people who would be alive now. Feel free to check my math."
―Thaddeus Ross to Tony Stark[src]

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.

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Ross orders the arrest of Captain America

Furious at 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.[7]

Arresting the Avengers

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Ross greeting and threatening Tony Stark

"You seriously think I'm going to listen to you after that fiasco in Leipzig? You're lucky you're not in one of these cells."
―Thaddeus Ross to Tony Stark[src]

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 were 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 remained furious about how bad the situation had become and then even threatened to have Stark arrested as well.

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Ross watches Tony Stark talk to Sam Wilson

While Stark went to speak to the prisoners, Ross watched from the CCTV cameras as Stark was insulted by his former friends, with Clint Barton especially angry at the betrayal. While Stark was speaking to Sam Wilson about the well being of James Rhodes who had been badly injured, the audio feed was then suddenly cut out during their conversation, which Ross had blamed on his technical team before realizing that Stark was most likely to blame for it all.

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Ross watches Tony Stark as leaves the Raft

Ross later walked Stark back to his helicopter to ask what Wilson had told him about Steve Rogers, although Stark claimed it was nothing and that he was heading back to the New Avengers Facility before taking off and investigate the situation further. Later, all the prisoners were freed by Captain America and Ross contacted Stark to inform him of this, only for Stark to fulfill his earlier promise and put him on hold and ignore him, much to Ross' annoyance.[7]

Vision's Disappearance

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Ross continues working at his main office

"The world's on fire, and you think all's forgiven?"
"I'm not looking for forgiveness. And I'm way past asking for permission. Earth just lost her best defender. So we're here to fight. And if you wanna stay in our way... we'll fight you, too."
―Thaddeus Ross and Steve Rogers[src]

Because of the strain the events of the Clash of the Avengers had put onto their own families, Scott Lang and Clint Barton took deals from Ross that ended up with them being under house arrest, while the others involved with siding with Captain America had still remained at large despite Ross continuing to hunt them down with the intention of finally bring them to justice.

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Ross confronting the rest of the Avengers

With the arrival of Thanos's Q-Ships in New York City, as well as the sudden disappearance of Vision, Ross contacted James Rhodes at the New Avengers Facility when it was found that Vision was rescued by three wanted criminals, Captain America, Black Widow, as well as the Falcon. As Ross and Rhodes had talked, Captain America and his team arrived with Vision and Scarlet Witch. Ross ordered Rhodes to arrest them but Rhodes terminated the connection which earned him Ross' anger and a court-martial as a direct result.[10]

Tony Stark's Funeral

Five years later, following the defeat of Thanos and the Black Order and the revival of all those who perished during the Snap, including his daughter,[11] Ross was one of the many people to attend Tony Stark's funeral, who had given his life to kill Thanos and his army.[12]

Personality

"You know they're only criminals because you chose them to call them that, right, sir?"
"God, Rhodes. Your talent for horse-shit rivals my own."
James Rhodes and Thaddeus Ross[src]

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 the 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 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 got a court martial when he chose to cut Ross off and disobey the Accords during the Infinity War.

However, Ross wasn't entirely without reason, as he had enough empathy for Scott Lang and Clint Barton and their families to agree to not put them back in the Raft and instead place them in house-arrest. 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 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 decreased a little.

Abilities

  • Master Tactician: Ross is 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.

Equipment

  • Uniform: Ross uses two different uniforms, the Army Service Dress uniform, and the utility uniform.

Facilities

"So, you know that if you break the agreement, the law states I have to turn you over to Secretary Ross, and he won't hesitate to detain you on the Raft for the foreseeable future."
Jeffrey Mace to Yo-Yo Rodriguez[src]

Relationships

Family

Allies

Enemies

Appearances

Appearances for Thaddeus Ross

In chronological order:

Trivia

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.
    • Interestingly, before the release William Hurt was cast, Elliott expressed interest in reprising his role as Ross from Ang Lee's Hulk film although that film isn't in continuity with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Elliott ended up giving Hurt his blessing and enjoyed the film.[13]
  • Duncan McLeod was a stunt 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.[14]
  • 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.[15]

References

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe wiki has a collection of images and media related to Thaddeus Ross.
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