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 which forced Ross 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.
Raising a Daughter
A young Thaddeus Ross returned to the United States of America at the age of 27, having joined the United States Army and participated in the Vietnam War. Over the years he rose to the rank of a three-star general, and also had a daughter named Elizabeth, who eventually went by the nickname Betty.
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
Thaddeus Ross was involved in 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.
Creating 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 he was working on radiation resistance. I would never have told him what the project really was."
- ―Thaddeus Ross to Emil Blonsky
General Ross got an agreement with the scientist Bruce Banner, his daughter's fiancé, for working on a government project to render soldiers immune to gamma radiation, under the guise of being part of the weapon development project. Involved in early phase research, Banner conducted a test on himself dealing with gamma radiation, instead of Vita radiation, confident that it would work.
However, after an accidental explosion, became the "Hulk", a giant and amazingly strong brute who fled after injuring Betty, 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. When Banner returned to visit Betty in the hospital, General Ross was furious and threw out Banner, causing Banner to have to go on the run from the General.
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", when Tony Stark got poisoned from his Arc Reactor palladium core, Senator Stern 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.
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.
Building an Elite Team
- "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
Later, Ross received intel that a man had received gamma poisoning after drinking a bottle of Pingo Doce. Knowing this must have been caused by Banner, he began a frantic search, tracking down the factory that produced the soda in Rocinha, near Rio de Janeiro and ordered his soldiers and contacts to look for a white man working in the factory.
Believing that he was quickly closing in on capturing Banner, Ross began putting together a special unit of highly trained soldiers with the sole purpose of locating and capturing Banner. With the help of Joe Greller, Ross not only put together a team of some of the best soldiers he could find, but he also managed to hire one of the best operatives at his disposal, Emil Blonsky, and sent them to the village of Rio de Janeriro.
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, not telling them of the risks involved with the mission.
Encounter in Brazil
During the attack, Ross stayed close and gave orders to the soldiers from within a secure van with Kathleen Sparr. Banner was alerted to the danger and managed to escape and began to run, with Blonsky giving chase. At one point Banner ran past Ross's armored van, Ross stepped out and looked Banner in the eyes before Banner continued to run and Ross' Unit continued to give chase.
Banner continued to run until he became cornered in the Pingo Doce factory and transformed into Hulk due to a mugging. Hulk quickly defeated the soldiers, despite Blonsky personally attempting to defeat him. When Blonsky fired his weapon at Hulk, he was forced to flee when Hulk threw a fork-lift at him and escaped, Ross screamed "No" as he watched Hulk smash through a wall and escape but was unable to stop his target from running free.
When Blonsky returned for debrief at Banner's Apartment, he was furious at Ross for not telling him that Banner had backup of a monster as several of his men had been killed. Ross reluctantly explained that the beast they had encountered was in fact Banner himself, but when Blonsky demanded further explanation, Ross refused and ordered him and his men to return to the United States of America before they could ask further questions.
Creating a Super-Soldier
- "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
When they returned to the USA, Ross told Emil Blonsky exactly how Bruce Banner became Hulk. They discussed the Super Soldier Program from World War II, Blonsky expressed interest in having another chance to fight Hulk and claimed that he wished that he could have the body he had ten years ago along with the mind he has now. Ross claimed he could arrange something like that for him.
General Ross and Blonsky came to an agreement and Blonsky accepted Ross's offer to be injected with an experimental version of the Super Soldier Serum in order to match Captain America's strength and be able to stand a chance at battling Hulk. Ross collected the Serum himself from a secure facility where the Bio-Tech Force Enhancement Project was previously conducted, which had given Banner his powers.
Ross watched closely as Blonsky was injected with the Super Soldier Serum. Ross 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 into his 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.
- "Alpha team, let him have all of it."
- ―Thaddeus Ross
When Leonard Samson, Betty Ross's new boyfriend, warned Ross that Bruce Banner had returned to Virginia. Ross seized the chance and his forces, super-powered Emil Blonsky included, attacked at Culver University in an attempt to capture Banner. Ross used all his men and his new weapons created by Stark Industries and caused a major battle with Banner, who had transformed into Hulk. Betty Ross screamed at her father but he refused to listen to listen to her.
Eventually, Ross sent Blonsky to attack Hulk single-handed. After a brief battle, Blonsky was able to lead the furious Hulk to the Stark Sonic Cannon where they came close to defeating Hulk until he broke free and destroyed the Cannons. Despite Ross' orders, Blonsky continued to engage Hulk alone and, although he was able to hold his own against the beast, he was eventually kicked in the chest and every bone in his body was broken.
Seeing no other choice, Ross called for a helicopter to shoot at Hulk in a desperate attempt to kill him; however, his daughter was caught in the crossfire and nearly killed while Ross could only scream in horror. Hulk managed to shield Betty from the bullets and before Ross could call off the Helicopter, Hulk destroyed it and escaped with Betty Ross in his arms. General Ross watched helplessly as Hulk got away again, helpless to stop it from happening.
Ross's Unit traveled to his daughter's home to search for clues while Ross spoke to Leonard Samson. Although Ross tried to insist that his focus was purely on protecting his daughter, Samson noted that he believed Ross really only wanted to capture Banner, accusing him of being a bad father to his daughter as he intended to hunt her for aiding a fugitive. As Ross was leaving the property, Samson claimed that he now knew why Betty had avoided him for so long.
- "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
In need of new information about Hulk's movements, Ross obtained the World Security Council's permission to extract the data from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s computers. A few hours later, Ross was confronted by Nick Fury himself. Ross 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 completely focused on his mission and continued to track down Banner, until Kathleen Sparr pulled him away from his work.
Much to Ross' surprise, Emil Blonsky managed to recover incredibly quickly from the wounds suffered in the battle with the Hulk, with his bones mending in a matter of hours due to the Super Soldier Serum. When Ross asked him what he wanted to do now he was recovered, Blonsky volunteered to go through the procedure again to increase his strength so that he might have another chance of fighting and possibly defeating the Hulk, and Ross agreed.
Capturing 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Talk with Tony Stark
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.
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.
Secretary of State
The New Position
On June 23, 2011, while playing golf, Ross suffered a heart attack which resulted in 13 hours of surgery and a triple bypass. As a result, in April 2016, after forty years of service, General Ross announced his retirement from the United States Army. 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.
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.
Accompanied by Tony Stark, Ross 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 be considered heroes or vigilantes as the unlimited power with which they have operated could no longer be tolerated as it was almost impossible to control.
To prove his point, Ross showed 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 the footage was having on Maximoff, Steve Rogers asked Ross to end the presentation.
Ross 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 the Sokovia Accords in order to be put in line, explaining that many countries were signing, including Wakanda. As he left, Ross was asked by Natasha Romanoff what would happen if they did not sign and he 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Decimation, including his daughter, Ross was one of the many people to attend Tony Stark's funeral, who had given his life to kill Thanos and his army.
- "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
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.
- 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.
- Uniform: Ross uses two different uniforms, the Army Service Dress uniform, and the utility uniform.
- Pentagon: To be added
- Fort Johnson: To be added
- New Avengers Facility: 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 a general in the United States Air Force who eventually becomes a Hulk himself called Red Hulk. Ross was also the nephew of Jeffrey Mace.
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.
- 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.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Incredible Hulk Movie Novelization
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 The Incredible Hulk
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Iron Man 2: Public Identity
- ↑ The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week
- ↑ Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Captain America: Civil War
- ↑ AVENGERS IMPACT: A WHIH Newsfront Special Report
- ↑ WHIH Newsfront Exclusive: President Ellis Discusses the Avengers
- ↑ Avengers: Infinity War
- ↑ 'Avengers: Infinity War' Directors Reveal Who Died And Survived Off Screen
- ↑ Avengers: Endgame
- ↑ The Art of Captain America: Civil War
- ↑ Red Hulk And Iron Spider Were Considered For Captain America: Civil War