Thaddeus E. Ross (Thunderbolt)

General Thunderbolt RossIn these days, another long-awaited-for trailer has been released, and we finally got our first, proper look at Captain America: Civil War. While most of the characters appearing are ones we already met on this blog, there’s still one we never mentioned before: General Thunderbolt Ross, portrayed by William Hurt. The General is coming back directly from The Incredible Hulk, where he hunted down the Green Goliath all around the world, and gave birth to the Abomination in an effort to stop him. This time, he’s been promoted to United States Secretary of States, and as a strictly anti-superheroes activist he will play a big part in putting the heroes one against the other with a new law he’ll personally sign. Ross was also the second main antagonist in Hulk, where he was portrayed by Sam Elliott: even in this version, he mostly acted as a hunter and a persecutor for the protagonist, unleashing all the power of the Army to stop the Hulk. Waiting to see what the MCU version of General Ross will become, let’s take a look at the original one.

Thaddeus E. Ross was born in a family of glorious military tradition: every Ross (apart from Thaddeus’ grandfather) had been a decorated hero of war at the very least. Young Ross listened with amusement to his father’s tales of valor and heroism, and all his childhood games with his best friend Franklin Storm were recreations of the glorious battles he dreamt of. One day, Thaddeus’ father crashed with his plane just near his house, and it was the boy who found his father’s dead body in the cockpit. Even this accident couldn’t tame the soldier within the boy’s soul, however, and from that day Thad started taking flight lessons; when he came of age, of course, he enlisted into the Army. As a cadet, Ross fell in love with his captain’s daughter, Karen Lee, and the two got married soon after. Ross spent his “honeymoon” in war, in the South Pacific, where he gained the nickname “Thunderbolt” generalthunderboltrosscomics1because of his quick and lethal attacks. During his first war, Ross rose to the rank of Lieutenant (during this period, he participated to a secret mission with Howard Stark to repel an alien invasion) and soon of Major. Back home, he received a desk job as an unwanted reward for his war service, and his wife gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Betty. Ross didn’t even begin to be a father that he was called back to active duty, as the Vietnamese War was reaching its peak: again, “Thunderbolt” Ross proved to be an invaluable asset for the Army, and he rose to the rank of General. Coming back home as a war hero, Ross was given the leadership of Desert Base, a research outpost in New Mexico: here, he rose Betty along with Karen, but when the latter died of cancer, Thaddeus eventually decided that a military base wasn’t the place for a girl, and despite Betty’s efforts to be the daughter that the General wanted her to be, he sent her away to a boarding school until she reached adulthood. In the meanwhile, Ross was assigned the task of developing a new, powerful weapon for the Army, one the enemies of America would have been afraid only to think of: in order to fulfill his mission, Ross enlisted shy yet brilliant scientist Bruce Banner, who was the first and most useful recruit of Project Gamma Bomb.

Banner was quite the pacifist, and he originally built a bomb able to destroy weapons and fortresses, leaving people unharmed. Ross, unimpressed, made him restart the work from the start…unfortunately, all the excessive costs that this operation required made Ross end up in the target of his superiors, and only the intervention of billionaire arms dealer Tony Stark saved the project. Banner eventually bent to the General’s will, and built the highly destructive (and, he hoped, deterrent) bomb he was expecting. Ross was eager to see the end of the program: not only he despised Banner’s weakness and lack of manlihood, not only he had been humiliated when Banner had been made the supervisor of the entire operation despite being a civilian, but Betty, who had come back to live with her father, had actually fallen in love with the scientist he loathed so much. From Ross’ point of view, the testing of the bomb was a success, even if it created a massive monster, The Hulk, a creature of unlimited strength who clearly posed a generalthunderboltrosscomics2threat to the country. Ross, held responsible for the monster’s birth, was put in charge of Operation Hulk, having licence of employing any means necessary to hunt down, capture or kill the Green Goliath. Oddly enough, however, Banner started disappearing frequently, and everytime he was not around, Hulk appeared: Ross began to suspect that the scientist was in league with the brute, and summoned another decorated officer, Major Glenn Talbot, to investigate on the scientist. Talbot shared Ross’ dislike for Banner, and he even developed an attraction towards Betty, to the point that the General hoped his daughter would have had a change of heart and would have eventually preferred the brave Major to her shy doctor. The truth, however, emerged soon after, as the entire Desert Base witnessed Banner actually transforming into the Hulk: this only augmented Ross’ hatred towards the scientist and the beast inside him, and gave a brand new leaf to Operation Hulk. With the pretext of not knowing if Banner was actually in control of the Hulk, “Thunderbolt” Ross started an all-out war against his enemy, taking as the purpose of his life the total annihilation of the two beings he hated the most in the world…two beings that luckily enough were the same person, and the same target.

General Thaddeus Ross is an uncompromising and determined man, a war hero who accepts no weakness whatsoever, and who despises frailty in any form. Hardened by countless battles, he’s a war hero who only sees the world as a battleground for true men to win upon. Nicknamed “Thunderbolt” for good reasons, he’s a formidable pilot, a lethal hand-to-hand combatant and a skilled marksman; a tacticial genius with a natural charisma, he’s an undisputed and capable leader, a respected commander who earned the loyalty and obedience of his subordinates. Obsessed by The Hulk (and by his human alter-ego, Banner), Ross made the hunt and destruction of the Green Goliath his life-long mission…and a true soldier always accomplishes his missions.



  1. […] Thaddeus E. Ross (Thunderbolt) […]

  2. […] Thaddeus E. Ross (Thunderbolt) […]

  3. […] Thaddeus E. Ross (Thunderbolt) […]

  4. […] the Hulk. She acts as his only ally and friend while he’s on the run, despite her father, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, uses her as a bait to find Banner. She also appears in The Incredible Hulk, portrayed by Liv […]

  5. […] team, composed of Doc Samson, Iron Man, She-Hulk, Maria Hill and General “Thunderbolt” Ross, was indeed investigating the death of the Abomination, apparently killed by the Hulk, or by […]

  6. […] him with respect, basing him judgement on his battle prowess rather than on his skin or blood: Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, the only one Neal would have had good memories of. He survived his turn in Korea, and he came back […]

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