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"For the past four years, you operated with unlimited power and no supervision. That's an arrangement the governments of the world can no longer tolerate."
―Thaddeus Ross to the Avengers[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 which forced Ross to accept Hulk as an ally and allow him to escape after the battle in Harlem.

Five years after that incident, Ross left the Army and started serving as the United States Secretary of State. During this time, Ross approved the Sokovia Accords, which aimed to control the actions of 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' fury.

Biography

Early Work

"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. Well, in WWII, they initiated a subprogram for Bio-Tech Force Enhancement."
"Yeah, Super-Soldier."
―Thaddeus Ross and Emil Blonsky[src]

A young Thaddeus Ross returned to America at the age of 27, having joined the military and participated in the Vietnam War.[1] Over the years he rose to the rank of a three-star general, and also had had a daughter named Elizabeth, who eventually went by the nickname Betty.

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.[2]

General-Ross-Protects-Betty-Ross

Ross protects Betty Ross from Hulk

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 - and after an accidental explosion, became the "Hulk", a giant and amazingly strong brute who fled after injuring Betty, leaving her in a coma.

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Ross confronts Bruce Banner

When Banner returned to visit Betty in the hospital, Ross was furious and threw Banner out, causing Banner to go on the run. 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 Army's effort to recover the fugitive in coordination with S.H.I.E.L.D. The General's obsession caused a major rift between him and his daughter, Betty Ross, who still loved Banner. Their relationship never fully recovered.[3]

Meeting Tony Stark

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Ross talking to Tony Stark

"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", when Tony Stark got poisoned from his Arc Reactor palladium core, Senator Stern called Ross. When Ross arrived in Stern's office, he told him to forgive him as he was in a bit of a hurry as this was taking him away from the Gamma Project and he wanted to get back to it. Ross said that the United States Army could not afford to wait for Tony Stark to smarten up. He told both Stern and James Rhodes to follow him. Ross was about to show them something that was classified; Stern asked where Justin Hammer was and Ross told him that Hammer was on the way. Ross told them that their new weapon would be the right way to send the right message to the enemies of freedom, the message being that they did not need Tony Stark.[4] When Hammer arrived he presented to Rhodes and Ross the Aerodynamic Marvel, which he considered to be the next step on close-quarter combat with full protection and attack capabilities. When testing the machine it was shot down and fell into an enemy zone.[5] Ross was informed that Iron Man was heading in to clean up. Ross was interested in seeing what Stark could do. After Stark saved the pilot, Ross ordered him to land on Cairo's West Air Base immediately. Stark met with Ross and asked if he had something to ask him, Ross told him that they picked up on a shoot out with the Congolese Army and Stark did not return fire, stating that when someone fires on an American, that American has to fire back; he also told him that by claiming that he would not make any more weapons, he was distancing himself from his father's legacy. Stark warned him that if he heard about another innocent being put in harm's way there would be consequences.[6]

Hunt for Hulk

GeneralRoss-TIH

Ross learns of Banner's whereabouts

"I will never forgive what you’ve done to him."
"He’s a fugitive."
"You made him a fugitive. To cover your failures, and to protect your career. Don’t ever speak to me as your daughter again."
Betty Ross and Thaddeus Ross[src]

Later, Ross received intel that a man had become infected with Gamma Radiation 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.

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Ross recruits soldiers into his unit

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.

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Ross briefs his unit on Bruce Banner

As they traveled to the location, Ross choose 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 US 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.[3]

Encounter in Brazil

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Ross finally catches up with Bruce Banner

"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]

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.

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Ross witnesses the Hulk's escape

Banner continued to run until he became cornered in the Pingo Doce factory and transformed into Hulk due to a mugging. The Hulk quickly defeated the soldiers, despite Blonsky personally attempting to defeat him. When Blonsky fired his weapon at the Hulk, he was forced to flee when the 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.

GeneralRoss-FailedMission

Ross explains Bruce Banner's power

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.[3]

Creating a Super-Soldier

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General Ross with Emil Blonsky

"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; bold work."
―Thaddeus Ross and Emil Blonsky[src]

When they returned to the USA, Ross told Emil Blonsky exactly how Bruce Banner became the 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.

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Ross collects the Super Soldier Serum

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 the 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.

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Ross watches Emil Blonsky's experiment

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 super human levels, allowing him to rejoin the unit and assist Ross in hunting down the Hulk.[3]

Battle at Culver University

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Ross witnesses Bruce Banner's transformation

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

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 the Banner, who had transformed into Hulk. Betty Ross screamed at her father but he refused listen to listen to her.

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General Ross tries to capture the Hulk

Eventually Ross sent Blonsky to attack the 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 the Hulk until he broke free and destroyed the Cannons. Despite Ross' orders, Blonsky continued to engage the 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.

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Ross sees Betty being taken away by the Hulk

Seeing no other choice, Ross called for a helicopter to shoot at Hulk in a desperate attempt to kill it; however, his daughter was caught in the crossfire and nearly killed while Ross could only scream in horror. The 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 the Hulk got away again, helpless to stop it.

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Ross speaks to Leonard Samson

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 down for aiding a fugitive. As Ross was leaving the property, Samson claimed that he now knew why Betty had avoided him for so long.[3]

Blonsky's Return

GeneralRoss-WatchesTheNews

Ross tries 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 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.[7] 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.

GeneralRoss-Blonskys-Recovery

Ross learns of Emil Blonsky's 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 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.[3]

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 in 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.

GeneralRoss-HelicopterCall-TIH

Ross learns of the 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 a Hulk-like monster. This 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 the Hulk, and witnessed the 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 the 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 the Abomination to a fight while the innocent people ran for their lives.[3]

Duel of Harlem

General-Ross-Gunman

Ross' soldiers shoot at the Abomination

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

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

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Ross survives a helicopter crash

Only Ross and his daughter survived the crash, as both were saved by having 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 the Abomination, who desired to kill the General due to his mutation.

General-Ross-Guns-Down-TIH

Ross orders his men to let Hulk leave

The pair's lives were put into danger again when the Abomination attempted to destroy the helicopter, but their lives were saved once again when Hulk strangled the Abomination nearly to death. Betty Ross was able to convince Hulk not to kill the 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 in custody and allowed Banner to disappear once again.[3]

Talk with Tony Stark

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Ross drinks and smokes in a bar

"You should talk."
"You should listen. What if I told you we were putting a team together?"
"Who's "we"?"
―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, Ross and 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 team, 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. 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.[8]

Secretary of State

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Ross becomes the Secretary of State.

"The General is no stranger to these types of incidents and he's had long-standing relationships with many of these heroes. And was instrumental in spearheading the response to the emergencies at both Culver University and Harlem. He's served this country with distinction for several decades and I believe he can work with our allies abroad and alongside these heroes."
Matthew Ellis to WHiH Newsfront[src]

While playing golf, Ross suffered a heart attack which resulted in 13 hours of surgery and a triple bypass.[9] As a result, in April 2016, after forty years of service, Ross announced his retirement from the United States Armed Forces.[10] He was then swiftly appointed as the United States' Secretary of State by President Matthew Ellis due to his experience in dealing with super-powered individuals such as Hulk.[11] As the United Nations of the world sought to impose greater accountability on super-heroes, including the Avengers, due to the devastating events in New York, Washington, D.C.Sokovia and Nigeria, Ross took an active role in trying to ensure the protection of the world from whom he viewed as super-powered vigilantes in the wake of their several massive battles.[9]

Sokovia Accords

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Ross has a meeting with the Avengers

"The world owes the Avengers an unpayable debt. You have fought for us, protected us, risked your lives. But while a great many people see you as heroes, there are some who would prefer the word vigilantes."
―Thaddeus Ross to the Avengers[src]

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.

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Ross shows off the footage of destruction

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 into a building occupied by several civilians who had died. Seeing the effect the footage had on Maximoff, Steve Rogers asked Ross to end the video presentation.

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Ross offers the Avengers a final ultimatum

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 Black Widow what would happen if they did not sign and he explained that they would be forced to retire instead.[9]

Captain America's Rebellion

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Ross orders the arrest of Captain America

"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 and Natasha Romanoff[src]

However when the United Nations were attacked and King T'Chaka was killed seemingly by the Winter Soldier, the assassin was quickly caught but soon escaped with the help of Captain America. Furious at this, Ross met with Tony Stark to confront him and demand that he bring Rogers, Falcon and the Winter Soldier into justice, which Stark promised he would within Seventy Two hours, although Ross remained somewhat skeptical and gave him thirty six hours.[9]

Arresting the Avengers

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Ross greets and threatens 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 Stark and Sam Wilson's talk

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 wellbeing of James Rhodes who had been badly injured, the audio feed was suddenly cut out during their conversation, which Ross blamed on his technical team before realizing that Stark was most likely to blame.

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Ross watches Tony Stark leaving 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, the prisoners were freed by Captain America and Ross contacted Stark to inform him of this, only for Stark to fulfil his earlier promise and put him on hold and ignore him, much to Ross' great annoyance.[9]

Personality

"What word would you use, Mr. Secretary?"
"How about "Dangerous"? What would you call a group of U.S.-based, enhanced individuals, who routinely ignores sovereign borders and inflict their will wherever they choose and who, frankly, seem unconcerned about what they leave behind them?"
Natasha Romanoff and Thaddeus Ross[src]

Decisive and ruthless, 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-solider project modified from a similar experiment from World War II. However, Ross is largely motivated by his own personal feelings and his vendetta against the 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 injuring him, his daughter and murdering several doctors from being unleashed the first time, 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 the 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 the Hulk was injecting his top solider, 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 the 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.

Abilities

"Secretary Ross has a Congressional Medal of Honor, which is one more than you have."
James Rhodes to Sam Wilson[src]

General Thaddeus Ross is a highly experienced soldier and Vietnam War veteran.

  • 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.

Relationships

Family

Allies

Enemies

Video Game Only

Appearances

Appearances for Thaddeus Ross

In chronological order:

Trivia

Behind the Scenes

References

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