Throughout the X-Men universe, several characters have taken up the mantle of Thunderbird. From Neal Shaara’s Thunderbird to James Proudstar's brief run as the character before becoming Warpath. However, one man held the title long before anyone else. How much do you know about the original Thunderbird?
Thunderbird, a/k/a John Proudstar, created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, made his first appearance in Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1975. Proudstar grew up on a reservation in Camp Verde, Arizona with his family, an Apache tribe. While a teenager, Proudstar discovered he possessed various mutant abilities, including superhuman senses, strength, speed, stamina, and sturdiness. During the Vietnam War, Proudstar was drafted into the United States Marine Corps and earned the rank of corporal. He later returned back to his tribe, but was very unhappy and often listless.
Eventually, Professor Charles Xavier recruited him to join his third group of X-Men under the codename Thunderbird. Eager to prove himself, Proudstar assisted the other X-Men in rescuing the original X-Men from the mutant island, Krakoa. On several occasions, the ill-tempered Thunderbird found himself going up against the X-Men's leader, Cyclops. During a mission to Valhalla Base, Colorado, the X-Men were forced into combat with Count Nefaria and the Ani-Men.
As Nefaria attempted to make his escape in a jet plane, Proudstar leapt on board. After completely disregarding Professor X’s orders to jump to safety, Thunderbird hammered the plane with his bare fists. Naturally, the plane exploded, killing Proudstar in the process.
Currently, FOX is developing a new X-Men TV show, tentatively titled Gifted. Blair Redford (Switched at Birth) was recently announced as portraying Thunderbird in the new series. No premiere date for the show has been set as of yet.