And there came a day unlike any other, when earth’s mightiest heroes were united against a common threat! On that day the Avengers were born! To fight the foes no single hero could withstand!
They’ve been Mighty. Uncanny. New. Even Secret. They’ve been on the west coast (the best coast). They’ve travelled through time, dimensions and even challenged the Justice League of the Distinguished Competition. Their members have included billionaire playboys, super-patriots, reformed terrorists, and rampaging monstrosities. They’ve fought crime from the lowest streets to the highest heavens, from evil circuses to galactic conquerors to mad gods, and brokered peace between warring planets. They’ve been brainwashed, corrupted, fought evil alternate versions of themselves Dissassembled, Reborn, Returned, and moved house from sea bases to uptown Manhattan Mansions. Their movies have made more than 7 billion dollars worldwide. They’re the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Since their debut in the Swingin’ Sixties, created by Smilin’ Stan Lee and Jack “The King” Kirby, they’ve had a pretty varied roster. Many Avengers were popular characters who weren’t considered strong enough to carry their own series, and many were created just to pad out the team. Although they are officially supposed to represent the best of the best, the crème de la crème, they have been known to make a few pity hires or make the occasional misjudgement. But those mistakes are outshone by their triumphs. For every Silverclaw, there’s a Vision. So, without any further ado, here are the very best and absolute worst Avengers.
13. WORST: Starfox
One of the Eternals of Titan, brother to Thanos, Eros AKA Starfox, is a freak in the streets and a rapist in the sheets. Created in (and should never have left) the seventies, Starfox has fairly generic powers, like flight and super strength, but also has psychic control over emotions. Basically, he can make you happy, sad, or use the psychic equivalent of a roofie to get ladies in the mood. This is an Avenger. Not “was,” but is. He got his head kicked in by She-Hulk for putting the whammy on her and has sworn to never use his powers to rape again. So the previous ones don’t count, right? Right?
12. WORST: Dr Druid
Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, a dream team in ’60s Marvel, Anthony Ludgate Druid is proof that anyone can make a mistake. He started off as Doctor Droom, fought a few monsters, disappeared, and popped up again in the ’70s as Doctor Druid to avoid confusion with Dr Doom. He joined the Avengers after helping out during an attack by the Masters of Evil. He was promptly brainwashed by a supervillain and resigned in disgrace. He then took over the Secret Defenders, where he was brainwashed and faked his own death because leading a team was boring. Later on he actually died in his own mini-series, where his body was dumped in a trashcan by the Son of Satan.
11. WORST: Gilgamesh, the Forgotten One
An Eternal from Titan, Gilgamesh the Forgotten One spent his early days stealing the credit from various heroes throughout history. He posed as Hercules, Samson and more in his centuries of life. During a lull in membership, he joined the Avengers and pulled on a cowsuit to fight such threats as Nanny and the Growing Man. The Forgotten One is an almost accurate title. “Forgettable One” would be better. He was later given the name “Hero,” because his generic powerset and origin just weren’t generic enough. He was killed off in the ’90s, but was accidentally resurrected by a writer who never bothered to check on his status.
10. WORST: Deathcry
A member of the galactic Shi’ar empire, Deathcry was ordered to join the Avengers by her empress, Lilandra. She was a brooding loner who never quite fit in, with razor-sharp retractable claws, a healing factor, and a propensity to berserker rages. If any of these sound familiar, congratulations, you’ve read a Marvel comic. If none of these are ringing a bell, she was a cheap Wolverine knock-off but with boobs and from space. Her one contribution to the team was accidentally inspiring the Avengers to create their own galactic empire and conquer the universe in a timeline that was averted. So we’ll call that a tie.
9. WORST: D-Man
Dennis Dunphy dreamed of playing football. After a round of mad science and addictive super-steroids, he was super-strong, too strong to legally play, so he opted to join a UCWF (think WWE but with super-powers). Realising that he was addicted and under the influence of the corrupt UCWF owners, he went through gruelling cold turkey to break his addiction, before teaming up with Captain America and becoming an Avenger. He later developed schizophrenia and tried to save the world by robbing jewellery stores before living on the street and yelling at strangers about the time he beat up the Serpent Society. He has since been brainwashed and was killed by Sharon Carter, Cap’s girlfriend.
8. WORST: Swordsman
A master swordsman, the man who trained Clint Barton in fighting and crime, Jacques Duquesne thought bringing a regular sword to a godfight was a good idea. Initially joining the team as an infiltrator and saboteur on behalf of the Mandarin after a life of crime left him unable to do much of anything else, he changed his mind and decided to fight for justice with a regular old sword. No magic, no super-weapons, not even that much charisma. He was found out and fled, occasionally returning when his conscience pricked him. He died saving a fellow Avenger, Mantis, and was later resurrected as a tree to impregnate her with a Celestial Messiah.
7. WORST: Namor
Crown king of Atlantis, homo mermanus, Imperius Rex, Namor the Sub-Mariner is a complicated guy. Torn between land and sea, between defending the oceans and the surface, between good and evil, he’s a shining example of a typical king. Tyrannical, arrogant, self-centered, self-righteous, his times on the different Avengers teams are marked by in-fighting, betrayal and at least one genocide. His career began back in the ’40s, fighting with and against the first Human Torch and Captain America, before spending a few decades as an amnesiac vagrant. His first act on recovering his memories was rampaging through New York. He spent most of his time concocting schemes to seduce Sue Storm before moving onto planetary destruction with the Illuminati and the Cabal. Basically everything the Avengers should not be. Which very handily leads us to the next section, the best Avengers.
6. BEST: Beast
Best known as a founding member of the X-Men, Beast is a far better Avenger than he ever was an X-Man, and treated far better by them too. Although initially a diversity hire, he quickly established himself on the team, making friends with everyone from a time-lost soldier, a Norse god and a washed-up actor turned stuntman. Although he is at heart an X-Man, he is always on call should the team need him, even siding with them in the Avengers vs. X-Men event. An important, intelligent character who refuses to let his physical conditions define him, anytime he shows up it’s a good story.
5. BEST: She-Hulk
Beautiful lawyer Jennifer Walters spends her days in the courtroom fighting for justice, and her nights and weekends punching for justice as She-Hulk. A devout defender of the disenfranchised, she’s assisted emergency services through multiple disasters, even setting up her own relief organisation when she felt she could do more. She has all the upsides of the Hulk, but none of those pesky “SMASH” downsides. She’s also served with the Fantastic Four, Heroes for Hire and the Defenders, as well as having an impressive solo career and even served as a cosmic lawyer, presiding over cases across the universe before successfully arguing against the Living Tribunal to be released from this responsibility to better serve Earth.
4. BEST: Monica Rambeau
When a standard bust goes awry, Monica Rambeau was exposed to strange energies, altering her body forever. She can now change her body into different kinds of energy, fly, shoot energy blasts, and once hijacked a Green Lantern’s ring in an inter-company crossover. Captain Marvel. Photon. Spectrum. Pulsar. She’s had more name changes than a 90’s rapper. She was the first black leader of the Avengers, and remains one of the few people who out-blustered a wrathful Thor. She has since taken on cosmic monstrosities like the Infinites and led her own teams, Avengers Infinity and Nextwave, despite her family’s misgivings.
3. BEST: Captain America
Although not a founding member of the Avengers, he was the first to join their ranks after their initial adventures, replacing the Hulk. A living legend, he brought the team a new credibility, and went on to the second iteration of the team, made up exclusively of reforming criminals (Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) and turning them into shining examples the rest of superhero community strive to live up to. He has served on almost every iteration of the team since then, and has passed his mantle onto his former sidekick, Bucky. In addition to leading the Avengers, his hobbies include inspiring speeches and talking about any one of the many times he punched Hitler.
2. BEST: Quicksilver
Son of Magneto. Terrorist. Member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Titles that would define many others. Not Pietro Maximoff. Rejecting his father and his criminal past, he joined the Avengers to create a better world for mutant and human alike. His super-speed and relentless drive to be better than he is, despite his many professional and personal failings, has made him a formidable member of the team, even out-racing the much faster Flash in the inter-company crossover,JLA/Avengers. He has also appeared in both X-Men and Avenger movies, despite the legal quagmire that is mutant movie rights between Fox and Marvel.
1. BEST: Thor
Thor Odinson is the Prince and occasional All-Father of Asgard, best known as the God of Thunder and Lord of Living Lightning. A founding member of the team, he has been present for almost all the major shake-ups, standing against cosmic horrors, demons, mutants, madmen and genocidal robots. With his mighty hammer Mjolnir, command over the fury of the storm and strength that far exceeds that of mortal men, Thor would be a devastating force were it not for his surprising gentleness. His wrath, although terrifying, is a rare sight. It’s almost as common to see him playing with the children of Asgard as it is to see him cracking Frost Giant’s skulls. A child of Asgard and Midgard, he’s conflicted between his responsibilities to both, but ultimately sides with humanity every time. Probably the greatest Avenger of them all.