The Avengers are some of the biggest superheroes in the world, both fictional and real. Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1963, the team was often overshadowed by other Marvel properties like X-Men and Spider-Man. But in the 2000s, the seeds of the MCU were planted with the original Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor helping make their eventual team-up one of the biggest deals in the world. They’ve become massive icons despite their relative newness in pop culture. And each of their movies have treated them as a mix of celebrities, icons, and protectors. They are the ultimate heroes in a limitless world.
But here’s the thing. These superheroes are also really not all that great people in the long run, effectively ruining the world around them while in the pursuit of justice. They’re quick to anger and slow to solving problems reasonably. This ends anywhere between having entire cities destroyed, to even whole countries being wiped from the face of the Earth. And that horrible treatment doesn’t just end with other people, but to their so-called friends and teammates too. In both the comics and the movies, the heroes have made terrible decisions that tore friendships apart and put countless innocent lives at risk. Everyone who fears the Avengers and the power they wield is kind of in the right there. Here are the worst 15 things the Avengers have ever done, across the original comic books and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And fair warning here: spoilers up ahead.
15 Thor Destroys Entire Races
The Thor movies have featured a fun amount of over-the-top action and melodramatics, going bigger than almost any other Marvel series in terms of scope and grandeur. But those big action set pieces that he ends up getting thrown into usually end with an entire race of creatures being utterly annihilated from the face of the galaxy. Take the Ice Giants from the first movie, who lose all their leadership during Thor’s unprompted attack and the failed coup against Odin. In the second movie, the Dark Elves return to existence for just basically two days before they’re wiped out themselves. The flame demons and most of the Asgardian people are wiped out by the end of Ragnarok, with the remaining few not doing so well for themselves in the trailer for Avengers 4. If you know Thor, then get ready for your entire species to get obliterated.
14 Black Widow Ruins People Instead Of Just Using Her Tasers
Despite being a human member of the Avengers, Black Widow has been able to bring down squadrons of soldiers from both Earth and Space. She’s a master martial artist, capable of bringing down scores of men easily twice her size. She performs skull busting takedowns on many of her enemies. But here’s the thing. She also has a bunch of non-lethal equipment on her during fights. This includes tasers on her wrist and little tasers she can throw directly at targets. These incapacitate any target they come into contact with, almost instantly. So why doesn’t she just use those tactics against all of her targets to incapacitate them, instead of breaking all of their bones in the process? It’s an oddly cruel thing for an Avenger to do to the random henchmen she runs into.
13 The Avengers Keep Almost Ending Each Other
The Avengers have a pretty bad habit of punching first, asking questions later. And in classic superhero style, this usually ends with in-fighting that almost gets someone killed. The most infamous comes during the first Avengers film, when Thor unleashes a full strength hit against Captain America, who only survives because his shield is indestructible. But that’s not to forget the other times the heroes went after one another. Iron Man and War Machine got into a down right dirty fist fight in Iron Man 2, only they were wearing freaking robot suits. And the airport fight in Civil War sees Spider-Man, Black Widow, Black Panther, Iron Man, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, and Ant-Man all injured during the brawl. Any one of those hits could have fatally brought down any of them, but they still went for rocket-powered punches instead of just talking it out.
12 The Avengers Keep Wrecking The Planet
So, the Avengers have saved the world a couple of times, which is awesome. But, see, they’ve also effectively ruined entire corners of the world in the process along the way. The Avengers were at the center of a battle that almost levelled New York City to the ground. Other cities around the world are ruined by similar battles like Washington DC in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Greenwich in Thor: The Dark World, and Lagos in Civil War. Their destruction of Sokovia in Age of Ultron radically shifts the global political climate, and the destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D. has left the world open to chaos. And none of that compares to the sheer level of death and destruction that's happened thanks to the comics Avengers. Those stories sometimes end with Ultron just murdering entire nations for kicks. The Avengers are heroes, sure. But they’re doing just as much damage to the world instead of just protecting it.
11 Black Widow Could Have Solved The Climax Of Civil War
At the core of Civil War is the threat of unchecked power, and whether or not the characters allow fear and rage to overcloud their loyalty and ethics. It builds to an emotional climax when Iron Man finds out that Bucky (while brainwashed by HYDRA into being their assassin) was the man who killed Tony’s parents. Captain America admits that he knew, but defends Bucky by arguing about the brainwashing. And in the heat of the moment, Tony goes all out against the pair of them and tries to murder Bucky. Who else knew that Bucky did that? Black Widow. She was with Captain America when they discovered that fact in Captain America: Winter Soldier. If she’d told Tony that over three movies ago, then Tony maybe would have had the time to deal with that revelation, and maybe Civil War wouldn’t have ended with a chunk of the heroes as fugitives from the United States.
10 They Started Using The Infinity Stones
The Infinity Stones are ancient and powerful artifacts that have the potential to change or shift the entire basis of the universe to the whim of the wielder. The six were separated and hidden around the universe in an attempt to stop anyone from harnessing the sheer magnitude of their power. And in the last few years, the idiots from Earth have essentially collected them all. Humans weaponize the stones (HYDRA), use them to empower themselves with time travel (Dr. Strange), bonded with the stones (Jane Foster), even use them to power our robot friends (Vision). And it’s those little mistakes and missteps that got us where we are now, in a reality where someone like Thanos could actually get their hands on all six and effectively become God. So, you know, thanks Avengers. Great job, potentially ending all of creation as we know it. Thanks.
9 The Avengers Kicked Hulk Off Planet Earth
In Thor: Ragnarok, Hulk ends up on the space gladiator planet of Sakaar completely by accident. He was in an Avengers plane that went off course and got sucked into the garbage fire that is Grandmaster’s world. But in the comics, the decision that sends Hulk to that world are a lot more deliberate. A group of higher-ups in the Marvel universe known as the Illuminati (Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, Prof. Xavier and Marvel’s equivalent of Aquaman, Namor) that came together to decide the fate of some of the biggest threats in the Marvel universe. After one too many Hulk rampages, the group voted to banish Hulk from Earth. To that end, they lured him onto a satellite and shot it into space. While they did mean to land him on a peaceful world and the Hulk punching the ship threw it off course to Sakaar, it’s still an incredibly horrible thing for the heroes to do to their friend and teammate.
8 Ultron Is 100% Their Fault
While the movies have done a good job of changing and adapting the events of the source material, there have been some consistent elements between the Marvel comics and the movies that followed. And one of the most important is that the homicidal robotic menace Ultron is completely and utterly the fault of the so-called “heroes.” In the comics, Ultron is an attempt by Hank Pym to create a sentient AI, which immediately started trying to kill him. In the movies, it’s instead Tony Stark and Bruce Banner who accidentally create the monster while trying to make a stronger defence for planet Earth. No matter the medium, Ultron soon embarks on a mission to eradicate all of humanity and take over the remains of the world.
7 Tony Stark Risks His Best Friend's Life
Speaking of both Civil War and Iron Man’s inability to properly prioritize, Tony managed to somehow mess up adding parachutes to other superhero suits. During the epic airport battle in Civil War, War Machine a.k.a. Col. James Rhodes, Tony’s best friend, is shot out of the air by errant friendly fire. As he plummets to the ground, he’s unable to regain control of the suit, and crashes into the Earth. He’s left seriously injured by the fall. But Tony DID remember to give Spider-Man his own parachute, which makes much less sense than giving one to the guy who actually flies around all the time. And when Spider-Man actually uses that parachute in Spider-Man: Homecoming, it almost manages to kill him by wrapping around him and trapping him as he falls headfirst into a lake. Tony, parachutes are supposed to save lives, not end them.
6 Ant-Man Is A Hardcore Criminal
Scott Lang is a convicted felon when we meet him in Ant-Man, nearing the end of his prison service. His past crimes have separated him from his wife and his daughter, effectively ruining his life. He vows to give up crime completely and go the straight and narrow. And that lasts all of five minutes, before his friend Luis manages to bring him back in on a heist. It’s a depressing realization that Scott, who had been a successful man before turning to crime, doesn’t even really give an innocent life a chance. And yes, he does find redemption is accidentally ending up with a shrinking suit that allows him to stop Nazi-backed corporate espionage (the Marvel movies are crazy when you think about it, you guys), but that had to be one of the least likely outcomes of him falling back into crime.
5 Hank Pym Is A Horrible Human Being
Movie Hank Pym, as performed by Michael Douglas, is an elder statesman of the Marvel universe. A former member of S.H.I.E.L.D. who left the organization when his shrinking technology was being considered for weapons development, he’s portrayed as a good man who’s given in to his depression and just decided to give up on the world. But comics Hank Pym is… different. And way worse. In the comics, Pym is actually a founding Avenger, alongside Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, and the Wasp. It’s that last relationship that becomes the most pronounced, as his relationship to Janet Van Dyne becomes central to the Avengers ongoing storylines. And after a number of stressful experiences (including creating comics Ultron, because comics Hank Pym is just the worst), he has a breakdown and plots to fake an emergency to make himself out to be a hero. Janet tries to stop him, so he backhands her across the room. It’s become a consistent element to be brought up over the years, even being amplified in the 2000 Ultimates stories, where Hank beat her so bad she ended up in the hospital. With Janet appearing in the upcoming Ant-Man & The Wasp film (and being played by Michelle Pfeiffer), ideally we can avoid ever bringing up that side of Hank.
4 Iron Man Created Prisons For Heroes
Civil War was one of the best entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was an emotional battle as much as it was a violent one, and it saw Iron Man and Captain America both pushed to their ethical extremes, which is wholly more understandable and interesting than it was in the comics, where Civil War was an exceptionally more over the top conflict. Even his friends called him out on arresting them just for disagreeing with their disagreement with giving power over to world governments. And while Civil War pushes Iron Man to the moral limits, the comics had Iron Man cross some serious lines pretty quickly. It's way worse. Not only did he help make a robot/clone of Thor that went nuts and killed a hero, he even went so far as to construct a giant prison outside of space and time to lock up other superheroes. Seriously, he even brings people like Daredevil into a crazy space prison. It makes Iron Man a bit more difficult to support.
3 Black Panther Dumps Storm Cruelly
With the Fox/Disney merger coming to fruition, audiences could be seeing characters from the X-Men and Fantastic Four running into the already established heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And one of the best moments could come from Black Panther meeting the X-Men, specifically Storm. The two fell in love and got married in the comics, becoming one of the Marvel universe’s premier power couples. But their eventual breakup ended up being straight-up brutal. After some of the X-Men went mad from the intensity of the Phoenix Force in Avengers Vs X-Men, Wakanda is levelled by a massive flood. Furious at Storm and her teammates, Black Panther bluntly sets up an annulment that breaks the marriage. When Storm confronts him on it, he coldly ends the relationship and goes on his way. There are bad breakups, and then there are bad breakups. That’s a bad one.
2 The Avengers Blew Up Alternate Earths
The Illuminati didn’t stop at sending Hulk into space. The group was forced to step up their efforts in recent years when all of reality was threatened by a seemingly endless phenomenon called Incursions. They caused Earths from various parts of the multiverse to merge and destroy one another – unless one of the planets was eliminated first. The Illuminati (alongside Black Panther and Beast) came together and found themselves building bombs to destroy worlds if they needed to. While they were lucky for a while, with the other Earth’s being destroyed by others or completely abandoned, that luck ran out when they came across a version of the world protected by basically the Justice League. A battle breaks out between the two teams, with the Justice League winning until Dr. Strange unleashes a demonic force that slaughters almost the entire group. The Avengers find that they can’t destroy a populated world, so Namor (Marvel Aquaman) picks up the trigger and explodes the planet. It is cold, and a real line for the team to cross.
1 Captain Marvel Got Gaslighted While The Avengers Made Jokes
Brie Larson is starring in the upcoming Captain Marvel film for the MCU, which is really exciting. Captain Marvel, a.k.a. Carol Danvers, is one of the coolest lead heroines from Marvel, a bada*s USAF pilot who is given super powers and proceeds to beat the crap out of aliens and jerks. Marvel has been pushing her forward in recent years, which is a far cry what they used to do to her. In Avengers #200, Carol woke up and realized she was suddenly pregnant. Rightfully confused, she’s shocked as the pregnancy accelerates at an enhanced rate. Carol is pretty quickly horrified, while her fellow Avengers start making jokes and share baby talk. Carol gives birth to the baby, who quickly grows into a full grown man, who then uses a device to take over her mind and force her to fall in love with him. At which point, the Avengers let her be taken to an alternate universe against her will, with a smile and a wave. They let her get cosmic drugged, and they didn’t do a thing to help. When Carol returned to the comics freed from Marcus and his influence, she ripped into the Avengers for their mistake. Brie Larson already had to deal with The Room, so hopefully Marvel won’t bring anything from this story to the films.