When you’re talking about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, you’re already grading power - and importance - on a pretty high end of the spectrum. But which characters have been most integral to The Avengers? And as we’ll soon see, needed the team the most? Here are the top 10 Avengers characters... Ever:
10. Wonder Man
Sure, he may be all decrying the team in current continuity, but Wonder Man’s insanely high power level, and quick switch from villain to iconic (or should we say, ionic?) hero lasted far, far longer. It’s hard to think of Wonder Man without the Avengers, even with a long running solo series... Here’s hope he gets returned where he belongs, and soon.
Like Wonder Man, Hawkeye spent some time as a villain, before embarking on a career as the most purple man (outside of the Purple Man) in comics. As a regular guy who’s just really, really good at shooting arrows, he still stands among the best of the best - and with a team like the Avengers, that means something.
8. Rick Jones
Speaking of regular guys, Rick Jones is as regular as they come, yet he’s always been at the center of the Marvel Universe in a big, big way. Nowhere was this clearer than his time with the Avengers, as he was front and center during the seminal Kree/Skrull War, as well as the landmark Avengers Forever mini-series. He may only be an honorary member, but we can’t imagine the team without him.
Why is the God of Thunder - technically one of the big three - so low on this list? Only because his solo adventures are as memorable, if not moreso, than his time on the team. Still, it wouldn’t be Avengers without the flaxen-haired hammer-wielder, particularly as most Avengers stories are just killing time until Thor can get in there and start swinging Mjolnir.
6. Scarlet Witch
Another reformed villain, and one that started associated with the X-Men no less. But Wanda Maximoff found her calling as part of the Avengers, and will be forever associated in our minds with some of the team’s best storylines. She’s been out of the game for a while after, er, going crazy and pretty much killing everybody... But given the focus of the current Avengers vs. X-Men crossover, we bet she’s soon going to be right back where like her best: leading the charge with the world’s greatest super-team.
5. Iron Man
Like Thor, Iron Man has had enough solo adventures to fill over five hundred issues of his own book; but without Tony Stark’s moolah, there would be no Avengers Mansion, no Jarvis, and no unlimited supply of Quinjets. Plus, Tony needs his super-powered besties to keep him down to Earth. He’s an integral part of the team, and they’re an integral part of him.
4. The Wasp
She may be gone, but not forgotten: the Wasp is probably one of the most consistent members of the Avengers, having been on many, many iterations of the team. Her stature may be small, but the shadow her memory casts is long.
3. Luke Cage
Sure, Luke Cage had a long career as Power Man before hitting the ranks of the New Avengers, but no character in recent history has made such a leap from C-Lister to A-Lister the way Luke Cage has. After a few short years? We can’t imagine an Avengers line-up without him.
2. Captain America
He may have not be introduced until issue four, but Captain America IS The Avengers. He’s the heart, the soul, the driving force that keeps the title going. Like the other members of the big three (Iron Man, Thor), he’s had his share of solo adventures, but really, there is no Avengers without Captain America.
1. Hank Pym
Who best exemplifies the heroism, the perseverance, and the conflict of the Avengers better than Hank Pym? He’s not a god, the smartest scientist, or even super-strong. But through every iteration, from Ant-Man, to Giant-Man, and beyond, Hank Pym has stuck by the Avengers and made the team what it is today. Plus, as the ex-husband of the Wasp, the “Father” of Ultron, and the current shepard of Avengers Academy, Pym has been the center of pretty much every major beat in the team’s history. There may be no Avengers without Captain America, but without Hank Pym, we wouldn’t have the backbone of the entire Marvel Universe.