Today, the world at large knows the Avengers from not only comics, but their exploits on the small screen, in theaters and beyond. But 50 years ago, AVENGERS #1 saw Earth’s Mightiest Heroes assemble for the very first time to combat the threats none could overcome alone.
In the five decades since, dozens of men, women, aliens, machines, etc. have called themselves Avengers. From villains who once opposed the team to ordinary humans rising to the challenge and every form of hero in between, the top team in the Marvel Universe boasts the most impressive all-time roster around.
To celebrate the Avengers’ 50th anniversary, Marvel.com called upon a panel of experts that included fans and professionals alike to pick the 50 al-time greatest members of the team. This list will unfold in five parts and feature write-ups as well as information and digital comics links spotlighting each Avenger.
Please let us know what you think of our selections and share your own by tweeting @Marvel on Twitter and using the hashtag #Avengers50Read part one!
Read part two!
Read part three!
Read part four!
49. JESSICA JONES
ANT-MAN (Scott Lang)
43. U.S. AGENT
34. THE THING
33. MADAME WEB
31. IRON PATRIOT
30. MOON KNIGHT
JACK OF HEARTS
24. THE BLACK KNIGHT
18. THE HULK
17. THE SCARLET WITCH
16. WONDER MAN
15. THE FALCON
13. BEAST 12. LUKE CAGE
11. EDWIN JARVIS
First Appearance: TALES OF SUSPENSE #52
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS #111
Why She’s #10: “The Avengers can be as much about redemption as heroism, and no character exemplifies that as much as Natasha Romanoff. This ex-secret agent started out as one of Iron Man's many Russian rogues, until she decided to wash the blood off of her hands by joining the heroic team. But with her unparalleled manipulation skills and deadly hand-to-hand combat training, Black Widow could put her skills to work for any organization for any price. And considering her tragic history, filled with loved ones taken too ruthlessly and too soon, who could really blame her for taking whatever she wants?
"That’s why Black Widow deserves to be a top ten Avenger. She uses the truths of her own traumatic origin story as motivation to be better instead of an excuse to be worse. She puts the tools the devil gave her to use on the side of good, all hoping to atone for her own past misdeeds – and she makes tough decisions that keep her teammates from needing to atone themselves.” – Brett White
Digital Spotlight Comic: MIGHTY AVENGERS (2007) #3
First Appearance: MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #13
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS #183
Why She’s #9: “Carol Danvers could have given up. When she had her powers and memories ripped away from her, she could have quit. When she lost access to her cosmic abilities, she could have thrown in the towel. When the Avengers confronted her about her alcoholism, when a civil war turned her against her dearest friends, and when she willingly sacrificed her identity to save Earth, Carol Danvers could have called it a day. But she didn't.
“Carol's unwavering confidence in the face of constant heartache remains her most defining trait, whether she's overcoming insurmountable odds as Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, or Captain Marvel. No Avenger may be as capable and supportive as Carol, who often acts as the team's coach, cheerleader, and linebacker all at once. An Avengers lineup can only be strengthened by Captain Marvel's inclusion.” – Brett White
Digital Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS (1998) #47
First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #52
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS (1963) #52
Why He’s #8: “Former sovereign of glorious Wakanda, one of the richest, most advanced nations in Africa or elsewhere, T’Challa knows better than any Avenger how to speak truth to power. A crucial voice of dissent on the clandestine Illuminati council, the stoic Black Panther leads even as he follows. Whether serving as king or counsel, he rallied his people against seemingly insurmountable Skrull invasion forces and Thanos’ vilest lieutenants. Even as a lone agent abroad, he remains a world-class warrior of intense focus, clawing his way back from the brink and reasserting himself as avatar of the Panther God.
“T’Challa exhibits the most valuable traits of a ruler and Avenger, offering unparalleled wisdom as a leader, selfless abandon for his people, and the conviction to buck authority even when others cow to it.” – Paul Montgomery
Digital Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS (1963) #74
First Appearance: TALES TO ASTONISH #27
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS (1963) #1
Why He’s #7: “Does the marvel of the infinitesimal Pym Particle outweigh the scourge of Ultron? Do the deeds of the Vision supersede the frailty of his inventor? Gifted scientist Hank Pym tinkered with history in his advancement of artificial intelligence, escalating mechanized terror even as he worked toward building automated heroes. Though his legacy remains forever tainted by the prying open of Pandora’s toolbox as well as his own domestic strife, Pym emboldened and expanded the literal fabric of the costumed hero for the Avengers and any other adventurer who dares to walk into fire and otherwise stretch themselves beyond their mortal bounds.
“As Ant-Man, Giant Man, Yellowjacket and the Wasp, one scientist showed the world that humanity could conform to any task, large or small.” – Paul Montgomery
Digital Spotlight Comic: MIGHTY AVENGERS #21
First Appearance: AVENGERS (1963) #57
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS (1963) #58
Why He’s #6: “Vision’s introduction to the team as an individual bent on the Avengers’ destruction ranks as one of the more unique. As a testament to the hero’s instincts lurking beneath his diamond hard surface, the android soon overcame the machinations of his so-called father, Ultron, and earned a home with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. That victory proved to be the first of many challenges that Vision conquered over the years.
“Few Avengers have suffered being literally taken apart repeatedly. With each rebuild or digital resurrection, Vision’s resilient nature belied expectations and he always reconnected with his emotions. This one-of-a-kind nature that makes him such a valuable leader and father figure for the Avengers A.I. group.” – Tim O’Shea
Digital Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS ASSEMBLE ANNUAL #1
First Appearance: TALES TO ASTONISH #44
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS (1963) #1
Why She’s #5: “For a lengthy period, it seemed like giving the Avengers their name would be the Wasp’s most lasting contribution to the team. Despite being a charter member, she tended to remain in the background, lending moral support and following the whims of Hank Pym. But when her husband lost control, lashing out at her and ending their marriage, something changed within Janet Van Dyne. She not only became chairperson of the Avengers, but perhaps the most potent and resourceful leader Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had ever seen.
“Combining her ability to win over her teammates with an underrated strategic mind, Wasp led the Avengers through both good times and some of their darkest hours, including the Masters of Evil’s siege, which she bucked the odds to overcome. Even when she hasn’t been in charge, Janet has remained the heart of the group, bolstering the spirits of her allies and encouraging them never to give up. If the Avengers themselves voted on this list, it’s likely the Wasp would take the number one spot.” – Ben Morse
Digital Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS #217
First Appearance: TALES OF SUSPENSE #39
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS (1963) #1
Why He’s #3: “Tony Stark has distinguished himself time and time again in his service to the Avengers, both inside and outside the armor. He service as a hero in his Iron Man persona should be obvious, but Tony Stark the man has contributed a lot to the team as well, including the iconic Quinjet, his family estate now known as Avengers Mansion, and, upon the mansion's destruction, his personal skyscraper as the new home base for the group. Iron Man remains among the most publicly accessible members of the Avengers, but he also works behind the scenes as a member of the Illuminati.
“Civil War ended with the assassination of Steve Rogers and with Tony Stark taking over the global peacekeeping force S.H.I.E.L.D. When Captain America returns from the grave, he and Tony sorted out their differences and re-initiated the Avengers again as comrades in arms against the forces of evil. Though at times tenuous, few others can be said to have done as much to keep the Avengers together as their knight in armor, Tony Stark.” – Ryan Haupt
Digital Spotlight Comic: NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI (2006) #1
First Appearance: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #83
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS (1963) #1
Why He’s Also #3: “Though his tenure as an Avenger will perhaps amount to but a fraction of a percent in the Odinson’s long and storied life, that time ultimately amounts to far more than a mere footnote in his ongoing saga. A founding member of the group, the bold prince of Asgard came of age amongst the Vikings of ancient Midgard before realizing his heroic legacy in the modern day. The lust and fervor that first led Thor to Earth eventually matured to love and compassion for its people. As an Avenger, Thor inspires his comrades with nobility and humility in equal measure, lending his awesome strength in their every encounter, whether on Earth or far beyond the stars.
“Thor’s mirth can’t be matched; his insight into warfare and the full spectrum of the cosmos, immeasurable. If not the greatest of Avengers, he surely ranks among the mightiest, and more than worthy of his high standing.” – Paul Montgomery
Digital Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS (1998) #63
First Appearance: TALES OF SUSPENSE #57
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS (1963) #16
Why He’s #2: “You won’t find an Avenger cooler than Hawkeye. As soon as the hot-headed archer first shot an insult Captain America's way back in the team's Kooky Quartet days, successive writers knew they had a character that could handle their most cutting one-liners. But Hawkeye's greatness does not come from his quiver of quips—it comes from the heart that he's constantly tried to downplay with his detached attitude. Few heroes have been as committed to the team as Clint Barton.
“He has no super powers; Hawkeye’s a regular guy, one whose struggles mirror our own. We've seen our issues with confidence, our mortality, our injuries, our heartache, and our loss all reflected in Hawkeye's stories. He's the human Avenger who overcomes his problems just enough to fight on superhuman battlefields. We can't be a god like Thor, and not all of us can be a genius like Tony Stark, and very few of us can remain as unwavering as Captain America. We can be Hawkeye, though, and he's a great Avenger to be.” – Brett White
Digital Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS #189
First Appearance: CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1
Joined the Avengers: AVENGERS (1963) #4
Why He’s #1: “The Avengers might have had their first adventures without Captain America, but anyone can tell you that they did not truly become Earth’s Mightiest Heroes until he joined their ranks. Steve Rogers needed a place to call home, a sanctuary from a future that he could not have imagined as a World War II soldier, and the Avengers needed not just a man of strategy but one of hope. If Cap held more to the idea of destiny than the model of American self-determination, he might have thought it just fated to be. The super soldier quickly became leader and iconic symbol of the team, fighting to keep the world safe in an era he barely understands.
“Over the years, Rogers has repeatedly proven himself the consummate Avenger, standing up to government attempts to pervert the team for political or international gain, reaching out to the marginalized in society, be they ex-convicts—Hawkeye, Swordsman—or mutants—Beast—or both (Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch—and seen that the team did not just protect the U.S. or the Earth, but rather the entirety of the cosmos. Steve Rogers may do what he does to honor the ideals of the American Dream, but most of his teammates do it to honor the ideals he embodies with every choice he makes.
“No matter how many times the team squabbles, fractures, and reforms, Captain America can be counted on as the stalwart foundation of the Avengers in any iteration.” – Tim Stevens & Ryan Haupt
Digital Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS #277
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