While the current movie team has had a relatively simple history, the comic book version of this classic squad has had more lineup changes than King Crimson. Today we’re going to take a look at all the characters that have joined and left the group since its inception.
The heroes that started the team in September of 1963 are some of the most famous: Iron Man, Thor, Henry Pym (the original Ant-Man), Wasp (Who would eventually become Ant-Man’s wife), and Hulk, of course with Nick Fury. Captain America was found encased in ice in March of the following year, and given retroactive founder status thanks to his real-life age. Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch joined in May of the next year, followed by Swordsman in September . . . who was expelled in the same issue, to be later readmitted in 1973. Hercules joined in October of 1967, Black Panther joined in May – and Vision in November – of 1968. Black Knight joined at the tail end, December of 1969.
The seventies’ first addition was the current-member Black Widow in 5/1973. Mantis joined in 9/75, Beast, Moondragon, and Hellcat joined in 9/76. The last three were all on probationary status for a varied number of months. Two-Gun Kid joined in 8/78, Ms. Marvel, now Captain Marvel, joined in 5/79, and Falcon joined in 6/79.
During the eighties, things became more complicated. Wonder man, probationary since ’77, joined officially in 4/80. Tigra joined in 9/81, and She-Hulk in 7/82. Captain Marvel joined in 5/83, Starfox in 5/84, Namor in 12/85, and Doctor Druid in 4/87. From 84-87, Hawkeye left the Avengers and began the West Coast Avengers, recruiting Mockingbird and War Machine in 9/84, Thing (from the Fantastic Four) in 6/86, Moon Knight in 6/87, who would leave quickly, and Firebird in West Coast Avengers Annual #2. After the Marvel universe event Inferno, Demolition Man, Forgotten One, Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman, U.S. Agent, Quasar, and Human Torch before the decade would be over.
The complications increase in the nineties. In the first year heroes Sersi and Stingray join. Spider-Man, Sandman, Rage, Machine Man, Living Lightning, Spider-Woman, Crystal, Thunderstrike, and Darkhawk are made UN Charter recruits, though some would not last. After the Heroes Return event, Justice joins the Avengers in May of ’98.
Triathlon and Silverclaw join in 2000, Jack of Hearts in 2001, Ant-Man (Scott Lang, the character we’ll see in the upcoming movie) joined in 2002, and Captain Britain joined in 2004. The New Avengers, thanks to a massive super-villain breakout, is formed of Luke Cage, a.k.a. Power Man, Wolverine, Sentry, and Echo. The Civil War, which pitted hero against hero, had the New Avengers become an anti-registration group, and had the following members join the original Avengers: Ares, Amadeus Cho, Jocasta, Stature, and Vision. Only Amadeus Cho and Stature survived, though Stature was resurrected.
The New Tens
After the events of Dark Reign and Siege, Captain America (James Barnes) and Spider-Woman joined in May of 2010, while Valkyrie, Sharon Carter, Nova, and Ant-Man (a third, Eric O’Grady) joined the Secret Avenger at the same time. Power Woman joined the New Avenger in June of 2010, Flux joined the Avengers in September of 2010, Protector (a.k.a. Marvel Boy) joined in December of 2010, while Doctor Strange joined the new Avengers at the same time. Red Hulk joined the Avengers in June of 2011. After the Fear Itself event, the teams were shifted by Captain America. Daredevil, Storm, Quake, Captain Britain (a different one), and Venom joined the Avengers and the Secret Avengers.
In 2012 the Marvel event Avengers vs. X-Men took place, and following that the teams were again shifted, along with a number of new additions. Havok, younger brother of Scott “Cyclops” Summers, joined in October of 2012. In December, Cannonball, Sunspot, Manifold, Shang-Chi, Captain Universe, Smasher, and Hyperion joined. In January of ’13, Rogue joined. In February, Sunfire. In July, Doombot and Victor Mancha. In the Infinity storyline (which might find itself drawling parallels to the upcoming Infinity War movies), Abyss, Ex Nihilo, Nightmask, and Star Brand joined in October of ’13. Alexis the Protector joined about the same time, as well as: Ronin, Blue Marvel, Power Man, and White Tiger. Finally, Kaluu joined in November of ’14, Doctor Voodoo in December, and Sabretooth in January of this year.
And you told us all that because:
I could write more. I could write forever. Marvel’s history is long, complicated, and difficult. There are side-teams, spinoffs, betrayals, evil teams, and more deaths and resurrections than most soap operas. Hopefully you’ve stayed though until now, because there is a point to all this: Even for me, someone who spent a long time reading comic books as a kid, the Avengers are too dense. Marvel in particular is too dense. Have you ever seen a timeline of the X-Men? There are just too many characters to have anything be meaningful. At the end of Age of Ultron, the Avengers’ B-team is just short of assembled: Scarlet Witch, War Machine/Iron Patriot, Falcon, Vision, all of which you can find in the list above. While these characters were at least partially set-up, how can we be sure that Marvel won’t continue to add new characters without giving them the time they need to become something the viewers can connect to?
By the movie’s climax, there were 12 heroes: Captain America, Iron man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, War Machine, and Falcon. That’s not even counting villains or non-heroic personnel. Who will we see in the next Avengers? Spider-Man? Doctor Strange? Black Panther? The entire cast of the Guardians of the Galaxy? It’s impossible to have a story when there are two dozen characters to deal with, and I hope Marvel realizes that.
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