And there came a day unlike any other: when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were ranked on part three of our definitive list! There have been a ton of members of the mightiest superteam in the Marvel Universe. Some have been greater than others. In this third part, we will finally look at the greatest Avengers of all time. This includes team founders, classic members of the team, some newer heroes, and a few greats who only briefly counted themselves amongst the Avengers.
As a reminder these are the rules: each hero gets ranked based on four major factors. First is their superpowers. This is Earth’s Mightiest Heroes after all. Are they powerful? Are their special abilities unique? More points are given to characters with greater powers, but also to those who can do things no one else can. Thor ranks very highly here, Hawkeye does not. Next up is their personality. Are they a team player? Would you want to be on a team with them? Captain America ranks highly in this category, Quicksilver ranks near the bottom. Third, the characters were rated in how interesting they are. This is determined by looking at how many excellent Avengers stories they appeared in, how much they contributed to those stories, and whether or not they could (and have) headlined a solo series. Spider-Man ranks highly here, Swordsman does not. Finally, there is a factor that we will call “classic Avengers status.” Preference is given to heroes that served with the team a long time, and was with the team for critical moments. Vision ranks very highly here, Wolverine has certainly been an Avenger for many issues of comics, but he does not rank as highly.
Check out the other parts of the Avengers list
Part 1: Earth’s Wimpiest Heroes here
Part 2: Earth’s Most Adequate Heroes here
Everyone on the same page? Those four categories taken together give us the scientifically precise and irrefutable Avengers score. Today we’ll take a look at characters who excelled in one or two of our categories, but couldn’t master all four. For our purposes, there have been 96 official members of the Avengers. Again, this is not to rank them simply as characters, but also as members of the world’s most powerful super team.
#33 Scarlet Witch
Man, Wanda Maximoff can’t catch a break. A member of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet,” the first big shake-up to the Avenger’s lineup, the Scarlet Witch is powerful and classic. She’s been on the team for longer than almost anyone, and stuck with it, going over to the West Coast and coming back again. By all rights she should be in the top ten. What knocks her so far down is “Avengers Disassembled” and everything that followed it. After having a huge breakdown, Wanda killed a good number of her teammates and was involuntarily made a villain since then. It’s only recently that she’s been on a track for redemption but doing more damage to the team than any supervillain is a tough reputation to shake.
#32 War Machine
Derivative heroes lose points in this ranking, and as cool as James Rhodes is, the War Machine is basically just Iron Man with more obvious guns. The thing is, Rhodey also served the team as Iron Man, and arguably did a better job than Tony Stark. He was Iron Man during “Secret Wars,” boosting his classic Avengers status, plus he served the team on the West Coast Avengers. Rhodey’s real power is his reliability. Even in the face of heightened comic book drama, you can always count on War Machine.
Sam Wilson is another example of a character who seems really cool because of the movies, but is actually a whole lot more complicated. Movie!Sam is a charming war vet, but originally in the comics Sam “Snap” Wilson was a pimp who received the ability to talk to birds from the Red Skull via the Cosmic Cube. A lot less auspicious. Still, Sam has transcended his mostly boring superpowers (flying is typical, talking to birds is pretty neat) by being a long serving Avenger who always supports the team and never causes a ton of superhero drama. He also gets a boost for becoming Captain America and leading the team through a number of high profile conflicts. Was he Cap through the best comics? That’s debatable, but leading the Avengers is always a significant assignment.
One of the cornerstones of the West Coast Avengers, Bobbi Morse has a lot going for her. She’s the more competent half of the Hawkeye/Mockingbird duo, and is probably the most successful “Female Superspy” ever on the Avengers, having never been significantly brainwashed or turned evil. She sacrificed her life for the team and even when that was retconned away, escaping an alien abduction and going right back out there into the field is pretty badass. She has another edge on the team’s other Superspies: she’s a talented biologist, adding “superscientist” to her list of talents. Finally, after receiving a blood transfusion from Steve Rogers, she has Captain America levels of strength and agility, which added to her already impressive performance makes her the top spy in the Marvel universe.
The Man Without Fear should be much lower on this list. He’s been historically derisive of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, resisting membership for years. Matt Murdock is not much of a team player, but he has a strong moral core and he always gets the job done. His Avengers highlight was serving with the team during “Fear Itself” and leading the fight against Mecha Nazis in the streets of Manhattan. His relatively high placement is due to his potential. Matt is one of the top superheroes in New York. If he ever wanted to, he could be a top Avenger.
Daisy Johnson should never have been an Avenger. She’s supposed to be an actual spy; she has superpowers, but she works behind the scenes, in the shadows. You can almost see that in her face as Steve Rogers practically dragged her onto the stage for his umpteenth press conference announcing a new Avengers lineup. It was embarrassing for everyone. Still, Quake has a hell of a resume. Her earthquake powers are crazy-powerful, she’s done everything from assassinating a Latverian baddie with a focused quake-to-the-heart, and she’s brought down an entire Hydra base by herself. She ran S.H.I.E.L.D. before she was old enough to drink. Maybe Daisy shouldn’t of been an Avenger, but she was, and she’s already more impressive than most Avengers with twice her age and experience.
#27 Invisible Woman
The best mom in the Marvel Universe joined the Avengers at the same time as her way-lamer husband, Mr. Fantastic did after “Inferno.” She’s not a classic Avenger by any means, but Sue Storm is definitely one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Despite her name, invisibility is just a small portion of her powers. She can turn other stuff invisible too, and make nigh-unbreakable force fields that are useful pretty much all the time. She’s supportive and maternal, and frankly most of these Avengers could use a positive mother-figure in their lives. Above all else, she’s got the most moral sense of any superhero. She opposed her stupid husband during “Civil War,” she ran interference for the Avengers during “Dark Reign” and she’s pretty much the only one who can shut Namor down when he’s being an ass. The Avengers need to keep Invisible Woman on speed-dial, because she’s showing them how it’s done.
#26 Jessica Jones
She’s been Jewel, she’s been Knightress, but she served the Avengers for like, two minutes as Power Woman, which seems an ill-advised name choice, but whatever, Jessica is awesome. She joined the Avengers briefly when Norman Osborn had her husband Luke Cage kidnapped, but for the most part, Jessica has been more of a supporting player. Still, she’s probably one of the most effective forces of calling the Avengers out when they need to be, and despite constantly claiming she has no place on the super-team, she always finds herself working with them in the most dire of straights. And, she’s a more interesting character than most of the all-time Avengers.
#25 Ant Man/Giant Man/Yellowjacket/Wasp (Hank Pym)
Hank Pym is the worst. Let’s be clear, he’s a founding Avenger and that gets you pretty far. He can grow real big, shrink real small, and talk to bugs, all of which are cool powers and when you put them together that’s pretty formidable. But Hank is unstable, often abusive, just a huge drag to be around. He invented Ultron, arguably making him as much of a menace as Scarlet Witch. Still, Hank has also quietly done some top-tier Avenging. During the “Dark Reign” he formed the Mighty Avengers, who actually saved people while the secretive New Avengers hid and beat up supervillains, with little to show for it. He also founded the Avengers Academy, which gave a place for at risk superpowered kids to become heroes rather than villains. That’s a rad idea, and for the most part, it worked! Hank’s compassion and relatability should make him one of the greats, but he eventually always returns to his crazy ways. And that inventing Ultron thing is hard to shake.
#24 Iron Fist
Danny Rand joined the New Avengers pretty early on, and he served on various incarnations of the team. Danny is too dumb to be one of the Avenger’s heavies, but his kung fu is pretty strong, his mystic expertise comes in handy and, he’s just so friendly. When he’s not punching demons or kicking ninjas, he’s palling around with Doctor Strange or teaching Hawkeye how to meditate. He also has that ever-useful superpower: money! He founded the New Avengers through “Civil War” and “Dark Reign,” gave them a headquarters and helped keep them sane. Mystic martial artists make for good teammates, but friendly and generous ones are great.
Being Asgardian gives you a big edge when it comes to superheroing. But Val isn’t just a superstrong bruiser (though she also does her share of that). Valkyrie joined the Avengers during the “Heroic Age” not on one of the public teams, but on the Secret Avengers. Even though most of her abilities involve being super tough, she signed on as a secret agent. And she was great at it! She was shown to be at least as good at undercover work as Black Widow, but when the going got tough, she’s also bulletproof. Val has always been more of a Defender than an Avenger, but she’s one of the most powerful and talented and versatile heroes ever to stand in the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest.
A lot of people think Wolverine should never have been an Avenger. There are good arguments to be made there, but the fact remains that he was, and he was a pretty good one. First, let’s acknowledge that Logan checks a lot of our boxes. He’s got a ton of useful powers (healing, claws, super senses) and he’s clearly pretty interesting (he’s had more good solo series than bad). But joining the Avengers was great for Logan’s character development. It helped him transition from stabby-loner to a leader in the mutant community to a leader of the X-Men and an all-time great superhero. More than anyone else, Logan (ironically) has done more for human/mutant relations than anyone ever. He loyally, albeit gruffly, served on the team from the founding of the New Avengers until his death. A big part of the Avengers is rehabilitating people with powers. Consider Wolverine to be one of the team’s greatest success stories.
#21 Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan)
The newest member on this list, Kamala was the first new Avenger announced after “Secret Wars” and she’s one of the best heroes in the Marvel universe. Power-wise, she pretty much has the Mr. Fantastic set of stretchy powers, but somehow manages to make them way less creepy. Personality-wise, she’s one of the most fun and endearing superheroes out there, she supportive but also a fangirl, but neither of those things interfere with her strong moral center. Her solo series has been a bestseller since it came out, and more than one critic has called her this generation’s Peter Parker everyhero. She quickly renounced her Avengers membership- for good reason!- and has acted as the rock and center for a whole new generation of totally rad superheroes.
Joining the Avengers as part of Cap’s Kooky Quartet, Quicksilver is the worst. With all the charm of Namor, this haughty mutant former terrorist has been one of the obnoxious members of the Avengers for most of their existence. Why so highly ranked then? For one, Quicksilver may very well be the “Fastest Man Alive” of the Marvel universe, a title that few can challenge. He’s obscenely powerful. But more importantly, he’s been a member of the Avengers for most of the team’s existence. He never joined his fellow Mutants on the X-Men, and most of his other team memberships don’t last long. Being an Avenger is who Pietro Maximoff is for better or worse.
The final member of Cap’s Kooky Quartet, Clint Barton may be one of the definitive Avengers. The problem is, he’s totally the worst. Worse than Quicksilver! Matt Fraction may have found a charming voice for the archer in his “Hawkeye” series, but for most of his career, Clint has been brash, impulsive, bad at following orders, and creepy around women. On the one hand, his powers of being really, really good with a bow an arrow are laughable. On the other hand, you have to give it to him that despite any real superpowers, he’s been an Avenger for as long as he has. As he gets older, and sort of more mature, Clint is proving himself to be, if not the heart of the Avengers, perhaps their spirit.
#18 Doctor Strange
The Sorcerer Supreme. On a team that allegedly is made up of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, you’d think the guy who’s the best wizard in a whole dimension would qualify. But Stephen Strange has been only an occasional member of the Avengers, first joining the New Avengers when he had lost his title, mostly preferring to take a supporting role. Strange has been irritating at times, but he’s THE guy you go to with mystic problems, and his central role in all things magical has seen him teaming up with the Avengers more and more, and learning to work with a team in the process.
Ororo Munroe had a short and laughable stint with the Avengers. She was trotted out onto a stage at a Captain America press conference, the was knocked unconscious by a powered-up Norman Osborn on her first mission out. Suddenly, it was the “Avengers vs. X-Men” war, she chose the X-Men, was marginalized by them, and then treated like crap by her Avengers husband Black Panther, who divorced her. Not the most impressive resume. You know what is? Being the best leader the X-Men have ever seen, dealing with some of the greatest threats in the galaxy. The lady can control the weather. That’s crazy powerful. And, once you remember that the Avengers are the best superheroes on Earth, you kind of have to question why so many of them are from the same continent. Storm is one of the most powerful, the most put together, and most experienced superheroes on the planet. The Avengers should be begging her to join.
Let’s get one thing straight. The Hulk was a founding Avenger, but only a technicality. He was brought together with the other founders by Rick Jones to beat Loki. You know how many issues he was on the team for? He quite by the end of issue 2, published in 1963. He wouldn’t officially join the team again until the end of “Avengers vs X-Men” in 2012. Hulk hardly counts as an Avenger. We’ll give him some credit for being a founder, but let’s not overinflate the idea just because we liked Hulk in the movies. Still, Hulk is the strongest there is, and one of the most enduring heroes of the Marvel universe. He’s pretty damn mighty, and has been a good recent addition to the team, but he is no classic Avenger.
There’s nothing Ben Grimm can’t do. You can send him back in time to find pirate gold, and he’ll be declared Blackbeard, you can put him in a boxing match against the best fighter in the Universe and he’ll show he has the heart of a champion. He was only an Avenger briefly, on the New Avengers team, but the Thing has been consistently shown to be almost as strong as the Hulk, but with none of the rage problems. In fact, he’s downright lovable. Currently emancipated from the Fantastic Four, Aunt Petunia’s Favorite Blue-Eyed Nephew should be the first hero the Avengers give a call to.
#14 Nova (Richard Rider)
When he first came onto the scene, Richard Rider was sort of like Peter Parker with the powers of Green Lantern. He was a nice middle-class kid from Long Island, and he could do a whole bunch of stuff, but it mostly amounted to controlling gravity to fly around and shoot lasers. Then the Annihilation War happened and Rich turned into one of the biggest baddasses in the Galaxy. He was the only survivor of the entire Nova Corp, and absorbed their combined power- which is insane by the way- and he became the receptacle for the Xandarian Worldmind, one of the smartest artificial intelligences ever to exist. Suddenly, Rich found himself as a seriously heavy hitter, going up against the likes of Thanos and Galactus. He was only on the Secret Avengers for one mission, before he sacrificed himself to trap Thanos in the Cancerverse. Nova is more than the mightiest hero of Earth, he’s one of the mightiest heroes in existence, a good-hearted war veteran, and a deeply human guy.
Jessica Drew has an insanely powerful backstory but in a nutshell- her parents were Hydra, they designed her to be a superbaby, she became a spy, and later joined the New Avengers, only it wasn’t really her, it was the Skrull Queen pretending to be her. She later actually joined the team, and after a respectable stint, called it quits to get her personal life together. As you may have noticed, there are a lot of lady superspies on the Avengers over the years, and Jess has a leg up on them for having powers that help her do the job. Beside the requisite strength and agility, and her nifty glider suit, Spider-Woman can shoot “venom blasts” (which really, really hurt, but don’t kill) and has a degree of emotions control through her super pheromones. That makes her able to fill a really cool niche in a way no other hero could. Couple that with her strong friendships with fellow Avengers Captain Marvel and Black Widow, and Jess is the kind of hero you want on a big super team.
#12 Luke Cage
For a while, Luke Cage was the Avengers. He’s bulletproof and pretty strong, but his high ranking is due to how responsible he is for keeping the Avengers alive. He was one of the first heroes to join the New Avengers, after Scarlet Witch destroyed the old team. He and Iron Fist kept the team going throughout “Dark Reign”. Luke wasn’t the official leader, but everyone turned to him constantly. When Steve Rogers returned to lead the Avengers, Luke bought Avengers Mansion from him for a dollar (it was Iron Fist’s dollar actually) and led the New Avengers from there. Then after “Avengers vs X-Men,” after swearing he was done with Avengers stuff, he ended up putting together the “Mighty Avengers,” who he mentored and led from the sidelines. Whenever it looks like the Avengers are over, Luke Cage is the force that keeps them going, making him one of the best Avengers of all time.
I’m sure you think of Hank McCoy as an X-Man, and you’re right, but Beast got his blue fur and bombastic personality while he was an Avenger. He joined the Avengers around the same time Storm and Wolverine were joining the X-Men and immediately entered a deep and adorable bromance with Wonder Man. He became the kind of guy who recites Shakespeare sonnets while hanging upside down and hacking the mainframe. He’s beyond smart, beyond lovable, and was one of the most supportive heroes on the Avengers. Whenever he runs with the X-Men too long, Hank gets depressed and grouchy, which is why he should stick with the superhero team that appreciates him, the Avengers.
Appearing “like some kind of unearthly human Vision,” the powerful synthoid is a combination of a number of other Avengers, who was built by one of the Avengers greatest enemies, who in turn was built by a founding Avenger. Can you get much more Avenger than that? Combining the body of the android Human Torch and a copy of Wonder Man’s mind, Vision has been one of the most enduring members of the superteam. He can fly, phase through things, turn diamond hard, shoot lasers and do other roboty things. The Vision is one of the greats, the only thing holding him back is his propensity for getting hacked or turned temporarily evil. He has a surprising amount of personal drama for a sometimes unfeeling robot. Still, between his powers and his personality, Vision is a hero you want protecting you.
#9 Spectrum/Photon/Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau)
First of all, Monica Rambeau led the Avengers during the first “Secret War.” That counts for a lot (which is probably why she talks about it all the time). As the original successor to Captain Mar-Vell, Monica has a great legacy, and is one of the most powerful heroes on Earth, being able to turn into and control any type of wave on the electromagnetic spectrum. I won’t lecture you on physics, but that’s crazy. That’s heat, lasers, invisibility, illusions, flying, and radiation, not to mention the weird stuff like directed EMP blasts or controlling radio-wave signals. Monica Also joined Luke Cage’s Mighty Avengers and since then has been a staple on all of the powerful superteams. One of the greatest heroes on Earth who led the Avengers through one of their most famous conflicts is top 10 Avenger material.
I know there are people out there who thinks Spider-Man should never have been an Avenger, but he is, so we need to consider him, and we all know that Spider-Man is one of the greatest superheroes of all time. He has a combination of typical powers and abilities (speed, strength, a brilliant scientific mind) and weird ones (wall-crawling, webbing, spider sense) which give him utility and also make him interesting. He’s funny (some might say annoying) and has a big heart. He’s been headlining one of the most popular comics of all time, for decades, so we know he’s interesting. And, since getting official membership to the Avengers in “New Avengers,” he’s been a consistent presence on the team, leading the Avengers against an alliance of his villains and later taking out Phoenix powered versions of Colossus and Magik using nothing but his wily ways, proving he can win fights way out of his weight class. Spider-Man has been an Avenger for over a decade, and I would say he’s been a damn good one.
Take the strength of a Hulk but give it to a top lawyer with a degree from UCLA and who do you have? She-Hulk! Jennifer Walters is super strong, but she doesn’t have to go nuts with anger to get there. She’s also wicked smart, and totally fun to be around. She’s even been trained by Gamora, the deadliest woman in the galaxy, in the kinds of martial arts the Earth doesn’t even know about. Sure, there have been a few occasions when Jen has lost control of her Hulk and gone on a rampage, but there have been far, far more times that the world would have perished without her. Her biggest problem is partying too hard, and honestly, next to all of the other mopey, angsty Avengers, that sounds like a problem most of them could use.
You want to talk about the classics? Janet van Dyne founded the Avengers, and even named it, because she thought “Avengers” sounded cool. She can shrink and shoot energy blasts, and you’d be a fool to underestimate her. She’s designed costumes for most of the core team members and is one of the most beloved superheroes as voted on by her fellow Avengers. She was elected chairman of the Avengers, and led the team through some of their most well known stories, including “Under Siege,” one of the darkest moments in Avengers history. Janet is a classic Avenger, one of the original size-changers, and one of the most celebrated Avengers in the team’s history.
#5 Iron Man
It should come as no surprise that Tony Stark is a high ranking Avenger. He helped found the team and has served on it more than almost any other super hero. He’s led it on occasion, and helped revive it as the New Avengers. His genius led him to create his suit of armor, which has proven itself to be a versatile and potent set of superpowers. What’s holding him back from the top spot? His attitude. Tony Stark can be an amusing and charismatic jerk, but he can also be a real scumbag, and his teammates know it. His struggle with alcoholism and general instability made him less than totally reliable, and who can forget his betrayal of the team during the first Civil War? Still, even when he crosses the line, Tony always finds himself returning to the Avengers, supporting them, financing them, and leading them in the fight against evil.
#4 Black Panther
My personal favorite Avenger, T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, is just the coolest. He’s got heightened strength, speed, agility, and senses, and his indestructible vibranium suit and claws make for effective tools in the hands of a master of stealth and combat. Additionally, T’Challa is one of the smartest Avengers of all time, matching Tony Stark in technical ability, and rivaling all but Doctor Strange in mystic know-how. He’s a warrior, a leader, a researcher, and a total badass. Unfortunately for his Avengers team standing, T’Challa’s first responsibility is to his country, which has led him to spy on or betray the team on a number of occasions. Black Panther is the most qualified superhero on the planet, but his divided loyalties mean that he falls just shy of being the best Avenger of all time.
#3 Captain America
On a lot of lists, it’s a given that Steven Grant Rogers will take the number one Avengers spot, and for good reason. Steve has led the team more than any other hero, and is an aspirational figure, standing for what his country could be and not just what it is. His strength and speed are at superhuman levels, and his indestructible shield is one of the coolest weapons in the world of superheroes. Steve’s best quality is his unshakable belief in justice and goodness. He didn’t face Thanos in single combat because he thought he would win, he did it because backing down from the fight against evil was the wrong thing to do. Still, Steve isn’t the most powerful superhero, and he’s also had his share of naive mistakes, but there’s no denying that Captain America is one of the greatest and most essential Avengers of all time.
God of Thunder, Prince of Asgard, the mighty Thor is the most powerful of the Avengers founders, and one of the most consistent presences on the team throughout their many incarnations. He can be brash at times, and some mortals don’t like hanging out with a god and his enormous sense of self-worth, but Thor has been a stalwart hero more often than not. He puts his hammer where his mouth is, and is so powerful that he makes villains think twice before getting up to nefarious schemes. Even when he’s being a little bit much, Thor is a fun guy to be around, always up for sharing a drink, throwing a party, or a having a serious talk. As one of the strongest and oldest members of the team, there are few who can boast being greater than Thor.
#1 Ms./Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)
When she first got her powers and joined the team, Carol Danvers was a pretty big deal. Then the Avengers had to go and wrong her, letting her be impregnated by a creepy dude, who she then gave birth to (!!), watched him grow up, mind control her and kidnap her. The Avengers were cool with that, so it’s no surprise that Carol left them to hang out with the X-Men for a while. When she returned to the Avengers around the time of “Civil War,” she had years of experience as an adventurer and a superhero on top of her already impressive resume as an air force pilot. When she finally stepped up and took on the mantle of Captain Marvel, she was one of the greatest superheroes in the universe, with Thor level strength on an Average day, plus the ability to fly and project energy. When she really cuts loose, she has huge, cosmic levels of power, being able to face down the Phoenix Force and living to talk about it. What’s more, Carol has a bravery and moral compass as unshakable as Captain America. What do you get when you combine the goodness of the number three entry on this list with the sheer power of the number two entry on this list? Captain Marvel, the mightiest Avenger of all time.
And that’s it, a list that I am sure no one will take any issue with in the least. The Avengers have been on a heavy recruitment drive for the last few years; there are new heroes joining their roster every day. Some will be counted with the greats, and some will be relegated to the ranks of the forgotten. None of them will be as awful as Starfox. Probably.
Have anything to add? Is there a more recent Avenger addition you want to place on this list? Surprised as to who made the top 10? Do you agree utterly with my flawless ranking methods? Hit me up @Rambling_Moose on Twitter or let us know down in the comments!