After this weekend, “The Avengers” will bring to mind for most people a very different vision from what comic book fans know of the team. The characters in the movie are The Avengers now, but for the last nearly fifty years Black Widow has never really been considered a first team Avenger. Other characters, meanwhile, are left out of the movie entirely.
So without declaring any particularly new classics–like saying that Wolverine or Spider-Man is one of the greatest ever simply on the strength of who they are and the fact that they’re on the team at the moment–here are our picks for the top 10 Avengers of all time–who didn’t make the cut in the movie version.
Even though he’s only the butler, Jarvis traditionally has fulfilled the role that filmmaker Joss Whedon has assigned to Agent Coulson in the film–as the heart of the Avengers. The human, and sometimes the point-of-view character, in a room full of godlike beings, Jarvis has kept the team in touch with humanity over the years regardless of how strange their adventures got.
In any of his myriad different looks and under any of a number of aliases, Hank Pym (Ant-Man, Giant Man, Goliath, etc.) has been a fixture of the Avengers’ lineup for years. A founding member whose genius and volatility have made him a fascinating character in spite of being essentially just a dude who can grow and shrink, he’s also managed to bring his wife The Wasp along for the ride–until her death in the line of duty during Secret Invasion.
In the absence of Thor (who of course is sometimes subject to the whims of his own ongoing monthly series), Hercules is one of the great powerhouses in the Marvel Universe and has often been one of the Avengers called in to bust some heads and do the job. Guys like Gladiator, She-Hulk and The Thing would come and go–but Herc was always there when they needed him.
Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch
We’re including these two as a unit because, let’s face it–that’s what they have been for most of their existence. Along with Beast, the pair were a tether to the X-universe that helped give the Avengers the kind of “global” scope Marvel wanted without creating any real conflicts by recruiting someone like Cyclops or Wolverine. In recent years, of course, the House of M event has shone a brighter-than-ever spotlight on Scarlet Witch who, as one of the only characters legally able to be used in both the Avengers and X-Men movies, will likely appear in a film sooner than later.
The onetime Power Man and Hero-For-Hire, once a target for derision, has been one of the most interesting and important characters of the Brian Michael Bendis era on The Avengers. Often the conscience of the team during the turbulent times surrounding Civil War and Secret Invasion, the character is arguably the most high-profile African-American hero in the Marvel Universe and is very deserving of the movie buzz that seems always to be surrounding him.
Wonder Man (& Beast)
Wonder Man is certainly the more powerful of the pair, and the one more closely associated with The Avengers as opposed to the X-Men. But the pair are a pair here for a simple reason: they’re the Blue Beetle and Booster Gold of the Avengers, a duo who worked better together than they ever did apart and who helped define the team through strong characterization and enjoyable subplots for a generation.
Having appeared in The Avengers, West Coast Avengers, Mighty Avengers and Young Avengers, The Vision is one of those character who has spent more time as an Avenger than almost anyone else, who has almost never had solo stories (bolstering the idea that he works best AS an Avenger) and who, like Jarvis, has consistently defied low expectations placed on him by writers, editors and fans to become one of the favorite characters of longtime readers. Rumors that he will subsume another fan-favorite character to play a role in the presumptive sequel to The Avengers film are at this point well-received gossip but it’s hard to argue it wouldn’t be awesome to see.
A character who has had as many different iteration of his costume, personality and powers as anyone this side of Hank Pym, The Black Knight has been one of the handful of great characters created by the legendary Avengers creative team of Roy Thomas and John Buscema. Bringing a fantastical/magical version sensibility to the team that’s often missing from mainstream superhero titles, he changed the makeup of the team and often was able to solve problems that left other characters scratching their heads.
Before Luke Cage rose to prominence, the most popular African-American superhero in the Marvel Universe was Black Panther. Despite having a name that was a little on-the-nose, he managed to be a well-rounded character who has brought something tangible first to The Avengers and later to the Marvel Knights line before recently making headlines when he married Storm of the X-Men. Whose side he’ll take in the whole Avengers vs. X-Men thing is anyone’s guess.
Let’s face it–she’s cooler than her other half. It’s hard to forget Hawkeye’s first miniseries, the first issue of which included a cool and well-choreographed fight scene between Hawkeye and Mockingbird, a strangely-attired slip of a woman who came into the first issue of his own title and bested him fairly easily in a fair fight. The tense romantic undertones and rough combat seems to have been translated to the screen with Black Widow–hopefully we’ll see Bobbi Morse in the next one, though, because it would be a real shame to lose her.