The Mighty Avengers have been Marvel Comics’ premiere “all-star” collection of heroes for sixty years. And during that time, across the media of comics, animation, live-action film, and video games, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have had many different rosters. But which iteration of the Avengers has been the best across different media? Here are our picks for the ten best Avengers lineups over the past six decades.
10. Marvel’s Avengers Video Game Team
Video games haven’t delivered quite the same amount of incredible rosters for the Avengers as comics or film. And although the 2020 Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics game Marvel’s Avengers wasn’t the runaway hit that many were hoping for, the team in the game was still pretty great. It focused on the version of the Avengers we saw from their first live-action film, but added two very important members—Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), and Hawkeye (Kate Bishop). Eventually, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Black Panther (T’Challa), and the Winter Soldier became playable characters as well. The game never lived up to the roster they used. But credit where credit is due; this was a formidable team.
Members of Marvel’s Avengers Team
Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Hawkeye (Clint Barton) Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Thor (Jane Foster), the Winter Soldier
9. The All-New, All-Different Avengers
In 2015, Marvel Comics infused a lot of new blood into the Avengers with the All-New, All-Different Avengers. Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Adam Kubert and Mahmud Asrar, it featured some of the youngest members to ever serve on the main flagship team. While Tony Stark’s Iron Man remained in the lineup, this version had Jane Foster as Thor, Sam Wilson as Captain America, and the Vision. But it also contained teen heroes like Spider-Man Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), and Nova (Sam Alexander). This team would be dissolved after just 15 issues, when the younger heroes forged their own team, the Champions. But for a brief time, they were a pretty memorable roster of Avengers.
Members of the All-New, All-Different Avengers Team
Iron Man (Tony Stark), Captain America (Sam Wilson), Thor (Jane Foster), Vision, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Nova (Sam Alexander)
8. The West Coast Avengers
It took over 20 years from their debut, but the Avengers finally got their first official spin-off team in 1984 with the series West Coast Avengers. Hawkeye (Clint Barton) moved to Southern California, and started a new team with classic members. WCA added characters whom Marvel had long relegated to second-stringer status l ike Wonder Man (Simon Williams) and Tigra. But it also introduced new important additions like Mockingbird, Moon Knight, and the U.S. Agent. Eventually, this Avengers team decided to ditch the name, and became the atrociously named Force Works in the early ‘90s. But for several years, they were a top-tier Avengers team, with a pretty “all killer/no filler.”
Members of the West Coast Avengers
Hawkeye, Iron Man (James Rhodes, Tony Stark), Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hank Pym, Tigra, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, Moon Knight, Human Torch (Jim Hammond), Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), U.S. Agent
7. The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Animated Team
The original animated Avengers: United They Stand series from 1999 left a lot to be desired. But Marvel got it right with their second attempt in 2010, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. This animated line-up featured a cast of core Avengers heroes that most fans might expect from the original comics. One inspired largely by the ’70s and ’80s rosters. But the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes team also expanded into an early 2000s New Avengers-inspired roster, featuring the likes of Spider-Man, Wolverine, War Machine, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Although, there were some puzzling omissions (Hey, where’s Wanda?), this cartoon version of the team was ultimately a hard one to beat.
Members of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, the Wasp, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), Hawkeye, Black Widow, Spider-Man, Wolverine, War Machine, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, the Thing
6. Roger Stern’s Mid-’80s Avengers
By the mid-’80s, Uncanny X-Men had overtaken Avengers and the Fantastic Four as Marvel Comics’ biggest-selling team book. Then, in an effort to compete, Avengers series writer Roger Stern got a little experimental. He introduced a new Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, to the team, quickly making her team leader. While stalwarts like Cap and Thor stayed, members like She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) and Wasp (Janet Van Dyne) got a big boost during this run, including a long stint with Wasp as team leader. And they propped long-missing members like Hercules and the Black Knight up, and even the “doesn’t play well with others” Namor joined the team. Of course, this roster had two of the worst members ever, Dr. Druid, and the eternally horny Eternal, Starfox. But no Avengers lineup is perfect.
Members of the Mid-’80s Avengers
Captain America, Thor, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) Hercules, Namor, Starfox, the Black Knight, Doctor Druid.
5. Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers Team
After the Scarlet Witch decimated her former team in Avengers: Disassembled, the group was in pieces. Sales hadn’t been great for the Avengers, and even previous writer Geoff Johns, who would create huge hits for rival DC, couldn’t really spruce up attention for the team. Enter superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Finch who expanded the Avengers into something fans had never seen. Captain America and Iron Man remained (Thor was dead at the time), but they finally added Marvel superstar characters like Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Luke Cage to the roster at last. And long-abandoned heroine Spider-Woman became a member during this era as well. Sure, she was secretly a Skrull, but the real one joined eventually. This run also saw Clint Barton transition from Hawkeye to Ronin. This roster was such a hit with readers, New Avengers overtook X-Men in sales for the first time in decades.
Members of the New Avengers
Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ronin, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Spider-Woman, Sentry, Echo
4. The Avengers: Age of Ultron Final Battle Roster
The Avengers from the original film are pretty iconic themselves, a mix of the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby team, with a dash of 2000s alt-universe series The Ultimates. Who can forget their circular pre-battle shot in the first film? But the best MCU Avengers roster, for our money, came in film two, Avengers: Age of Ultron. They came together in what many consider the least loved Avengers sequel. But this roster not only had all the MCU founding members from the first film, but also new recruits War Machine, the Vision, Scarlet Witch, and (ever so briefly) Quicksilver. They all still make for the most formidable big-screen Avengers team, even if they only lasted for this one film. But as Vision said in Age of Ultron, “A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.”
Members of the Avengers: Age of Ultron Team
Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision
3. Steve Englehart’s 1970s/Early 1980s Avengers
From about 1975-1980, writer Steve Englehart created some of the most iconic stories to ever run in the pages of Avengers, showcasing what many believe solidified the team’s most popular roster for decades. During this era, which featured such iconic stories as “The Celestial Madonna” and “The Korvac Saga,” Englehart collaborated with an up-and-coming artist named George Perez, who would become the team’s most defining penciler, but also wrote the last ever Jack Kirby Avengers stories. This roster featured most of the original members (sans poor Hulk), as well as newer additions like Moondragon and Hellcat. Former X-Man Beast joined up and became besties with Wonder Man, a once-forgotten member. Even the Guardians of the Galaxy were made honorary members during this run. A truly GOATed iteration of Marvel’s most iconic heroes.
Members of the ’70s/’80s Avengers
Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Wasp, Yellowjacket, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, Beast, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), Black Panther, Black Widow, Hellcat, Moondragon, Jocasta
2. Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers
In the wake of the enormous success of the MCU Avengers in 2012, Marvel relaunched the book with writer Jonathan Hickman. Not only did he use the complete roster from the film, but also heroes from the previous New Avengers run like Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Spider-Woman. Plus, he added several new characters, and even a few former X-Men like Sunspot and Cannonball. This run was mind-blowing in its scope and imagination, introducing concepts like Avengers World. And Hickman found a role for each member of this super-sized team to play in the cosmic proceedings. Hickman’s team really was a “best of every era” roster. Together, they pushed the very concept of what the Avengers were meant to be within the Marvel Universe.
Members of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers Team
Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), Spider-Man, Shang-Chi, Wolverine, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Falcon, Wasp, Hank Pym, Hyperion, Captain Universe, Star Brand, Manifold, Abyss, Nightmask, Smasher, Ex Nihilo, Cannonball, Sunspot
1. Kurt Busiek’s ’90s “Heroes Return” Avengers Team
In 1996, Marvel gave several of their most iconic properties to the Image Comics founders Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld for one year, who wrote stories about them in a separate pocket universe. Then, one year later, they came back to the 616 universe, in a new #1 “Heroes Return” issue by writer Kurt Busiek and returning artist George Perez (and later, Alan Davis and Carlos Pacheco). Busiek’s team featured a truly classic roster. But he also added former New Warriors stars Firestar and Justice, along with newcomer Triathlon, adding a much-welcome rookie POV. Busiek’s four-year run on Avengers is still the gold standard, and his team lineup was pretty much perfect. It resulted in some of the best Avengers stories ever, with a collection of some of the best Marvel heroes to ever respond to the call “Avengers, Assemble!”
Members of Kurt Busiek’s Avengers Team
Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), Firestar, Justice, Triathlon, Wasp, Hank Pym, She-Hulk, Quicksilver, Black Widow, Quasar, Jack of Hearts, Silverclaw.