Reading Brian Michael Bendis’ The New Avengers lately (first the issues in “Civil War” and now I’m wading through the equally lengthy “Secret Invasion”) I can’t help but think: He just picked whatever superheroes he liked and made them Avengers. I mean, c’mon. Spider-Man?!? Wolverine?!? Luke Cage and Jessica Jones?!? I love Spidey but he’s a neighborhood guy. The same goes for Luke and Jessica; they’re street-level heroes. And Wolverine? The guy’s not a joiner AT ALL let alone randomly becoming an Avenger. Jason Aaron’s done the same thing with his new team. Ghost Rider? Doctor Strange? What the heck?? But then I realized THAT’S WHY YOU’D WANT TO WRITE AVENGERS BECAUSE YOU GET TO DESIGN YOUR OWN TEAM. Moments after this realization hit it naturally led me to consider – Who would fill my Avengers dream team?
While I have all of the Marvel Universe to draw from, I started with three important ground rules for myself.
First, I wasn’t just picking heroes I liked. It had to make sense for them to be on the team. So, for example, while I adore Spider-Man I never understood him being an Avenger. That’s not who he is! His power level and his personality anchor him as a neighborhood hero. The Spidey stories I’ve always like best are the ones where he’s fighting smaller menaces. The big world and/or cosmos and/or reality ending stuff is the territory of the Fantastic Four or the X-Men or, of course, the Avengers. No matter how much I love him, Spider-Man just doesn’t fit there for me.
Second, I excluded all of the “younger” Marvel heroes. Their perspectives and modes of operation naturally differ from the “adult” heroes always leading disagreements inevitably resulting in the kids being sidelined by a “because I said so” defense. So I prefer my teen heroes on youth-oriented teams. I think the youthful roster makes for more interesting storytelling. Plus, if the REALITY ENDING THREATS the Avengers routinely face were honestly on their way, I’d like to think the responsible thing to do would be to have the under twenty crowd dealing with Earth-based crowd control and protection while waiting in the wings should the adults fail to save the day.
As a result of these two qualifiers, many of the characters I love the most are ruled out of my consideration. Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man (Miles Morales OR Peter Parker), Ironheart, Brawn, the Wasp (Nadia Pym), etc. and so on may be first in my heart but they aren’t making the cut for my Avengers roster.
Lastly, I chose to limit myself to nine members maximum. I know the Avengers have been larger and smaller than that over the years but I feel like nine’s a sweet spot. Being an uneven number, you’re never set in how the team will divide. It’s large enough to break into more than two tasks if needed. You can have them all working together without any characters getting lost but there’s plenty of split-up and team-up combinations available too.
With this in mind, the intro/recap page to the Avengers books always reminds us: And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s Mightiest Heroes found themselves united against a common threat! On that day, the Avengers were born, to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand. So, who makes my cut? I list them and my rational for their inclusion below, in the order they occurred to me.
1) Natasha Romanoff – the Black Widow
It’s no secret I love the Black Widow. I think she’s the soul of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as important to their Avengers as Cap and more important than Tony. I’ve always loved her in the comics too. Natasha is the only character I vividly remember from the roster when I started reading Avengers comics in the ‘90s (well I remember a bomber-jacket-wearing Black Knight and Crystal buuuut…let’s leave that to the ‘90s). The Black Widow is strong, intelligent, a natural leader, and a cunning strategist. Of all the heroes in the Marvel Universe, there are few I’d be more scared to see coming at me than Black Widow. She may not have the powers of some of her peers but her resolve is unshakable, her will unbreakable, and she’s willing to do whatever needs to be done to achieve her goal. Plus, she’s a super spy!!! Her espionage background would be invaluable as not every problem is best solved with guns blazing and fists flying. If there’s intelligence needed or undercover work required, she’s second to none. Graceful, subtle, and so deadly, my Avengers need a driving force like Natasha behind them.
2) Steve Rogers – Captain America
I didn’t want to draw too heavily from the classic Avengers lineup because, if the team is just a repurposed original roster, then what’s the point? But I can’t draft an Avengers team and not include Steve Rogers. He’s the heart and conscience of the team. He’s morally incorruptible and while not many of us can follow his lead in that regard, I certainly want a character of his moral caliber calling the shots and standing between me and whatever cosmos-shaking menace is heading to destroy the world this week. Like Natasha, Steve is a natural leader and has a brilliant strategic mind. And of course his Super Soldier Serum makes him the perfect soldier, increasing his strength, speed, reflexes, durability, and even his healing. Plus, is there anyone better to yell “Avengers Assemble!” when Ultron attacks than Captain America? Of course not.
3) Jane Foster – Thor
Given the foes the Avengers face, you need a few heavy hitters on the team and there are few tougher or stronger characters out there than Thor. Obviously I’ve went with the Jane Foster version of Thor because, as I’ve said about a zillion times, she’s my all-time favorite take on the character. I’ve always enjoyed the tension brought to Thor stories when whosoever is holding the hammer will transform back into their mortal form (be it Don Blake, Eric Masterson, Beta Rey Bill, or Jane Foster) if Mjölnir is away from them too long too. Wielding the galaxy-consuming power of the Mother Storm in Mjölnir combined with the strength and invulnerability of an Asgardian, puts Thor on the front line when the Avengers biggest, baddest, strongest foes arrive. Thor’s also a flyer and the team always needs a few members who can get airborne under their own power when needed. Plus, Jane being a doctor allows her to be on the scene immediately to help with triage within the team or help civilians injured during superhero battles.
4) T’Challa – the Black Panther
You also need a brilliant mind to construct the gear the Avengers need and to figure out the complex messes they inevitably find themselves in. You need someone who sees what everyone else misses. Often, this role falls to Tony Stark. But, while I love the character, I often find Tony tiresome in team settings. With T’Challa we get one of the Marvel Universe’s greatest minds and someone who, given the nature of Wakanda, is equally comfortable in the mystical world as the scientific realm. Like Nat and Cap, T’Challa is a natural leader and possesses a brilliant strategic mind. Having multiple leaders on the team, who work well with each other, keeps the Avengers from being directionless if something happens to “the team leader.” Being the King of Wakanda, the Black Panther’s well versed in diplomacy as well. Every threat to the Earth – be it Skrull, Kree, herald of Galactus, or whatever – doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be met with fists firsts. Diplomatic skills alongside heightened strength, speed, durability, and endurance; a battle suit light years ahead of any other advanced tech on Earth; and the blessing of the Panther Goddess Bast makes T’Challa a must have.
4) Janet Van Dyne – the Wasp
I’ve always loved the Wasp! I think it’s a sin how little credit she gets. She is a founding Avenger! She was on the team before Cap! She gave the Avengers their name. Yet when people think of the founding Avengers they think Cap, Iron Man, and Thor. Bah. But I love her and I don’t think any Avengers roster is complete without her. Janet’s smart, savvy, and a successful business woman and fashion designer in her own right. As a fashion mogul and superhero celebrity, she’d have no trouble swinging an invite to the world’s most exclusive events making her an important part of any spy/surveillance work alongside Natasha. She can help fund the team too. Obviously, her power set lets her successfully shrink as well as grow to meet any challenge. Also, she’s another flyer! Janet’s speed, maneuverability, and wasp sting all make her formidable in a fight. She’s classy, clever, and the cornerstone of the Avengers’ historical tradition.
6) Wanda Maximoff – the Scarlet Witch
When it comes to heavy hitters on the team, they don’t come more powerful than Wanda. Her mutant abilities literally let her bend and reshape reality making her – by far – the most powerful member of this team and one of the Marvel Universe’s biggest players. Do I really need to say anything else? Wanda’s got a lengthy history with the team and she represents their connection to the mystical and magical. The Avengers certainly face threats not from this plane of existence and Wanda’s knowledge, experience, and skill set make her the perfect player to fly point when those sorts of enemies arise. Being the daughter of Magneto, she also represents the Avengers connection to the mutant population. Plus, the Scarlet Witch’s powers include energy projection and manipulation. This is key for their long range battles. The Avengers will need people who can strike from a distance and who can counter more than one enemy at a time. Wanda more than checks those boxes.
7) Richard Rider – Nova
I love Nova too! I was a HUGE fan of the New Warriors as a kid and Nova was my favorite of the New Warriors. In the comics, he’s served on the frontline of the Annihilation War and been the soul remaining member of the Nova Corps. He’s another flyer, like Thor and the Wasp, plus he’s fast. A super team needs someone with super speed, right? Well Nova’s our boy. He also holds the entirety of the Nova Force within him. This places him in the upper echelon of the Marvel Universe in regard to strength, speed, invulnerability, stamina, and he has a healing factor to match too. Plus, as Nova, Rich has access to the Worldmind. This sentient supercomputer contains the complete knowledge of the Xandarian people as well as the entire history of the Nova Corps. He can absorb energy too! When the team finds themselves under heavy assault, it’s nice to have a member who can absorb the heat. Just as Scarlet Witch would be the go-to person for all the mystical threats the Avengers face, Nova would fly point when they find themselves in space and/or on other planets.
8) Jennifer Walters – She-Hulk
Standing alongside Thor and Nova, Jennifer would round out the team’s heavy hitters in regard to super strength. Plus we get all the Hulk strength in Jennifer without all the angst and emotional turmoil. I’ve written before, Bruce Banner is a fascinating character but he bums me out. But his cousin Jennifer is smart, sassy, and fully in control of her mental facilities when she Hulks out (normally…I grant her current comic storyline has her carrying her own version of her cousin’s curse…a story beat I find a little hackneyed and not very interesting). As a kid, some of my favorite issues of Fantastic Four were the ones when Jennifer was on the team. She’d bring that same level of fun and excitement to my ideal Avengers! Just like her cousin, she’s one of the strongest ones there is and just about anything anyone can throw at her bounces right off. Anything that manages to break her skin won’t be a problem either because she has the high gear Hulk healing factor too. Also, Jennifer’s a lawyer so should the Avengers ever find themselves in legal trouble, she’d be helpful. This means she’s a great talker too so, just like T’Challa, she can perhaps help skirt problems before they become physical altercations.
9) Wade Wilson – Deadpool
This is probably the big surprise in the set. But I always feel so bad for Deadpool! All he wants is to be included by the superhero community and they always mock and disregard him. Well, if I’m creating my Avengers dream team, the sassin’ assassin gets a spot! He’s worked well on teams before (X-Force, the Uncanny Avengers, his Mercs for Money, etc.). Joe Kelly’s run on Spider-Man/Deadpool showed Wade was capable of not only refraining from killing everyone in sight but he also has the emotional capacity to bring Spider-Man back from the brink, modelling for Spidey the hero he’s always been for Wade. He’s as deadly as Black Widow and he’d be right beside her in skill level for rough, hand-to-hand combat. He’s got an unstoppable healing factor too. Perhaps most importantly, he’d be the comic relief! We need someone crackin’ wise to keep things light and fun.
So there you have it folks, my Avengers dream team! The idea for this post (as for so many of them) came out of a conversation with Jeff the other night. I was telling him I was kicking this around and, after getting excited about the idea, he suggested I open it up to others as well. So consider this your official invitation! If you’d like to play, using whatever parameters you want to set, let me know what your Avengers dream team would be. You can comment below OR if you’d like to, let me know and you’re more than welcome to do your own guest post on the topic! Until inspiration strikes you, feel free to just delight in my mighty team :).
To see who made the cut for Jeff’s Imperial Avengers, click here!