They're called Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but some of the are mightier than others. We've broken down all of the official Avengers — minus a few too recent to judge — to determine who should be assembled first when evil strikes.
1) Captain America
Although Cap wasn't a founding member of the Avengers — he wasn't unfrozen from his block of ice until issue #4 — he's come to epitomize the Avengers more than any other. He's been the leader of the team for most its existence.
Hulk may be the strongest Avenger, but there's no doubt Thor is the mightiest. Not only is he a god — and a god worthy of one of the most powerful weapons in the universe at that — he's been an integral part of the Avengers since founding it in 1963, despite having to protect all the nine realms.
3) The Wasp
If Captain America epitomizes the Avengers, Janet Van Dyne is still its heart and soul. She was a founding member, has led the team through some of its most difficult moments, and has the unequivocal respect of gods, robots, and the most powerful beings in the cosmos. Marvel actually put it best when it said if the Avengers were asked to rank themselves, The Wasp would likely be #1.
For all that his "superpower" is shooting arrows really good, Hawkeye has somehow become one of the most indispensable members of the team. As "a regular guy," Hawkeye keeps the Avengers grounded in a way no other member can — a vastly underrated quality that has helped make the team as successful as it has been.
5) Iron Man
He's a founding member of the Avengers in both the comics and the movies, and its his wealth that keeps the organization funded. But despite the fact RDJ has become the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the comics' Tony Stark is constantly distracted from the team because his personal life is a disaster. He's obviously a major part of the team, but the Avengers have frequently done just fine without him.
6) Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel
Marvel's answer to Superman and Wonder Woman, but much better, Carol Danvers is one of the Avengers' heaviest-hitters, which is saying something when its ranks include Thor and Hulk. Since she took the name Captain Marvel, she's become so indispensable to the Avengers it's unlikely the team will ever be without her again.
7) The Vision
The android "son" of one of the Avengers' deadliest foes, Ultron, the Vision quickly disobeyed his "father" and became a hero. Despite being a robot, he is one of the Avengers' best-loved members (often physically).
8) Hank Pym
For good or ill, Hank Pym is part of the Avengers' DNA. He founded it and has been a key member for most of its existence, despite his habit of switching superhero names and powers. He's had his problems over the years — several of them, in fact — but he's proven himself to be an Avenger time and time again.
I'm sorry to long-time Avengers fans still irked that Marvel shoehorned their most popular character onto their most popular group in 2005, but he should have always been on the team. He's a natural fit, both in the comics universe and reality.
10) Monica Rambeau, Captain Marvel
Monica Rambeau's tenure with the Avengers was brief, but she quickly proved herself among Earth's Mightiest Heroes. With the ability to turn herself into any part of the electromagnetic spectrum, she's immensely powerful, but it was her character that so impressed her teammates, she became the leader of the Avengers soon after joining.
11) Black Panther
Black Panther is a tremendous hero of power, virtue and integrity. But when it comes to choosing between the Avengers and Wakanda, the nation he rules, his loyalties are divided, and his frequent appearances and disappearances on the team reflect that.
13) Black Widow
Since she's a former Russian spy, the Avengers have had frequent trust issues with Natasha Romanov. But despite that, she's been one of the most venerable Avengers, even serving as the team leader for a bit.
14) Scarlet Witch
A powerful sorceress and frequent member who would be ranked higher if she didn't have an unfortunate habit of going insane and murdering her teammates/creating fictional children.
The Scarlet Witch's brother isn't crazy, but he's frequently a huge asshole. However, when he can get over himself, he's used his super-speed to help save the world as an Avenger on many occasions.
Few Marvel heroes seem to fit on every team, but She-Hulk is definitely one of them. Some people may know her better as a member of the Fantastic Four than the Avengers, but she's been an Avenger for much more of her career.
Calling Hercules a cross between Thor and Hulk — a super-strong god who usually punches before he thinks — is accurate, but the boisterous, vain, cocky hero frequently bring as much character to the team as he does power.
Usually, X-Men who join the Avengers stick out like a sore, mutated thumb. Beast is the exception. Brilliant, erudite, and without a massive chip on his shoulder about the state of mutant-kind, he's frequently been called on.
While Sam Wilson is currently a major part of the Avengers as the new Captain America, he's only become a regular member of the team over the last decade.
Yes, now the Hulk is major part of the Avengers (thanks in part to the movies) and yes, Hulk even helped found the team. But he also quit almost immediately, and only recently joined back up. The Avengers have spent far more of their history stopping the Hulk than working with him.
21) War Machine
Whether he's been wearing his War Machine armor or masquerading as Iron Man (he was actually in the first Secret Wars, not Tony Stark), James Rhodes has always been a dependable Avenger.
22) Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman
Brian Michael Bendis' love for Jessica Drew has turned Spider-Woman into one of the more prominent comic Avengers; while a formidable hero, she doesn't really bring that much to the team that Black Widow and Spider-Man don't already.
23) Luke Cage, Power Man
A more recent addition to the Avengers ranks, Luke Cage has already begun to lead Avengers teams, although he also has no problem quitting if something comes up.
Putting the most popular mutant on the Avengers seems like it would be a good idea as adding Spider-Man, but it doesn't work. Partially because Wolverine is a bit too murder-y for the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and also because Wolverine still pretends he's a loner when he's on basically every team in the Marvel U.
25) Wonder Man
One of the more frequent Avengers, Wonder Man is still better known for being a Hollywood actor and wearing stupid glasses. Still, he's been there for a large part of Avengers' history.
26) The Black Knight
As a dude with a magical ebony sword and a flying robot horse-ship, the Black Knight was pretty awesome, but his Avengers' tenure was rather unmemorable otherwise.
A popular Avenger among superheroes and readers, but it doesn't change the fact that her power is mostly being furry and wearing a bikini.
A good Avenger, but a better SHIELD agent.
28) Dr. Strange
The Sorcerer Supreme has been a New Avenger for a while, and as the master of magic, has the potential to be one of the greats. But he still hasn't seemed to properly gel with the team.
29) Namor the Sub-Mariner
The Atlantean prince was only an Avengers briefly, and he was a huge dick for most of it. That said, he's fascinating whenever he tries to work with others.
30) Jessica Jones
A fantastic character who just happens to work far, far better on her own.
31) Maria Hill
Tough as nails, Nick Fury's second-in-command was more than capable enough to head up SHIELD and lead the Avengers. Anyone who can call Tony Stark on his bullshit is alright by us.
32) Moon Knight
Marvel's psychotic version of Batman for some reason was a great Avenger — well, for readers, maybe not for his team members.
33) Iron Fist
The fact that the Avengers have not had more martial arts masters on the team is a shame.
34) Sharon Carter
Another amazing female SHIELD agent that joined the Avengers, but most notable for hooking up with Captain America.
35) Bucky Barnes
While Bucky was the Winter Soldier, Captain America was assassinated, and Bucky decided to carry on the legacy. He did a solid job, but not enough to replace the original for long.
36) Captain Britain
The British equivalent of Captain America has done much of his best work as an Avenger.
37) Scott Lang, Ant-Man
He's Hank Pym but without the genius bits, the growing powers, or, to be fair, the emotional issues.
38) Julia Carpenter, Spider-Woman
Not a long-time Avenger, but certainly an asset.
39) Amadeus Cho
This young genius pals around mostly with Hulk and Hercules, but watching him outsmart the rest of the geniuses on the Avengers was great fun.
The Lady Thor before Thor became a lady.
It was fun seeing the Man Without Fear as a part of a team, but he's just too much of a loner for it to have worked for long.
Mantis has had a bizarre amount of powers and backstory. But none of it really explains why she was an Avenger.
This cult favorite hero did not become a cult favorite for his time on the Avengers.
This Eternal has a lot of powers, but seemed like she won a random Marvel character lottery to join the team.
The best thing you can say about Quasar is that compared to many '90s Avengers, he was too innocuous to be terrible.
46) The Sentry
Marvel's Superman, but with mental issues. He's not a bad character, but he's way too overpowered for the Avengers, and that's saying something.
A Greek god that began as a surly, low-rent Thor, but improved somewhat. The Avengers helped his character a lot more than he helped the Avengers.
48) Daisy Johnson, Quake
Another SHIELD agent that joined the Avengers, she's got a lot of potential.
Not a bad hero, but one who mainly exists to date other heroes, seemingly.
A superhero who joined the Avengers with one month to live. It was even more depressing than you think.
51-54) Storm, Nova, Stature, Flash Thompson as Venom
Awesome characters who were Avengers for so little time, it basically doesn't matter.
This is basically a ninja. A ninja Avenger is a great idea in theory, but Echo spent most of her time causing drama for the team.
56) Marvel Boy
This rebellious alien teen had no business being on the Avengers in the first place.
The '90s knock-off of Thor. Fine for the time, and best forgotten now.
Swordsman's biggest accomplishment as an Avenger is training Hawkeye. Mostly he just wanted to join to get free stuff.
59-62) Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and The Thing
Every member of the Fantastic Four was an Avenger at one point or another. Other than as a marketing gimmick, they served no purpose whatsoever.
The most generic superhero ever created. His name is Justice, for goodness's sake.
64) Jack of Hearts
Basically, someone wanted the Avengers to have Gambit, but crappier in every way.
65) 3-D Man/Triathlon
This strange character with strange, non 3D-related powers is confusing and was apparently hired as an Avengers in the '90s as part of some kind of Affirmative Action.
Basically, the only reason Stingray was able to join the Avengers is because they needed to borrow his hydrobase for a while. True story.
67) Red Hulk
The answer to "What if the Hulk were really lame?" This alter-ego of General Ross has been an Avenger just too much of the modern Marvel era, and been a poor substitute for the original the entire time.
When the Avengers reformed in issue #300, this immortal hero joined the team and managed to make no impact whatsoever. The fact that he's so unimpressive is actually the most impressive thing about him.
The brother of Thanos is best-known for having powers that make people want to have sex, even if it's against their will. When he joined the Avengers, he failed to mention this power. He's skeezy.
70) U.S. Agent
The U.S. Agent is basically psychotic Captain America. He's had his good days when he's helped the Avengers, but he's had just as many bad ones.
That this joke character ever managed to join the Avengers is one of the Marvel universe's greatest shames.
72) Doctor Druid
Doctor Druid is not a druid, and I have my doubts he's a doctor. Despite the fact that his powers are limited to mind control, upon joining the Avengers he had his mind controlled and managed to endanger the entire team. Nice work.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.