The Avengers is a fictional superhero team whose frequently changing roster often included some of the most popular characters in the Marvel Comics universe.
The team made its debut in The Avengers #1 (cover-dated Sept. 1963), created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby.
Inspired by the success of DC Comics’ Justice League of America, which featured characters such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, Marvel sought to unite its biggest names in a single book.
Much like the Justice League, the Avengers were an assemblage of superheroes who each had an existing series of his own. All of the characters were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Marvel’s team was characterized by internal conflict, and it owed its existence largely to the machinations of a villain. Loki, the Norse god of mischief, maneuvers his half brother, the thunder god Thor, into a
battle against the Hulk. This fracas also attracts the attention of Iron Man and the crime-fighting duo of Ant-Man and the Wasp. Although this quartet at first believes the Hulk to be the villain responsible for an act of railway sabotage, Loki quickly emerges as the real culprit and suffers a decisive defeat. Before the heroes disperse, Ant-Man suggests that they make their association a permanent one, and the Avengers (a name suggested by the Wasp) are born.
The team’s lineup changed almost immediately, with the departure of the Hulk and the induction of Captain America, who had been frozen in a block of ice since the end of the World War II.
They’re the strangest super-hero team, The Avengers. They’re not held together by bonds of family, like The Fantastic Four, or mutual cause, like The X-Men – their mission (when did they ever actually ‘avenge’ anything?) and legal status often seem vague at best; and their just-buddies-hanging-out vibe is undermined by the simple fact that they don’t seem to like each other very much.
From its inception, The Avengers was a hit, and the series’ initial success doubtless owes much to the power-packed renderings of Kirby, who had not only cocreated Captain America with writer Joe Simon in 1941 but had also collaborated with Lee on such Marvel mainstay titles as The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, and Journey into Mystery.
Initial comic series, published bi-monthly through issue #6 (July 1964) and monthly thereafter ran through issue #402 (Sept. 1996), with spinoffs including several annuals, miniseries and a giant-size quarterly sister series that ran briefly in the mid-1970s. Writers of the first series included Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, Jim Shooter, David Michelinie and Roger Stern. Artists included John Buscema, Tom Palmer, Neal Adams, George Perez, John Byrne and Steve Epting.
Between 1996 and 2004, Marvel relaunched the primary Avengers title three times. In 1996, the “Heroes Reborn” line took place in an alternate universe, with a revamped history unrelated to mainstream Marvel continuity.
Unlike many Super Hero teams, the Avengers have largely embraced a highly structured dynamic, with a leader/chairperson who charts their collective path in battle and in peace. Almost all of the founding members have taken their turn as the team’s leader, with Captain America, Iron Man, and the Wasp emerging as arguably the Avengers’ most gifted commanders. When necessary, the Avengers have also held court-martials to discipline members who stepped out of line. Not even the founding members were immune, as Hank Pym/Ant-Man faced expulsion from the team he helped create.
Most of the characters that appear in Marvel Comics’ books are set in the same fictional universe, known as the Marvel Universe. They occasionally make guest appearances in each other’s books, and more regularly in team books such as The Avengers.
Three animated series have been based on the team – The Avengers: United They Stand was mainly based on the Roy Thomas era of the group, and ran from 1999 to 2000. The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was based on the early adventures of the team, but also used many elements from other runs. The TV show ran for two seasons, from 2010 to 2013, and started presenting the original Avengers line-up founded by Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp and the Hulk, who leaves the group after battling Amora the Enchantress and Skurge. Captain America later joins the team, replacing him. Avengers Assemble is mainly based on the MCU iteration of the group and premiered on May 26, 2013.
Marvel Animation has made three Avengers films, Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Avengers 2, and Next Avengers.
The Highest-grossing movie series – n terms of average gross per instalment, Marvel’s Avengers series (2012–18) smashes all the competition with $7,767,987,269 (£5.9 billion) earned across four releases; that’s an average of $1,941,996,817 (£1.4 billion) per movie. The second-highest average for a movie series is $978 million (£747 million) achieved by the Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–03).
The most successful superhero movie at the international box office is Marvel’s The Avengers (USA, 2012), which took $1,519,479,547 (£943,278,000) in its 22 weeks on general release between 4 May and 4 October 2012. The film, directed by Joss Whedon (USA), accounted for 52% of all domestic box-office takings in the USA for the month of May.
The fastest time for a movie to gross $1 billion is 5 days, and was achieved by Avengers: Endgame (USA, 2019) on 28 April 2019.