We’re now six films into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four — Black Widow (2021), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021), Eternals (2021), Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022), and Thor: Love and Thunder (2022).
Soon, Phase Five will be here, with Avengers: Kang Dynasty (2025) and Avengers: Secret Wars (2025) arriving in 2025. It’s fair to say that we all have an idea as to who the new Avengers line-up will include, but let’s not forget the ones who started it all.
So here are all the original Earth’s Mightiest Heroes ranked from worst to best.
6. Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Though one of the best female heroes in the MCU, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) is the weakest of the Avengers, largely because she has no superpowers. Sure, neither does Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), but for reasons yet to be revealed, in this instance he has beaten his partner in crime!
Scarlet Johansson’s most stand-out performance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Avengers: Endgame (2019), in which she struggles to hold things together following Thanos’ Snap. As for her own solo movie Black Widow, sadly her own on-screen sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) ends up stealing the show.
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow also appears in Iron Man 2 (2010), Marvel’s Avengers (2012), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), and Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
5. Bruce Banner/Hulk
It’s not unreasonable to say that, despite generally being a great supporting character, Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is the most inconsistent Avenger of them all. While you might argue that this is due to character growth, we beg to differ, as Marvel hasn’t really left him alone since The Incredible Hulk (2008) — and not in a good way.
Not only did we go from Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo after The Incredible Hulk, Thor: Ragnarok (2017) saw him become far too humanized (though still awesome in his own right). And in Avengers: Endgame he is “Smart Hulk”, something the Disney+ series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022) has since made an absolute mockery out of.
Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk also appears in Marvel’s Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Avengers: Infinity War.
4. Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Many Marvel will fans will probably consider it blasphemy to place Clint Barton/Hawkeye above the Hulk, but in terms of characterization, this excellent archer is far more compelling and interesting than the big green guy.
While Hawkeye was absent from Avengers: Infinity War, he does return in Avengers: Endgame, in which he has to watch his entire family turn to dust. His return in the film is nothing short of awesome, as during the Blip he has donned the deadly alias “Ronin”.
Clint Barton/Hawkeye also appears in Thor (2011), Marvel’s Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the Disney+ series Hawkeye (2021).
3. Steve Rogers/Captain America
Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is the most noble of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and he also has the longest character arc of them all. We first meet Steve in the 1930s as he prepares to join World War II, but in the process ends up becoming Captain America.
To cut a very long story short, Steve ends up in the ice and wakes up in 2012, and it isn’t until 2022 (Avengers: Endgame) — after 10 years as Captain America — that he finally hangs up his shield, so that he can go back in time to be with his one true love, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).
Steve Rogers/Captain America also appears in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Marvel’s Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War.
2. Tony Stark/Iron Man
Captain America isn’t the only selfless Avenger, because lest we forget the ultimate sacrifice made by Tony Stark/Iron Man at the end of Avengers: Endgame (we still get choked up just thinking about it). But, of course, Stark wasn’t always Earth’s Mightiest Heroes-material.
While an incredibly brave superhero nonetheless, Tony Stark is narcissistic and self-destructive, as seen in Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2, and Iron Man 3 (2013). But like Steve Rogers, he goes through a major character arc by the time he snaps those fingers in Avengers: Endgame.
Tony Stark/Iron Man also appears in Marvel’s Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).
1. Thor Odinson
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is yet another Avenger who has had quite a journey since we first met him in his own solo movie. Thor (2011) finds the titular God of Thunder as an arrogant and entitled heir to the Asgardian throne, however, a smidgeon of humility ends up making a huge difference.
In Thor: Ragnarok, Chris Hemsworth gets a major makeover (so does the entire Thor series). But the battle-hungry god doesn’t truly shine until Avengers: Infinity War, in which his pride gets the better of him, and again in Avengers: Endgame, where he is a broken man suffering from PTSD. Thor is also the most hilarious of all the original Avengers.
Thor also appears in Marvel’s Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Thor: Love and Thunder.
Marvel’s Phase Four will end on November 11 with this year’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), and Phase Five will begin on February 17 next year with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023).
Other upcoming MCU movies are Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023), Blade (2023), Captain America: New World Order (2024), The Marvels (2023), Thunderbolts (2024), Fantastic Four (2024), Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, and Avengers: Secret Wars.
How would you rank the original Avengers? Let us know in the comments down below!