It’s hard to believe, but we’re officially less than nine months away from The Avengers, perhaps the most ambitious superhero movie in cinematic history, and the one film that will definitively prove whether or not Marvel Studios’ ambitious plans to weave multiple films together over several years will work with mainstream audiences.

With the recent releases of Captain America (see our 4/5 star review) and Thor (see our 3.5/5 star review), there are no more lead-in films to Joss Whedon’s epic superhero team-up. While that may be a bummer to fanboys who have enjoyed one of the better superhero movie summers in recent history, there is some consolation.

Now that all the solo films have been released, we’ve learned all there is to know about each individual member of The Avengers. In other words, we can finally start debating The Avengers in earnest, and I’m going to kick off the conversation!

In the comic books, Captain America has more-or-less always served as the leader of The Avengers. As such, Steve Rogers will also be the leader of the team in The Avengers film. However, as any fanboy knows, movies are a different animal than comic books, which begs the question: should Captain America be the man who gets to yell “Avengers Assemble!” on the big screen?

In the Marvel movie universe, there are really only three viable leaders for The Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. At the risk of starting a massive argument in the comments, we’re putting each of the heroes to the test to see who would be the best leader for the team.

Here are the rules. Each hero will be rated in five categories: Character, Leadership Skills, Weapons, Style, Intangibles. The winner of each category gets three points, the runner-up gets two points, and the loser gets one point. After five categories, we add up each hero’s points to determine a winner. (Remember: This is just hypothetical. Captain America will more than likely be the leader of The Avengers when the movie hits theaters next year, but let’s not keep that from spoiling the fun!)

Character

Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man are all great characters, but which one of the three has the greatest moral character? Let’s break it down.

As another famous Marvel hero once taught us: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” While all three of our would-be leaders have great power, not all of them exercise great responsibility.

In the Iron Man films, Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark as a hard-drinking, womanizing, and aggressively sarcastic man whose genius is only rivaled by his ego. While Iron Man acts heroically, he doesn’t seem to act out of an innate goodness, but rather to inflate his celebrity and improve his family’s legacy (especially in Iron Man 2). Iron Man is undoubtedly a great hero, but he doesn’t always demonstrate great integrity, which is why he’s at the bottom of the list.

Like Iron Man, Thor is another hero whose ego sometimes kept him from doing what is morally right. Instead of fighting for something worthwhile, Thor simply fights because he’s bored, putting his entire civilization at risk in the process. Unlike Iron Man, however, Thor learned from his mistakes after his powers were taken away. Maybe if somebody stole Iron Man’s suits, he would have had the same epiphany. Despite his redemption, Thor’s initial arrogance keeps him out of the top spot.

The clear winner in the Character category is Captain America. As played by Chris Evans, Steve Rogers is a brave and selfless soldier with an unshakable desire to do what’s right (even though his 90-pound frame refused to cooperate with him). When he takes on the mantle of Captain America, Steve doesn’t let his newfound powers go to his head, instead showing that his greatest strength was always his integrity.

VERDICT: Captain America (3), Thor (2), Iron Man (1)

Leadership Ability…

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