Who Should Lead The Avengers? Captain America vs. Iron Man vs. Thor

Published 4 years ago by , Updated June 27th, 2013 at 3:11 pm,

Thor Captain America Iron Man Avengers Who Should Lead The Avengers? Captain America vs. Iron Man vs. Thor

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!)


Skinny Steve Rogers in Captain America First Avenger Who Should Lead The Avengers? Captain America vs. Iron Man vs. Thor

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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  1. HULK should be the leader, why?
    HULK SMASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Okay, that made me laugh.

  2. mmmmm I think the leadership’s going to change position through the entire movie!

  3. I know how it worked in the comics, but could anyone really lead Thor?

  4. Daniel,

    Thanks for the heads up about Cap. My sister wants to see it with me so I might take her and check it out in the theater.

    As for Green Lantern, hey we all have differing opinions and that’s why I appreciate honest opinions.

    • I really just don’t like Comic book movies that decide to be cheesy. It really makes me angry because we have several examples that prove they don’t need to be. Then movies like GL come alone and do it anyway. It was so campy and I hated it for that. Plus I thought it over used CGI when it wasn’t needed and I thought alot of the CGI was poor it looked more like a cartoon than a live action film. CGI should only be used if you can make it look real. If the characters look like cartoons than you wasted your money on the CGI IMO. Plus the GL costume was terrible. A practical costume with added CGI effects would of been better instead of making an inside out person colored green. The acting was mediocre at best Ryan was poorly cast as GL and the story was very poorly placed together. The first 10 minutes were the only watchable part of the film lol.

      Cap though like I said while not the best is a pretty decent comic flick. I preferred Thor by far, but it’s still pretty good. Hope you and your sister enjoy it.

      • Hi,
        I really like your sis, she is great pls understand let me take her.

  5. I

  6. Captain America hands down but if Hulk wasn’t that violent and had control he would be the leader cause in a dispute he will just beat everyone into a smear..

    • what you talking about THOR is a god doesn’t anyone realise that how the hell is hulk meant to kill a god… like saying a normal man can with his bare hands against a huge bear its just stupid. I hate our Americans are saying a Norse god was created by Stan Lee he wasn’t based on a Norse god what they are using is the same thing as in the mythology which was created by the vikings from which their main religous views are its like someone makeing a movie about jesus as a hero and say he’s a Australian and I created him based on Jesus, so stop doing that make your own hero’s like superman and spiderman don’t steal someone else’s heros..

      • Loki is a God as well.
        Puny God.

  7. Cap is not a good choice to lead the Avengers for this movie…Set aside your patriotic emotions for a moment, and do away with your need to make every film adaptation as faithful as the source material, for a second and think…First, Cap’s movie ended when he was still relatively a rookie. Sure the action montage showed us that he has had a few run-ins with Hydra, but for all intents and purposes as leading a team, he was still kind of green. Second, Cap is not in his own time. Can you imagine a leader with whom you must explain each and every facet of the modern world? It wouldn’t work. Sure, his heart is in the right place, and he wants to help, and all that, but the movie ended, and he still haven’t learned to properly talk to the opposite sex yet. I reckon, if Cap start giving orders to Scarlett Johanson, he would stutter.

    Iron Man, is a loner. Re-watch Iron Man 1 and 2, and you can see, he works best alone. Nuff said.

    Thor, by default, should lead, given the scenario. The main villain is Loki. Sure, he is a fish out of water, but the villain is his adoptive brother. The Avengers needs someone who thinks like an Asgardian to beat an Asgardian (or jotun). Besides, after watching Thor, he did say to the Warriors Three (while trying to convince them to attack Jotunheim) – “Fandral, Hogun, who lead you into the most glorious of battles?”, to which Hogun answered, “you did”. And when asked by Jane Foster “how many times he has been in these situations before” (you know, in an adventure, of sorts), Thor said – “many, many times”. Thor is not green in terms of leading a group into battle. It would be like second nature to him. If anything, he will be good at drawing the main forces, and his teammates can concentrate on individual opponents (like in the fight at Jotunheim). And to the nay-sayers, before you say that Thor is a “hot-head” and “will likely start a fight”, he has learned that lesson in the first film, so, he should be over that by now.

    • You have a really good point there. We’ll just have to wait and see :)

      • To overcome modern age problems what are u talk in about he froze in a block of ice for 70 years he doesn’t know what led televisions are

  8. After reading this, I put the whole thing into perspective. I agree with Captain American being the leader of the Avengers. Thor and Iron Man, while being great characters, lack the leadership ability necessary to lead the Avengers because of their ego. The powerhouse is definetly Thor. The technological know how is Iron Man. However, Capt. America is the best because he is a people person, comes from a normal life, and has the heart to do what is right. But, have Iron Man do the press talk, he’s better at that.

  9. An overly patriotic military man, a greedy industrialist, or a religous wacko. Wait is this for controlling the Avengers or the United States?

  10. who cares the are members of shield and the commander of shield is fury so the 4 of them are just going to be the soldiers for him

  11. There won’t be a leader they will be a team of equals. This will allow them to play off the whole power dynamic and teamwork ect…. Makes for a more interesting film.

  12. Caps the leader because he is the Boy Scout of the bunch, the one who will do the right thing despite any outside influences or personal assocaitions. Captain America is very much like Superman in this way. In DC Supeman is the Ideal Boy Scout we all like to think we’d be and Batman is the dark side that we all know we have inside.

    In the Marvel-verse Cpatain America is the Always ON Boy Scout that never questions what the right to do is.

  13. My opinion would be cap america

    but in the comic books captain america would always take the role as the leader but in situations like one of you were saying that if was luki, then Thor would def be more so in command but the leader would always be simply Captain America

  14. Leadership: “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task

    captain america will and will always be the leader of the avengers regarldess of who know who the nemesis is. just because its your nemesis doesn’t make you the leader it just gives the “team” the advantage and without a leader there is no team and that leader is Captain America for obvious reasons as listed in OPs post.

    And if this movie decides to allow Thor to take the leadership role or even Iron Man i will not be happy and it will be just another movie ruined for me.

  15. Nooooo no and no, The Leader most be Thor, Thor can beat the stupid captain america and iron man together, captain ameerica who does not have a real power he was made, and Iron man too using that robot or suit, but Thor Thor is a God and also he was born with his power, Thor is amazing the movie was much better than captain america and iron man, i refuse to accept captain america ass the leader only becauese is an american. Thor must be the leader.

    • I agree, Thor was the best movie out of all of them and he’s awesome!!

  16. 1. I agree with your ranking.
    2. Movie Steve/Cap didn’t receive “extensive military training” of the sort that makes him seem as special ops-ish as you make him out to be so much as he has intensive (not extensive) battle experience chasing down Red Skull.
    3. Iron Man isn’t asked to be a consultant, Tony Stark is. Iron man is recommended for the Avengers Initiative.

  17. I actually think everyone will have quite an equal role. But I love thor the best regardless of who’s the leader he will have a major role considering its his brother they’re trying to stop

  18. Finally when Thor was sent to earth he lost his power,yes he still kicked butt,but ended up being brought down. Plus when he led his team,he lead them with destruction and fury causing them to almost lose. Iron Man has no people skills. He’s a rich boy with a high IQ. Yes I think he is a great comic relief but he had no leadership experience,so would fail to be a leader

  19. All very valid points !
    Cap for character, Thor for millennia of battles in the Asgard realm and Iron man for being Tony Stark.
    While Cap, is the leader in the comic book – the movie Cap is less of a “Captain” – less of a military guy – he is a hero nevertheless – but became so by his own courage – risk taking and bravery – less by leadership based actions – for now.
    This was Cap’s first movie, and in the Comics, like someone pointed out, there’s hundreds of more adventures, before he gets frozen and then resurrected. That’s why the actor was not the best choice in my eyes, as Cap, is a Captain – a bit older (mid thirties) and bigger, taller, more chiseled in the jaw – line if you guys know what I mean. I thought that Chris H should have played Cap, and some 7 footer guy Thor – but it doesn’t always work that way – and before I start a new debate – I was happy with both movies – changed my mind, and LOved Thor, and was fairly OK (more than OK actually) with the Cap movie….
    Now enough of the time buying blabbering – who should lead? IRON MAN aka Stark. He is already a leader – of his company – he has employees, makes tactical decisions, is very human(with all his flaws), and has the best sense of humor – thus – who could unite , and lead a gamma ray behemoth, an Nordic God, and a Super Soldier from the 40ies? He is also older than all three (in terms of character maturity, not biological years).

    This will work for a while – and the Comic Books have shown that Iron MAn as the leader of the Initiative / Avengers etc is not without flaws – and not without controversy….
    After that, Captain America can, and should emerge as the leader – but not for some time to come – not until he matures into the Captain America – man of few words and confidence, reason, and compassion, as we know him.
    He has always been my favorite Marvel character – the 70ies/80/90ies Cap was sort of the Superman of the Marvel Universe – the embodiment of good and right – in a good way – never to disappoint….

    My favorite movie character so far is Thor – his might, power, and rage puts all to shame – can’t wait what happens when he goes toe to toe with Movie Hulk – once that Hammer starts a twirling’…. at least in Movie terms – …he’s on par with the Hulk…. at least he’ll be able to knock him 200 feet off his feet…well…let’s see what the writers have in stock… Thor is the most powerful Hero of the Comic Book story lines (in many cases) – and depending who writes – wins or looses by a tiny margin (that day) against Hulk or Sentry (Marvel’s Superman Clone).

    Final Note: I really don’t care about movie deal shenanigans – I want guest appearances of Wolverine, Magneto, Colossus, Beast, Spiderman in an Avenger sequel – it’s one Marvel world – and I need to see what happens when Wolverine meets Cap, Magneto dares to mock Thor…well you get my drift…just dreaming…..

  20. well if wolverine can survive his adamentium being ripped out of his body im sure he can survive the hulk and hulk will get soem major cuts from the adamentium 😛

  21. Although Thor is my favorite character of them all, I agree with you. You showed very good proof on why captain America should be the leader of the avengers. I can’t wait for the movie to come out. IT WILL BE AWESOME!!!

  22. I hardly believe that the Avengers movie is going to pick up the day after Cap woke up in the end of TFA. Cap will be a man out of his time. But he also is a man of strong character. And as the movie shows, he’s not a mindless patriot. Just unwilling to stand on the sidelines while others sacrifice their lives. He’s also the ‘weak’ man given power, do he respects that power. Both IM and Thor have always had power (IM through access to money and influence). On the team he will be the weakest of the heavy hitters, thus again a reason to lead. He’ll also be the only heavy hitter with any military rank in a military/government sanctioned organisation. And lastly, he’s selfless. He’ll die to protect anyone being oppressed. He’s not a beacon of Americanism, but rather a symbol of freedom and courage to stand against oppression wherever it is. The symbolism alone is reason to make him a leader. But his character above all else is what qualifies him, even in a situation involving lack of experience. His character makes him the leader without anyone even assigning a title. Thor will differ to him based on the fact that his character will remind him of his father. Tony will risist and descent because his ego won’t let him appear to be lead, but will ultimately go along with it because he knows Cap is right and partially because Cap was friends with Howard Stark. Cap is the clear choice.

  23. Thor deve ser o leader por ter na bagage sec de experiencias,cap america tem nem 1/100 da experiencia de thor tanto em combat ou qualquer outra coisa,levar em conta q cap deve ser leader so pq é capitao tem nada haver,levar enconta q thor é cabeça nda a ver todos adoram isso,msm pq o pai dele (odin) o encinou uma liçao,ele esta pronto pra ser o leader dos avengers e em filmes posteriores q sabe o rei de asgard ou algo assim

  24. Sorry but Nick Fury is the one who is leading it. He’s the one who assembled the team.

  25. I think iron man would be the perfect leader, he knows how to get out of trouble he built a suit in a cave, and he never panics no matter what.

  26. S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury should lead because he only called everyone and formed this group.

  27. Iron man should totally be the leader I have sources in marvel who tell me he will coz robbert downy jr is the best actor out of the 3 of them

  28. And just for the record shaquille I agree but check out the game iron man 2 on the ps3 you’ll see him panic