Avengers: Infinity War featured the biggest collection of Marvel superheroes we've seen so far... but in the wake of Captain America: Civil War, only four of them were officially members of the Avengers. Moreover, with Thanos cutting a swathe through the universe at the end of the movie, there are technically now only two Avengers left.
The Avengers Initiative began as a S.H.I.E.L.D. project, designed to bring together the Earth's most powerful superheroes as a team to defend the world from threats too great and strange for regular military forces to deal with. Their first mission - defending New York City from a massive Chitauri invasion in The Avengers - proved to be a success, with the superhero team working together to move civilians out of harms' way and minimize casualties before Iron Man closed the portal in the sky once and for all.
As Reddit user TheChlorideThief pointed out in a post, however by the time Infinity War rolled around only Iron Man, War Machine and Vision were official members of the Avengers, with Spider-Man being hastily dubbed a member partway through the movie. By the end of Civil War, which saw the team divided over the issue of the Sokovia Accords, most of the Avengers had sided with Captain America, making them fugitives from the law and no longer official members of the team. Black Widow initially sided with Iron Man, but helped Cap and Bucky escape during the airport fight. Iron Man also had Black Panther on his side, but that was more of a temporary alliance. Thor and Hulk were AWOL, both off out in space and. By the end of the movie, when a FedEx employee showed up with a parcel for Tony Stank, Avengers HQ was looking pretty bare.
In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker was offered an opportunity to officially join the Avengers and go to live at Avengers HQ, but he ultimately turned it down in favor of being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Vision, though still officially a member of the Avengers, snuck away for a romantic getaway with Scarlet Witch, who was still a fugitive. As a result, when Thanos and his minions attacked the team was in disarray and three superheroes - Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man - ended up on the other side of the galaxy while the others remained on Earth, forming the last line of defense in Wakanda.
At one point in time Captain America was the leader of the Avengers, while Iron Man was just the guy who paid for everything, designed everything, and made everyone look cooler. After Captain America walked away at the end of Civil War, however, Iron Man became the de facto leader and therefore the only person with the official capacity to add new members to the team - as he did in Infinity War by tapping Spider-Man on the shoulders and saying, "Alright, kid, you're an Avenger now."
Many felt, in the wake of Civil War, that it would have been cheap for the Avengers to immediately mend their divisions and team up again the first time a new threat came along, but Infinity War neatly sidestepped that by whisking Iron Man away before any reconciliation could happen. In Avengers: Endgame, however, the team's former squabbles will surely seem immaterial in the face of the utter decimation caused by Thanos' snap. If Cap and Iron Man are reunited (the latter is currently floating out in space, according to the trailer), then it's easy to imagine them setting aside their differences and officially putting the team back together again. Then again, maybe they won't and Endgame will be a swansong for the Avengers as we once knew them.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019