Marvel Studios brought together some of their most recognizable stars in The Avengers, but that original Avengers team could've been much bigger and stronger based on everything that has followed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers proved to be quite the accomplishment for Marvel. The movie saw Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) crossover and showed the potential of the MCU in doing so.
While The Avengers closed out Phase 1 of the MCU, it also served as a launching point for Marvel Studios to expand the far-reaching corners of this universe. They continued franchises for Iron Man, Cap, and Thor in the next two Phases, while also introducing brand new characters to the universe. Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther showed the potential for what else could come. But, as important as many of them were in setting up the future of the MCU, several new franchises also added rich layers to its past.
Some of this may be considered retcons by Marvel Studios, but many films in Phases 2 and 3 have shown that other superpowered characters were active before the Avengers officially formed. It was even in Captain Marvel were we learned why Nick Fury named his superhero team proposal the Avenger Initiative. Moments like these have raised serious questions over why characters like Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) weren't involved in the MCU before, but she isn't the only one who Fury could've added to the initial Avengers team in 2012.
Other Heroes Who Could've Joined The Avengers
When looking back at the Battle of New York with the full knowledge of every movie Marvel Studios made after The Avengers, it is easy to imagine just how much bigger the team could've been. Since we've already mentioned Captain Marvel, she is a clear example of a character who could've been part of the initial Avengers team. While it's possible Fury did page her and we never saw it, all we do know is that the most powerful character in the MCU was active during this time and has a clear connection to the man who assembled the team in the first place.
In a similar vein, the absence of War Machine (Don Cheadle) is particularly noticeable. James Rhodes suited up in Iron Man 2 and kept the suit at the end of the day. Tie-in comics revealed why he wasn't part of the mission, but the comic was only used to explain away his absence. In reality, Rhodey should've been a candidate to join the Avengers, especially since Natasha Romanoff's assessment of Tony Stark was that he was not fit for the team. The addition of Rhodey gives them an Iron Man suit with or without Tony. But, since he also was good friends with Tony, why he wouldn't suggest him for a spot on the team, regardless, is mystifying. It also could've bolstered the chances of the War Machine solo movie happening.
As for other characters who could've been recruited to the team, we know thanks to Avengers: Endgame that the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) fought in the Battle of New York on her own. She sliced up a few Chitauri, but she also could've been an impromptu member of the team to get involved in a more significant role. It is also possible that Hank Pym could've been recruited to put his Ant-Man suit back on to help out. As the Director of SHIELD, Fury must have at least known Hank's history as a hero and could've asked him to help out given the circumstances. Additionally, it is believed that Ava Starr aka Ghost was working covertly with SHIELD during this time, so Fury easily could've assigned her to the team as well given her own powers.
If all of these characters were part of the Avengers, the lineup would grow from six members to eleven heroes. The full lineup would be Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, Captain Marvel, War Machine, Ancient One, Ant-Man, and Ghost. This wouldn't just give the Avengers more people, but it would've significantly increased the power levels of them. In doing so, there is no doubt that the Battle of New York would play out differently.
How Battle Of New York Would Have Been Different
For starters, Captain Marvel's inclusion alone would be a huge help to the Avengers. Instead of Iron Man and Thor trying to hold back the Chitauri invasion through the space portal, Captain Marvel would easily be able to slow them down, if not stop them altogether by herself. She's also shown a knack for flying through ships with ease, so she could've taken down the mothership on her own before the nuke was fired. And, her experience in space may give her the same knowledge as Rocket Raccoon, who pointed out in a deleted scene from Avengers: Endgame just how well-known it was that this is how the Chitauri could be defeated.
But, even if Captain Marvel couldn't stop the invasion by herself, the additions of the rest of the heroes would undoubtedly help save more people. War Machine could've helped Iron Man patrol the perimeter or attack the portal as well. Meanwhile, The Ancient One's magic prowess would give the team a completely different skillset, as she could've potentially put the entire invasion in the Mirror Dimension so no real-world damage would've happened. As for Hank, his shrinking ability could've come in handy, while the potential for him to also become Giant-Man would've added more muscle to the team. And with Ghost, she would've given the team another person to help keep civilians safe.
All in all, it is difficult to imagine that having this larger and more powerful team wouldn't have had an easier time during the Battle of New York. But, this hypothetical version of the MCU wouldn't just change how The Avengers played out; there would be lasting effects across the entire universe.
How MCU Would Have Been Different
One of the most obvious ways that the MCU would be different from The Avengers and onward with this team is with the roster itself. When the Avengers re-formed a few years later to track down Loki's scepter, it was just the original six members who were hunting down Hydra. The majority of this team could still be working together, making the Avengers an even more formidable team. Their ability to protect Earth on the ground, in space through Captain Marvel and Thor, and from other magical threats through Ancient One may have even been enough to keep Tony from ever thinking about building Ultron.
But, this would also change the stories of the characters who would be new additions. Captain Marvel would make her return to Earth several years earlier and may have even stuck around to help when needed. War Machine would also be a full-fledged Avenger, which may make him less likely to become Iron Patriot. He'd also be involved in Avengers missions directly and not off on his own. The Ancient One being part of, or at the very least meeting, the Avengers could've opened up the door for Doctor Strange to immediately join the team once he mastered the mystic arts.
As for Hank Pym, it is unlikely he'd stick around to be a hero once more, but this could make his search for the next Ant-Man directly tied to filling his spot on the team. It's possible instead of searching for Scott Lang that he'd be more inclined to finish Hope van Dyne's Wasp suit so she could be an Avenger. Meanwhile, Ghost being used as a hero may have prevented her from turning bad after SHIELD fell and possibly even allowed her teammates to help find a way to control her powers.
All of these changes would directly influence many key events in the MCU and may have even allowed them to better prevent harm from coming to Earth so they don't have to do as much avenging. Since this team never assembled in The Avengers though, the next iteration of the Avengers has the opportunity to have a stronger team from the start.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022