Superhero teams are one of the cornerstones of the comic book industry, and the Avengers are a big part of that. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the group in 1963 as a response to the Justice League superhero team created by Marvel Comics' archrival, DC Comics, three years prior. The founding members of the Avengers were Ant-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and the Wasp, but their numbers have since grown exponentially.
Joss Whedon brought the team to life on the big screen with The Avengers in 2012. His film brought together the dysfunctional heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and turned them into a force to be reckoned with -- both in-universe and in real life. Of course, what audiences saw in the movie is only an inkling of the team's potential, and a mere snapshot of their comic book roster. Many heroes have fought alongside the Avengers over the years, some of which people didn't even know were ever part of the team.
Just like every other superhero squad in comic books, Earth's Mightiest Heroes have branched off into different subgroups over the years, such as the New Avengers, Secret Avengers, and Mighty Avengers. These spinoff teams only add to the 15 Heroes You Didn't Know Were Avengers.
Pom Klementieff made her debut as Mantis in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 earlier this summer, and she will be reprising her role in Anthony and Joe Russo's Avengers: Infinity War next year. Which is only fitting, considering that Mantis was once of the most prominent members of the original Avengers team in the comics, having made her comic book debut in The Avengers #112 in 1973, created by Steve Englehart and Don Heck.
Her history with the superhero team is quite complicated, seeing as she was recruited when the Swordsman attempted to rejoin the team in the '70s. During her early years, Mantis fought alongside the Avengers against enemies such as the Collector, Dormammu, Loki, and event Doctor Strange (during the Avengers/Defenders War). Having her officially appear in an Avengers film is a big deal for the character. We just hope that the Russo brothers make proper use of her powers.
Venom is one of Spider-Man's perennial enemies, though some of the people who host the symbiote stray on the side of an antihero. One of the latest characters to be bonded with the symbiote is Flash Thompson, who willingly submitted himself to the alien upon the promise that he would be able to walk again, following the loss of his legs during his tour in Iraq. Unlike past hosts, though, Flash only bonds with the symbiote for short periods of time -- no more than 48 hours -- otherwise the alien would take full control over him.
Flash used the alien symbiote to become Agent Venom. He ended up joining the Secret Avengers team in Secret Avengers Vol. 1 #23 six years ago, before eventually joining Thunderbolt Ross' superhero team, predictably named the Thunderbolts. After a few years fighting alongside both teams, the Avengers tasked Agent Venom with joining the Guardians of the Galaxy as their official envoy. With Flash Thompson joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Spider-Man: Homecoming, could Agent Venom be in the character's future?
It would be quite the sight seeing Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool alongside the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Pratt in Avengers: Infinity War, but unfortunately, we'll likely never see the two shared universes collide on the big screen. If we move past his juvenile antics, Wade Wilson is actually a terrific superhero, someone who would willingly sacrifice his own life to save another -- although that could depend on the person who needs saving.
Following the Secret Wars story arc, Captain America invited Deadpool to join the Avengers Unity Division at the start of the All New, All Different Marvel Universe. He officially made his debut in Uncanny Avengers Vol. 3 #1 in 2015. It was an opportunity for him to represent the mutant population on the new Avengers team, which was also comprised of humans and Inhumans. If you're a Deadpool fan who's looking for a new comic to read, you can catch the Merc with a Mouth in the ongoing Uncanny Avengers series.
Anna Marie, aka Rogue, is one of the most prominent mutants in the Marvel Universe, and her inclusion in 20th Century Fox's X-Men franchise, played by Anna Paquin, has only amplified the popularity of the character in the mainstream. Like everyone else, her powers and abilities have changed over the years, and so has her involvement with the X-Men. Recently, however, folks have been focused on her career with the Avengers.
Rogue has been one of the leading members of the Avengers Unity Squad ever since she joined the team in Uncanny Avengers Vol. 2 #4 in 2013, even continuing into the All New, All Different Marvel Universe. Along with the reboot in 2015, Rogue was even promoted to the main leader of the Avengers Unity Division. Although her time has been preoccupied with Earth's Mightiest Heroes, she also has simultaneously maintained her presence with the X-Men.
Alex Summers, aka Havok, has typically fallen to the sidelines while his brother, Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, takes all of the fame, though he has recently gained more popularity in the mainstream thanks to his inclusion in Fox's X-Men prequel trilogy, in which he's played by Lucas Till. If somehow those movies ever crossover with the MCU (again, probably not gonna happen anytime soon), Till could have had his chance at playing an Avenger -- had he not been blown to bits in X-Men Apocalypse.
Havok joined Earth's Mightiest Heroes in fighting his brother during the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover event in 2012. In the end, the mutant superhero team was left in shambles, with Scott getting himself imprisoned. That's when Captain America asked Havok to lead the Avengers Unity Squad, for the mutants needed proper representation on the team. Havok officially joined in Uncanny Avengers #1 as the new leader, though his position was only temporary.
Ororo Munroe, aka Storm, has always been an iconic superhero in the Marvel Universe, but it was Hally Berry's portrayal of the character in Fox's X-Men series that turned her into a pop culture figure. Storm is one of the most prolific characters in the Marvel Universe. She has not only been a prominent member of the X-Men for decades, but she has also been a member of the Fantastic Four as well as the Avengers.
In 2011, Marvel underwent a large-scale rebranding of the X-Men comics, titled X-Men: Regenesis. Later that year, Storm joined the main Avengers team in Avengers Vol. 4 #19, and she remained a member of the team for several months. However, she eventually left -- in New Avengers Vol. 2 #24 -- to fight alongside the X-Men during the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover event in 2012. Interestingly, during that story arc, she had to fight against her then-husband, T'Challa, aka Black Panther, who's a longtime member of Earth's Mightest as well.
Brunnhilde, aka Valkyrie, was the leader of the Valkyrior in the comics, a group of female Asgardian warriors tasked by Odin with shepherding the souls of fallen heroes to Valhalla. Her spirit has taken many forms and assumed many different aliases over the years, with one of them eventually becoming a member of The Defenders. Valkyrie is scheduled to make her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe later this year, being portrayed by Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok.
It's unclear what the extent of Thompson's role will be in the movie, but comic book fans will undoubtedly like to see how the actress portrays the character in the Avengers movies. Valkyrie originally made her debut in The Avengers comics in 1970, but she didn't actually join one of the teams for another 40 years. She (the Asgardian version) was recruited into the Secret Avengers in Secret Avengers #1 in 2010, and she remained a staple of the comic series for quite some time.
Eros, aka Starfox, first appeared in Iron Man #55 in the early '70s alongside his brother, Thanos (yes, that Thanos), the Mad Titan. Being related to the one of the biggest bads in the entire Marvel Universe is one of the many things that makes Eros stand out as a character, especially considering that he eventually became a member of the main Avengers team in the '80s.
Eros has spent most of his life fighting this power-hungry brother. He once allied himself with Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell), Moondragon, Iron Man, and the rest of the Avengers team to deliver Thanos' first major defeat. He then returned to his home world, but eventually he decided to seek out the Avengers and join the superhero team, and that's when Wasp gave him the code-name Starfox.
7 Jessica Jones
Netflix currently has four standalone Marvel shows under their belt, including Jessica Jones, starring Krysten Ritter as the eponymous hero. Considering the fact that Jessica Jones already exists within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she is perfectly positioned to join the Avengers team in a future movie. After all, it seems like the team could use all the help they can get against Thanos, and she's already been a member of the squad in the comics. Given the small and big screen MCU's apparent aversion to crossover, however, we may be waiting a while on this one.
Jessica officially joined the New Avengers team in the comic issue Avengers Vol. 2 #1 in 2010. During her tenure with the New Avengers, Jessica let go of her Jewel identity and took up the name Power Woman, a reference to her husband, Luke Cage, who sometimes goes by the name Power Man. After some time, she eventually left the team, for she thought living in the Avengers Mansion wasn't safe for the couple's daughter, Danielle.
6 Luke Cage
As we just discussed, Luke Cage married Jessica Jones, and together they had a daughter named Danielle. Unlike Jessica, who joined the New Avengers team during Marvel's Heroic Age relaunch in the early 2010s, Luke was already on the team's roster from the original incarnation in the mid-2000s (he was actually a founding member of the New Avengers). It was only after he and Jessica got married that he recommended that she join the team as well.
Prior to conceiving the New Avengers, Luke was temporarily a member of Captain America's Secret Avengers group. Despite being part of several different iterations of the Avengers, Luke never stayed with either team for very long. He most recently assembled his own version of the Mighty Avengers team. Of course, it's unlikely that we'll see Mike Colter's version of Luke Cage fight alongside the Avengers on the big screen, but that doesn't mean fans can't hope.
5 Iron Fist
Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist, is another one of Netflix's superheroes that has fought alongside one version of the Avengers in the comics. Following the implementation of the Superhuman Registration Act, the New Avengers team went underground and became an unofficial defense force. Each member was at risk of being arrested for not complying with the registration act, which is why their identities were being protected by Doctor Strange.
Iron Fist officially joined the team alongside Jessica Jones in New Avengers Vol. 2 #1, though he made his first appearance in New Avengers Vol. 1 #27 three years earlier. Even though audiences would prefer to see Netflix's heroes join the Avengers on the big screen, it's probably something that won't happen anytime soon. Instead, the streaming service could unite Iron Fist and Luke Cage for the series Heroes for Hire, and with the Defenders Netflix series mere weeks away, we'll be seeing a small screen team-up even sooner than that.
4 Bucky Barnes (as Captain America)
In the movies, Bucky Barnes' relationship with Steve Rogers has been told a bit differently that it was in the comics. For instance, in the comics, Bucky was not only Steve's best friend, but he was also Captain America's sidekick. Though he stopped appearing in comics in the mid-'50s, it wasn't until 1964 that he was officially killed off. His death was one of the more prominent ones to occur in all of comics, primarily due to the fact that he remained dead for so many years. Then, in 2005, Ed Brubaker revived Bucky as the Winter Soldier.
Shortly thereafter, Steve Rogers was killed off during the Civil War story arc, which later led to Bucky assuming the mantle of Captain America. In the aftermath of the Secret Invasion story arc, Bucky, as the new Captain America, joined the New Avengers in issue #48, in 2008. Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, and Mockingbird also joined the team in the same issue, just as Iron Fist left.
Chloe Bennet's Daisy Johnson is one of the more prominent characters on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and that is in part due to the fact that she's an Inhuman, having exhibited the power to generate earthquakes. Even though Marvel's movie division seemingly refuses to acknowledge the TV side of the MCU, characters on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are getting the attention they deserve in the comics, including Daisy, aka Quake, who is actually an Avenger.
One would think that the popularity of the character on television would have been the impetus in having her join the Avengers in the comics, but in actuality, she was already a member of the superhero team. Quake joined the group as part of the Shattered Heroes recruits in 2011 and 2012 (one year before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered), in Avengers Vol. 4 #19, as a result of Captain America altering the Avengers' lineup following the events of the Fear Itself story arc.
2 The Fantastic Four
Two years before Marvel created the Avengers, the comic book publisher conceived the idea for the Fantastic Four, a superhero team typically (though not always) consisting of four human mutates -- Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and the Thing -- each of which has been imbued with unique powers due to being exposed to cosmic rays. Although the team remained separate from the Avengers, each member of the Fantastic Four has fought alongside the Avengers at one point or another.
Interestingly, the Thing was the first character to join up with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. He helped out the West Coast Avengers in the '80s, though he didn't stay with the team long. Years later, he ended up joining the New Avengers in the 2010s. Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman had both retired from the Fantastic Four and subsequently joined the main Avengers team in the early '90s, in Avengers #300. However, they eventually resigned from the team and rejoined the team they founded. Johnny Storm, meanwhile, joined the Avengers Unity Division in the same issue as Deadpool: Avengers #0, just two years ago.
Yondu Udonta has gained significant popularity with mainstream audiences in recent years thanks to the character's memorable appearances in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy films. He even joined the team, unofficially, in the latest installment, and that's not the only superhero team Yondu has been a part of.
We're bending the rules with Yondu, since he was never an official member of any Avengers team, though he was once inducted as an honorary member. His original Guardians of the Galaxy team fought alongside the Avengers during the Korvac saga. The group time-traveled from the 31st century and made their debut appearances in Avengers #168 in 1978.
Since the rebooted Guardians of the Galaxy team will be joining Earth's Mightiest Heroes in Avengers: Infinity War, there were hopes and even rumors that Michael Rooker's Yondu would be appearing in the film. Unfortunately, that's not happening.
What other Marvel heroes have joined up with the Avengers and managed to do so under the radar? Let us know in the comments.