To be an Avenger is a true honor. The Avengers are regarded with the utmost respect and rightfully so. They shoulder the entire weight of the world. Seriously, the safety of Earth is regularly dependent on those guys! Created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the team originally consisted of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, and Wasp. While these were the founding members, the superhero group has become known not only for its call to arms, “Avengers assemble!” but also for its continually changing roster of heroes. In fact, the original lineup changed almost immediately, with Hulk leaving and Captain America taking his place.
Over the years, the team has included members of both the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, as well as heroes very used to working solo. However, not everyone plays well with others and some crumbled under the crushing responsibility. Many found their way back to the team after taking leave, but others never did, either returning to their roots or hanging up the cape for good.
Whatever their reasons for stepping down, here are 15 Superheroes Who Quit The Avengers.
Peter Parker was a guy that really didn’t want to be an Avenger. This was mostly due to the fact that he had both grown accustomed to and enjoyed working solo. Aside from that, while the Avengers were embraced by the masses, thanks to one J. Jonah Jameson, Peter hadn’t had much luck in the court of public opinion. He was also super serious about his secret identity and didn’t even feel comfortable sharing it with his fellow heroes. Peter became a full-fledged member of the New Avengers in 2005 during Bendis’s run (the Wall Crawler almost always made an appearance in his work), along with Luke Cage, Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Woman. Despite his reservations, Peter did eventually choose to share his secret with his teammates.
After surviving both the Avengers and the New Avengers, Spider-Man quit, although it wasn’t Peter’s doing. Before Doc Ock “died”, he funneled his consciousness into Peter’s body! Although this sounds like the dumbest premise ever, Dan Slott managed to do amazing things with the book. Seriously, do yourself a favor and read it! Dock Ock (as Spider-Man) maintained his Avenger status for a while, but left the team when his own secret was on the verge of discovery in Superior Spider-Man #26. Peter would, of course, eventually return.
14 Jessica Jones
When Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos introduced Jessica Jones in the pages of Alias in 2001, she was like no else in the Marvel Universe. Desperately trying to find a way back to herself, the failed superhero turned PI was a hard-drinking, mistake-making woman who made no apologies. She was also incredibly clever, funny, and instantly relatable.
Bendis slowly spooled out Jessica’s origin story, using Mark Bagley’s bright, shiny art in flashbacks juxtaposed against Gaydos’s dark, gritty artwork that made up her present day. Jessica once dreamt of being an Avenger. She put on a costume, gave herself the moniker "Jewel" and fought crime. That is, until she met the Purple Man. He took all of that away from her when he used his powers to make Jessica attack Daredevil (although she accidentally went after Scarlet Witch instead), among other horrible things.
Due to her remarkable work as a private investigator, the team that Jessica had once so desperately wanted to be a part of offered her membership. Although she declined at that time, Jessica would eventually join the Avengers. She married her teammate Luke Cage in New Avengers Annual #1 and she soon gave birth to a daughter. However, after her affiliation with the team threatened Danielle’s safety, Jessica quit. She would continue to fight the good fight, but for the sake of her child, she no longer felt comfortable being a superhero.
Hank Pym has been with the team since their inception. He has gone through a litany of superhero sobriquets aside from Ant-Man, such as Giant-Man, Yellowjacket and Goliath. Hank’s had a rough time of it over the years. Both his marriage and his mental health were riddled with problems and his career as a superhero was conflicted to say the least. Ultron was his creation and that stroke of genius (the guy is a genius) has never ceased to haunt him. This was why he quit the team in Marvel’s animated Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
In the comics, Hank and his wife (Janet, aka the Wasp) have taken a leave of absence from the Avengers more than once. At one point, his reckless behavior and abuse of Janet caused his expulsion from the team. Eventually, he returned, but quit in Avengers #230, leaving both the team and Janet, to devote his time to scientific research (his true love). He had a worthy successor in Scott Lang, who would pick up the mantle in his place. Pym would return eventually, even creating an Avengers Academy.
12 Luke Cage
Luke Cage was a bit of a latecomer to the Avengers game, considering he’d been around since 1972. He had always been more of a champion of the streets, mainly working with fellow street-level hero, Iron Fist. Together, the two formed Heroes for Hire. But the guy formerly known as Power Man was asked to join the team by Captain America in New Avengers #5. Luke was an integral member during Civil War, operating in secret along with the other heroes opposed to registration. After the death of Steve Rogers, Luke led the team. He was with the Avengers for several incarnations, but things changed after he and Jessica split up over the Superhero Registration Act.
Eventually, Luke and his wife reunited, but left the team so that they could raise their daughter together. However, regardless of his desire to keep his family removed from all things Avengers, he just couldn’t stay away. When Thanos threatened Earth (again), Luke and Spider-Man formed the Mighty Avengers. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, Spider-Man happened to actually be Doctor Octopus.
11 Moon Knight
Marc Spector, a mentally unstable vigilante who has been reinvented over the years with varying degrees of success, has had many run-ins with the Avengers. Believing that he fights for the god Khonshu (who Spector is convinced resurrected him), the years of dual identities took their toll and he has several times descended into madness.
His first ongoing series, written by Doug Moench and with incredible art by Bill Sienkiewicz, is especially good and the 2006 run by Charlie Huston and David Finch is memorable as well. He officially joined the West Coast Avengers in vol 2 #21, after aiding them when they got stuck in 2940 BC. It was eventually revealed that Khonshu’s influence was the only reason that Spector joined the team in the first place, so his tenure there lasted less than two years.
Moon Knight later joined the Avengers, but his practices didn’t quite gel with their own. In Moon Knight #50, after they brought charges against him for actions taken against Doctor Doom (come on guys), Spector burned his Avengers card. It was a pretty harsh reaction, seemingly indicative of Spector never returning. However, Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato added him to their roster of Secret Avengers in 2010.
Ororo Monroe is undoubtedly one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe. Her innate ability to control the weather is unparalleled and she has been an indispensable member of the X-Men since her first appearance in 1975. Although Storm has been a faithful member of the team ever since, leading several incarnations herself, in the last decade her time has been split between other groups as well. In 2006, Ororo married T’Challa, aka Black Panther, and not too long after, the two became interim members of the Fantastic Four following Civil War. Once Reed and Sue rejoined the FF, Storm returned to the X-Men, deciding that she could be both Queen of Wakanda and an X-Men teammate. Seriously, if anyone can do it all, it’s Storm! In 2011, she joined the Avengers.
This was to be rather short-lived, due the events of Avengers vs. X-Men forcing her to choose sides. Of course, she quit the Avengers and sided with her fellow mutants, which pitted her against the Black Panther. This wound up being a decision that Storm would regret and, although she switched sides and helped out the Avengers, it was too late to save her marriage to T’Challa. When it was all over, Storm returned to her roots and, after serving on several teams with her old pals, she now leads the Extraordinary X-Men.
9 Ms. Marvel, Nova, and Spider-Man
When Marvel said All New, All Different Avengers, they meant it. The book was a perfect mixture of the old guard and the new, ushering in an exciting era for the Avengers. Or so it seemed. Kamala Khan, Sam Alexander, and Miles Morales were excellent additions to the team. Being the youngest members, they grew quite close. These kids idolized the Avengers and joining was a dream come true.
All that changed in the pages of Marvel's current event, Civil War II. Unlike its predecessor, this story pits Captain Marvel against Iron Man and everyone is choosing sides. The newest recruits are caught in the middle, and with Spider-Man this was literally the case, due to that fact that much of the current debate centers on him. He and Nova got fed up with being forced to fight the people they looked up to and so they quit the team. Kamala, feeling similarly disillusioned, soon followed. She wanted to save people on a smaller scale and actually take a moment to ponder the things that her fellow Avengers considered "collateral damage".
Although Spider-Man's fate is unclear, because Civil War II is running extremely behind schedule, what we do know is that these three have formed their own team, Champions. The roster also includes Cyclops (the young one), the Hulk (Amadeus Cho), and the Vision's daughter. If that last part confused you, then you have some homework to do. Read The Vision. It’s awesome!
8 Doctor Strange
Although the Sorcerer Supreme has a long history of teaming up with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, he didn’t officially become a member until New Avengers #27. Prior to that, it was revealed that he was a member of another group: the Illuminati. They were a secret cabal of important figures in the superhero community who met to find solutions to Earth’s biggest problems. Aside from Doctor Strange, the members were Black Bolt, Iron Man, Namor, Charles Xavier, and Reed Richards. Despite their best intentions, these guys didn’t always make the most solid choices. They were arguably responsible for World War Hulk due to their thinking that the way to protect the world from the Hulk was to shoot Bruce Banner into space! Though they did disband before that stellar decision came back to bite them, due to differences of opinion during Civil War.
The aftermath of all that led Doctor Strange to become an Avenger. He had been aiding the renegade heroes, granting them asylum in the Sanctum Sanctorum, and eventually joined the team. However, a series of incidents that caused Strange to invoke black magic made him feel as though he was no longer worthy of his mantle as Sorcerer Supreme. He renounced that title and quit the Avengers. Being Master of the Mystic Arts turned out to be a job only Stephen Strange could do, and after a time, he realized that. He not only resumed the position, but also later rejoined the Avengers.
Bruce Banner has had one foot out of the door since he joined the Avengers. Despite his best efforts to suppress his alter ego, the Hyde to his Jekyll always emerged. It didn't matter where he ran or hid. Whether it was Bruce himself or someone else trying to kill the Hulk, they never succeeded. Shoot the man into space and the big green guy is what returns.
Bruce realized this from the very second issue of Avengers. He left the group for the safety of his teammates. Since then, his relationship with the team has been that of a codependent ex that you just can't shake. Over the years, he has both helped and hurt them, but the Hulk is a tragic character and the latter always seems to beat out the former. Due to this, Banner has left the Avengers many times, but always returns eventually to repeat the same mistakes. This is because, regardless of who the monster is, the man is a hero.
6 Black Widow
Natalia "Natasha" Alianovna Romanova’s road to becoming an Avenger was a long one, rife with complications. The soviet spy turned hero has had several different origins since her creation in 1964. Separating the myth from the woman is almost impossible; a fact that Natasha would no doubt approve of. She has been romantically linked to several Marvel men, from Daredevil to Hercules, but has also made it abundantly clear that she needs none of them.
While Black Widow's expert training and enhanced skill set made her a perfect fit for the Avengers, her villainous past did not (although at this point, plenty of former villains have gotten the job). After helping both S.H.IE.L.D. and the Avengers, she was eventually granted membership to the latter… and then quit to run away with Daredevil. Since then, she has both returned and left the team several times. Natasha has hung up the spandex, claiming to be done with it all. She has also filled the superhero void by working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and not only rejoined the Avengers, but was placed in multiple leadership roles throughout the years.
Jessica Drew is another member of the Avengers with a bit of a checkered past. Under the guise of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she was really acting as a Hydra spy. Although she worked all this out with Nick Fury, Jessica still had Secret Invasion to contend with. During this large-scale Marvel event, she was one of many heroes replaced by Skrulls and the ersatz Jessica was actually their queen. Needless to say, when the real Spider-Woman returned, not everyone welcomed her into New Avengers with open arms.
Despite her initially chilly reception to the team, Jessica soon proved herself a valuable and loyal member, thus winning everyone over. She remained an Avenger for quite some time, but the events of Spider-Verse led her to quit the team. In Spider-Woman vol 5 #4, Jessica left the Avengers, because she wanted to begin anew and help out closer to home. She has since had a child and continued on as a superhero in her own right.
Thor has been an essential member of the Avengers since their formation. In fact, it was his half-brother Loki’s mischievous machinations that initially brought the team together. Speaking of Loki, aside from Thor consistently having to worry about what the Trickster is up to, the God of Thunder has his own responsibilities to his home in Asgard. Despite the fact that Thor will pretty much always be considered an Avenger, he has quit the team more than once. His reasons are almost always due to his duty to his homeland. He may be needed on Earth, but Asgard is his home, and the Asgardians are his people. Because of this, Thor has always very much been a man of two worlds.
The first time that Thor quit the team in Avengers #16, was actually the group’s first major lineup change. Ant-Man, Wasp, and Iron Man left along with him and were replaced by Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch. This was an unprecedented transition for the superhero squad, subbing former villains in for heroes, but it was indicative of the way the book’s run would continue. Although Thor has left the Avengers more than once, he always returns and most likely, always will.
3 Iron Man
Over the years, the name Tony Stark has become synonymous with the Avengers. He has been their main source of financial backing and just about every incarnation of the team has included him. Iron Man has also quit the Avengers on more than one occasion. Everyone needs a break and Tony, being a recovering alcoholic, may need time off more than his teammates. Being an Avenger has driven the guy to drink more than once.
First taking a leave of absence at the same time as Thor in Avengers #16, Tony has had to rethink his position many times since. In the aftermath of Civil War, he even became director of S.H.I.E.L.D. It was that conflict, which led to his his largest crisis of faith to date, because he lost his best friend (Steve Rogers). Regardless of the toll that Tony Stark’s alter ego has taken on his mental health and physical well being, like Thor, he is an Avenger to his very core and thus will always return to some iteration of the team.
2 Scarlet Witch and the Vision
The torrid romance between Wanda Maximoff and the Vision is an unforgettable piece of Avengers history. Their courtship was both unexpected and sweet, and for a time, the two were very happy. Wanda began her comic book career as a reluctant member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The Vision was also an involuntary villain of sorts, created by Ultron to destroy his maker, Hank Pym. While the Vision longed for humanity, Wanda desperately hoped for acceptance. They both found what they were looking for in each other and eventually married.
While their relationship with one another was, at times, tenuous, so was their relationship with the Avengers. Although they left the team together several times, Wanda quit by herself as well, before the two even met. Her career as a hero has been troubled to say the least, mostly due to her unstable mental health. Despite the fact that Wanda’s psychological issues have wreaked havoc across the Marvel Universe, she has been a vital part of the team since joining in 1965. Not only did she return to side with them in Avengers vs. X-Men, but she also joined the team comprised of both in Uncanny Avengers. These days, the Scarlet Witch is on her own path and is staying out of Civil War II, thus far. The Vision is currently doing his own thing as well.
1 Captain America
There is unequivocally no other Avenger who represents the team more than Steve Rogers. He has either led or hand picked the members of almost every incarnation of the Avengers. Who can utter the words, “Avengers assemble!” without thinking of Cap? He also represents everything that superheroes stand for, always fighting for the world as it should be, rather than how it is. This has pitted him not only against the government, but at times, even his fellow teammates. During Civil War, he was forced to break off from the main group, forming his own band comprised of heroes who were anti-registration.
That’s not all though. Steve Rogers actually once disbanded the Avengers! Although, it was a Skrull Cap calling the shots, so it didn't take. His MCU counterpart most definitely laid down his shield at the end of Captain America: Civil War though. We'll have to wait and see if Rogers will be the one to don the stars and stripes for Avengers: Infinity War.
Do you think any of these Avengers will quit in the MCU? Let us know in the comments!