10. Doctor Strange
Secret identity: Stephen Vincent Strange
First appearance: Strange Tales #110 (July 1963)
Powers: Vaguely defined magic
There’s a definite gap in the roster for Marvel’s master of the mystic arts, and with Loki being something of a sorcerer, he needs someone to match wits against, not just fists, in any future encounters with our stalwart Avengers. Rivalling Tony Stark in the playboy stakes, and Thor for his knowledge of other worlds, Doctor Strange is the calibre of magic-wielding powerhouse that the Avengers will need if they intend to go up against threats outside of the confines of even the flexible science of comic-book movies.
Although he’s man who gathered The Defenders and sheltered the New Avengers while they were on the run, Strange isn’t exactly a team player, and his inscrutable aims and methods will doubtless cause conflict with not only the other heroes, but even Nick Fury… after all, there’s only room for one all-knowing bad ass calling the shots!
Co-creator (along with Spider-Man’s enigmatic Steve Ditko) Stan Lee listed him as one of the characters he’d like to see in Avengers 2, but more importantly than that, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige added it to his list, when asked by Movieline if he’d made all the movies he wanted to, saying, “We have! I mean, there are certainly others like Guardians [of the Galaxy], like Inhumans, like Doctor Strange that we haven’t yet, but I am confident that we will. So there’s a lot of satisfaction now, on the eve of Avengers, that this thing that was deemed impossible has actually occurred.”
If anyone can make the impossible possible, it’s Doctor Stephan Strange… although it certainly helps that a Doctor Strange movie is rumoured to be in development.
9 & 8. Ant-Man/Wasp
Secret identity: Hank Pym/Janet Van Dyne
First appearance: Tales To Astonish #27 (January 1962)/Tales To Astonish #44 (June 1963)
Powers: Control of ants, size alteration/Size alteration, flight, ‘sting’ energy blasts
It’s surprisingly likely this one, though Shaun Of The Dead/Hot Fuzz/Scott Pilgrim Vs The World writer/director Edgar Wright has been attached to an Astonishing Ant-Man from roughly around the same time Christ was born, he recently announced that “Things are definitely happening, and other things are happening with other things as well. There’s some interesting plates spinning, and I dearly hope I’ll be shooting this year.”
Joss Whedon wanted Wasp in Avengers Assemble, before revisions tossed her to the wayside along with the Red Hulk (that bit was definitely a joke), and although Wright’s movie could easily feature the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang – the longest running of the miniscule Marvels – it’s far more likely to be Dr Henry ‘Hank’ Pym, later Giant Man, Yellowjacket, Goliath and a bunch of other rubbish names that didn’t stick nearly as well as his real one.
Partners, at first in crimefighting and then romantically, Pym builds the gadgets and size-altering ‘Pym particles’, and Van Dyne brings the sass. Although Pym’s genius is a pretty useful storyhook – he’s accidentally created a good number of The Avengers’ rogues gallery – that’s not a huge USP in a team that includes Bruce Banner and Tony Stark, instead their burgeoning relationship could provide an interesting subplot, along with the inevitable break down, alcoholism and abuse that allowed Steve Rogers to stage a violent intervention in defence of both Janet Van Dyne and his Forties values in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates.
7. The Vision
Secret identity: N/A
First appearance: The Avengers #57 (October 1968)
Powers: Density control (can go invulnerable or intangible), energy projection, flight, superhuman strength, intelligence, reflexes and senses
A core member of the team, The Vision was originally introduced as an antagonist, an android created by Hank Pym’s own creation-gone-rogue Ultron, The Vision’s broad power palette would serve the team well in the battle against broader cosmic threats such as those hinted at in the Avengers Assemble post-credit sequence.
6. Luke Cage
Secret identity: None, although his birth name is Carl Lucas.
First appearance: Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1 (June 1972)
Powers: Superhuman strength, stamina, and durability, accelerated healing factor, skilled street fighter
At the risk of bringing everyone down, Avengers Assemble is a cracking movie but it’s a bit of a white wash. Nick Fury is essentially a supporting character, though pivotal to the plot and bringing the ensemble together, what we need is a more representative character front and centre, one who is an everyman, a figure the audience can identify with regardless of ethnicity or background.
Black Panther, although a far more established member of comic-book Avengers definitely isn’t that character, he needs to carefully established in his own movie – he’s far to easy to catastrophically mishandle to just be dropped into a future movie. No, Luke Cage is that man, keeping our thunder gods and billionaires tethered to the world of real people, and the first to tell people they’re out of line.
Idris Elba is even pushing to take on the character, although he may have scuppered his chances by popping up as Heimdall in 2011’s Thor – not that this stopped Chris Evans from pulling double-duty as The Human Torch AND Captain America.
Secret identity: None
First appearance: Avengers #54 (July 1968)
Powers: Artificial intelligence with robotic body; abilities vary with each redesign
The Avengers mythos is definitely for want of some classic villains – Fox have already nabbled two of Marvel lore’s most iconic, Magneto in the X-Men franchise and Doctor Doom for its piddle-poor Fantastic Four movies.
Ultron has the distinction of being not only of the few characters intrinsically tied to the Avengers – he’s an artificial intelligence created by Avenger Henry Pym, and in turn the villainous creator of Avenger The Vision – but one with the necessary skill set to challenge whatever incarnation of Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes ends up on screen in the second movie. Composed of an adamantium outer body (the first use of adamantium in the Marvel-verse, long before Wolverine snarled his first), Ultron constantly modifies himself as better to kill his creator, and has at times exhibited powers as diverse as hypnotic mind control, and a coma ray, to the basic box-fresh power palette of super strength, stanima, speed and flight.
Able to control any machines, almost impossible to destroy and patient enough to set up schemes that can brew over decades to strike at the team’s very core – taking over Iron Man’s armour, or infiltrating SHEILD with android duplicates.
4 & 3. Scarlet Witch/Quicksilver
Secret identity: Wanda Maximoff/Pietro Maximoff
First appearance: X-Men #4 (March 1964)
Powers: Probability manipulation, reality alteration/Superhuman speed
This is as much a matter of long term strategy as it is crackin’ narrative, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were first established as villains in X-Men but joined the Avengers just over a year later in May 1965, which makes their status ambiguous – something Marvel Movies head honcho Kevin Feige has chewed over.
“It’s a little complicated,” Feige revealed in an interview with HeyUGuys. “If [20th Century Fox] want to use them in the X-Men movies they could, if we want to use them in the Avengers movie we could.”
As franchises, Marvel definitely outclass 20th Century Fox – X-Men: First Class was good, but it was a modest suggest at the box office, and by adopting the mutant Maximoff twins, Marvel would be better positioned to hoover up the characters from that universe if things don’t go the way Fox hopes, starting of course with their father, mutant terrorist Magneto – played by Michael Fassbender in the aforementioned Sixties prequel/soft reboot, and Sir Iain McKellan in Bryan Singer’s three films.
Narratively, both characters offer up power sets currently not represented in the team – Pietro a super-speedster, and Wanda a ‘witch’ possessing vaguely defined probability altering ‘hex’ powers that can make almost anything happen. The pair are largely inseperable, with the haughty Quicksilver frequently rushing to Wanda’s defence – imagine a scrap between the world’s fastest mutant and the one-man WMD when our playboy philanderer Tony Stark inevitably sleazes her up.
Much as the shadow of the Phoenix Saga loomed large over the third part of Singer’s X-trilogy, the lamentable X-Men: The Last Stand, future Avengers movies – perhaps the last in the series – could deal with her slow unravelling, as tortured by the loss of her children, she begins to warp reality on a larger and larger scale. In the comic-books this arc, Avengers Dissembled, is followed-up by the epic House Of M, where attempting to put things right she creates a world ruled over by her father, where Captain America never received the serum, and Iron Man is a member of a human resistance.
Perhaps best saved until the future of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men line is decided, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver nonetheless posit extraordinary storytelling possibilities.
2. Ms Marvel
Secret identity: Carol Danvers
First appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (March 1968)
Powers: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and durability, energy projection and absorption, flight
There’s a similar argument here to the one for Luke Cage – Scarlet Johansson’s Black Window is the sole female character in the super-sausagefest, and even she relies upon attributes that are thought of as being largely feminime. Sure, she kicks ass, but she does so through agility, and isn’t afraid to use her sexuality to get what she wants.
Whedon and Johansson recently complained about the lack of decent female superhero movies in a round table, with Joss saying, “Studios will tell you: A woman cannot headline an action movie. After The Hunger Games they might stop telling you that a little bit. Whatever you think of the movie, it’s done a great service. And after The Avengers, I think it’s changing.”
Avengers Assemble 2 could easily redress that!
Joss Whedon slipped in a few references to DC’s wilful Power Girl in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and the Marvel answer to the blonde, no-nonsense powerhouse is the politically conservative, super-strong Ms Marvel. Throughout the comics’ Civil War and Secret Invasion arcs, she took on the role of the team bruiser, and even leader when the government’s unpopular stance on superhuman registration drove most of the traditional Avengers underground.
With a certain amount of conflict between Nick Fury’s SHIELD and the team already established in Avengers Assemble, along with a reluctance of the heavy hitters to toe the line, if the divide were ever to widen in a sequel or threequel, Ms Marvel’s duty bound ex-US Air Force officer would take her orders, no matter how unpalatable, square up to Thor or Iron Man, and do what needs to be done.
1. Baron Zemo
Secret identity: Helmut J Zemo
First appearance: Captain America #168 (December 1973)
Powers: Scientific genius, Master swordsman and hand-to-hand fighter, Skilled strategist, Slowed aging, Superhuman strength, speed and agility
Kevin Feige reckons that Captain America 2 is going to tie in the closest to Avengers Assemble 2, so why not introduce a villain that Cap can smack around, yet with machinations and allies nefarious enough to trouble our team-up?
Actually the names of two characters, a father and son, the original Baron Zemo (Dr Heinrich Zemo) was a wartime nemesis for our star-spangled super soldier. A Nazi super-scientist and weapons builder, Zemo fled to South America when Cap was presumed dead, leaving his infant son and wife behind. When Cap resurfaced as a member of The Avengers, Zemo too reappeared to challenge them. His son, raised on a steady diet of Master Race, later followed in his father’s footsteps.
Perhaps Zemo I could be introduced in Captain America 2 in the war-era flashbacks, while the present day deals with the now elderly, albeit genetically/technologically altered and enhanced Baron as he hunts down his abandoned son (or grandson) to prepare him for a final battle against the hated Captain America, so that come Avengers Assemble 2 the torch can be passed to the leaner and more venomous Helmut Zemo, who assumes control of Hydra for a strike against the entire Avengers…