In the “Avengers” comic books, the “Who's Going to Be an Avenger?” issue has become a tradition.
Jason Dasenbrock loves it.
At the end of each of those issues, “they always have a press conference and Captain America says, ‘Avengers Assemble!,'” said the co-owner of Legend Comics in Omaha.
We've known for months that “The Avengers” film, which releases Friday, will feature longstanding members of the team, and arguably its most popular characters: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Incredible Hulk.
The film is expected to be one of the summer's biggest blockbusters. It doesn't come out until Friday, but it's already raking in millions. Overseas, where it's already showing, “The Avengers” has raked in $185.1 million. According to MovieTickets.com, more advance tickets have been sold to “The Avengers” than all of Marvel Studios' previous films combined.
Over the years, almost 100 characters have been called an Avenger on one or more teams such as the Mighty Avengers, New Avengers and West Coast Avengers. Since the six from the film are awash in exposure, we thought we'd look at our favorite Avengers who aren't in the movie. Plenty of people still love characters such as Vision and Ms. Marvel, including readers we polled on Twitter and Facebook and at local comic stores.
“Most of the Marvel Universe managed to be on the team at some point,” said Dean Phillips, a longtime Avengers fan and owner of Krypton Comics.
The movie will bring even more exposure to Captain America, Iron Man and their friends. In fact, customers at local comic shops have been buying more Avengers comics in anticipation of the film.
So here's a wish list, compiled from suggestions by our staff and many readers.
Real name: T'Challa
Who is he? The first black superhero in mainstream comics, Black Panther is the king of the fictional African nation Wakanda. A panther deity granted him powers.
Why we like him: “He was an Avenger in my favorite period for the team,” said Dasenbrock. Panther's a powerful hero and a good leader, making him a natural fit for the Avengers.
First appearance: “Fantastic Four” No. 52, 1966
Real name: Hank Pym
Who is he? One of the founding members of the Avengers (he was Ant-Man at the time), he can change size from normal to, well, gigantic.
Why we like him: Giant-Man is a down and dirty scientist. “I think the team needs a scientist who's a real scientist with a white coat,” said Dave DeMarco, co-owner of Legend Comics. “Tony Stark (Iron Man's alter ego)? He's an action-playboy scientist.” Giant-Man's also an interesting character because's he's not perfect. Pym created the sentient robot Ultron, one of the Avengers' greatest villains.
Why isn't he in the movie? Ant-Man is supposedly getting his own film.
First appearance: “Tales to Astonish” No. 27, 1962
Real name: Janet van Dyne
Who is she? When she shrinks, Wasp grows wings and fires energy blasts. She's a founding Avenger and has long been in a relationship with Giant-Man.
Why we like her: She may be tiny, but she packs a serious punch. Also, she named the Avengers.
First appearance: “Tales to Astonish” No. 44, 1963
Real name: None
Who is he? The evil Ultron created the android Vision to fight the Avengers, but he turned on his creator and helped the superhero team.
Why we like him: His struggle with human emotions and calculating robotic behavior make him a great character.
Why isn't he in the movie? “Vision's probably hard to relate to because he's an android,” said Phillips of Krypton Comics. He has been a popular character and appeared in several Avengers video games. We wouldn't be surprised to see a half-built Vision laying on a lab table somewhere in the background of the film.
First appearance: “The Avengers” No. 57, 1968
Real name: Wanda Maximoff
Who is she? The Scarlet Witch has reality-bending powers, is the daughter of X-Men villain Magneto and was married to the Vision. At one point, she turned bad and destroyed most of the mutants on the planet.
Why we like her: Her sometimes-good, sometimes-bad personality makes for some great storytelling.
First appearance: “X-Men” No. 4, 1964
Real name: Carol Danvers
Who is she? A former CIA and NASA employee, Danvers was exposed to cosmic energy on an adventure with Captain Marvel and gained flight, super-strength and the ability to shoot energy beams.
Why we like her: She's a strong leader and has ties to the X-Men, Avengers and the Starjammers. It doesn't hurt that she was No. 29 in Comics Buyer's Guide's list of the “100 Sexiest Women in Comics.”
Why isn't she in the movie? We're not sure. The team could use another female character and she is pretty popular.
First appearance: “Marvel Super-Heroes” No. 13, 1967
Real name: Hank McCoy
Who is he? A blue-furred mutant and original member of the X-Men, Beast is an acrobat and a talented scientist.
Why we like him: “I like it when they mix it up a little bit,” said Joel Ballard of Omaha. “He's an X-Men guy, but I always loved Beast on the Avengers.”
Why isn't he in the movie? The rights to the character of Beast are tied up in the “X-Men” films. Fox retains those rights, so he won't show up in an “Avengers” film, which is produced and distributed by Marvel and Disney.
First appearance: “X-Men” No. 1, 1963
Real name: Doreen Green
Who is she? In the way that Spider-Man has spider powers, Squirrel Girl has squirrel powers. She tried to team up with Iron Man, but he rejected her. She's currently a nanny for the daughter of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones of the New Avengers.
Why we like her: One reader mentioned her as a joke, but Keith Binder of Omaha and others jumped to her defense. “It's not funny,” Binder said. “I'm serious. She's great.” Dave DeMarco added, “I hope she gets her own film where she's played by Ellie Kemper from ‘The Office.'” In the comics, Squirrel Girl has beaten nearly everyone she's faced, so she's certainly formidable.
Why isn't she in the movie? She's almost too goofy for the comics, so an appearance in “The Avengers” is pushing it.
First appearance: “Marvel Super-Heroes: Winter Special” No. 8, 1992
Real name: Heather Douglas
Who is she? A telepath, master martial artist and super-smart genetic scientist, the bald beauty that is Moondragon joined with the Avengers to fight Thanos, a godlike villain. She's also one of the few bisexual characters in comics.
Why we like her: “Her powers,” said Christopher McLucas of Omaha. “Psychic powers trip me out.”
First appearance: “Iron Man” No. 54, 1973
Real name: Jessica Drew
Who is she? She uses bioelectric powers to form “venom blasts” sufficient to stun or kill normal humans. She's super-strong, can adhere to any surface and is immune to all poisons and drugs. Maybe her most interesting power is a pheromone she generates that attracts men and repulses women.
Why we like her: “I like her whole crazy story,” said Jared Cvetas of Omaha. Spider-Woman got her powers from a mad geneticist, became an agent for the evil group Hydra and then a double agent for the good guys in S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. Only a comic book character could have that history.
First appearance: “Marvel Spotlight” No. 32, 1977