The Avengers team features some of the greatest heroes in the comic world. Ever since they formed to fight Thor’s evil brother, they have been a mainstay of Marvel Comics and the MCU. They’re a household name and everyone knows who they are. However, just because they have great characters doesn’t mean that it’s all handled perfectly. As a matter of fact, there were many times where the writers at Marvel introduced something so crazy and out there that we all wondered if they were in their right minds. Those who have read a lot of Marvel Comics know exactly what we are talking about.
This has led to many stories that were not only critically panned but even split the fanbase down the middle. It introduced many themes and concepts that some felt were inappropriate and dark for the comic world, regardless of whether it was done well or poorly. Fans of the Marvel heroes might be shocked to hear all of this, but we assure you that we’re not making it up. Just to prove it to you, we pulled 15 of the most controversial Avengers stories from the past decade. You can decide whether you want to like them or not.
15. DARK AVENGERS
Imagine a world where Norman Osborn became the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Well, that’s exactly what took place in the “Dark Reign” saga. In it, an invasion by the Skrulls took the Avengers out of the picture and the Green Goblin put himself in one of the most powerful positions in the entire world. He decided then, that it would be his responsibility to form a new team of Avengers.
He took many villains like Venom and Bullseye and turned them into twisted variants on classic heroes. Osborn took the mantle of Iron Patriot and led the team himself. While this story was interesting, many people were turned off by the fact that the Avengers team was filled with characters they didn’t empathize with.
14. CIVIL WAR
What if Marvel’s heroes were split down the middle? After a horrible accident known as the Stanford Incident that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people, the government released the Superhero Registration Act, which stated that any superhero in the U.S. had to register to the authorities and out their identities to the public. Iron Man, having caused his fair share of problems, was all for this change of pace. Captain America, on the other hand, felt that it was an obstruction of freedom.
Thus began an all-out war between the Avengers. Cap and his Secret Avengers fought valiantly, but in the end, more deaths were caused and destruction was wrought on the world, and the story lead to one of the most controversial deaths in the company’s history.
13. THE ULTIMATES
There are many things that most people don’t like about The Ultimates. It’s basically a different universe where the Avengers are instead a superhero team formed and ran by the government (Captain America is on this team) and do whatever they’re tasked to. But that premise alone isn’t what makes it so controversial.
There were many darker themes brought into the Ultimates story. For starters, Hank Pym became an abusive husband once more (more on that later), Iron Man and Black Widow had a sex tape scandal, and the twins Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were caught to be in a torrid romantic relationship for whatever reason. From there, it only went downhill, and it was only a matter of time before The Ultimates saw their end.
12. DEMON IN A BOTTLE
Iron Man hasn’t had an easy life, but “Demon in a Bottle” is where he hit his absolute lowest point. While he’s doing his job as a superhero, Tony Stark finds that his armor malfunctions. While he doesn’t think much of it at first, it results in the death of an important government official. After this happens, he gives up his suit and his spot as team leader of the Avengers.
In order to deal with his troubles, he also resorts to alcoholism. While it starts fairly normal at first, Tony Stark hits the wall extremely hard and becomes a full-blown alcoholic. He even ends up harming his butler, Jarvis, to the point where his faithful friend actually leaves the Stark residence. That’s some heavy stuff.
While not one of the team’s most famous stories, this issue will go down in infamy for the controversy surrounding it. We’d love to say that everything in Avengers (vol. 3) #71 starts off innocently enough, but the beginning is where all the trouble starts. Hank Pym, or Ant-Man, uses his incredible shrinking ability in the most creative ways as he shrinks down to size to pleasure a full-size Janet Van Dyne.
The rest of the issue involves a Pym proposing to Janet while in Las Vegas and her refusing. The awkward moment is thankfully (we guess) broken up by Whirlwind and a fight ensues between the two Avengers and the villain. The fight isn’t what makes this issue controversial, or even interesting. That honor goes to the “unique”way it started.
In the Ultimate Universe, Magneto’s children are killed, and it results in him wreaking havoc on the entire world, sending shockwaves to kill thousands of people at once. This force of rampage could only be stopped by Marvel’s heroes, but it doesn’t end in the way you would expect.
There are many deaths in this comic that are just too grotesque to be put on a comic, like when the Blob physically eats the Wasp, and then Goliath gets revenge by eating him. There were many moments like that in Ultimatum, which made many people somewhat glad that the Ultimate Universe was nearing its end. On all accounts, it was a silly way for such a great series to go out. If only more care had been taken to make it better.
9. SECRET WARS
There was an old version of Secret Wars that was fascinating and gave Peter Parker the black Spider-Man suit. Then there was the Secret Wars introduced in 2015, which Marvel would use to relaunch their entire continuity (for better or worse).
This version of Secret Wars saw Doctor Doom taking the powers of the Beyonder and creating his own perfect utopia. It’s up to Marvel heroes from across dimensions, like Old Man Logan and Ultimate Spider-Man, to get the job done and restore everything back. However, the entire story resulted in so many plot threads that people weren’t sure what to make of it. Furthermore, it marked the end of much of the continuity we had known and loved up until that point, and some weren’t completely on board.
8. ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT
Speaking of the relaunch that resulted at the end of Secret Wars, Marvel rebranded their stories as “All-New, All-Different”, which signified a change of pace for them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the success that they were hoping for, as many of the individual characters lost what made them so interesting in the first place.
There was a female Iron Man introduced that went by the moniker “Ironheart” (shockingly, people didn’t like her), Thor was now Jane Foster, Spider-Man was the owner of an entire business and Deadpool became an Avenger because Deadpool became an Avenger. Some of these changes were welcomed, but even the best storylines this run had to offer, like Black Panther, were done away with in favor of their long-term plans for the Marvel Universe.
7. AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED
The problem with creating a massive continuity is that when writers want to change it, they’ll do just about anything they can to make it happen. After the Avengers worked together for many years, the writers wanted to bring a new team to light, and decided that they would do it through “Avengers Disassembled”.
This story saw a lot of things going on at once. Doctor Doom hatched a plan to destroy the Avengers, Captain America ended a relationship, Vision threw up Ultron drones, Hawkeye was killed, the list goes on. What made it so controversial is that many of the classic Marvel heroes were killed off in favor of allowing a newer team to have their time in the spotlight. It wasn’t the greatest change of pace, and the fans weren’t supportive.
6. THE CHILD IS FATHER TO…?
When talking about controversy and the Avengers, there’s no better story to look at than Avengers #200. There have been some creepy tales in the past where brothers and sister would hook up and cousins would marry each other, but they don’t even come close to what took place in this comic.
Ms. Marvel begins the issue pregnant, but the baby comes out in a matter of days and becomes fully grown within a few hours. Apparently, this child grows into the man whom she had relations with in the first place to become pregnant. Immediately, there was such an outcry against this issue that Marvel had to later release a comic that saw Ms. Marvel chastising her teammates for allowing her to travel dimensions with her lover child.
5. SECRET EMPIRE
The newest story on this list, “Secret Empire” has stirred up a lot of hate from comic fans (particularly on the DC side of things). It begins with a shocking revelation that Captain America is actually working for Hydra. That’s a big red flag off the bat, but it only goes downhill from there.
The comic makes it seem like he’s being mind-controlled at times, but he continuously proves that theory wrong. He acts on his own accord and actually kills another one of the Avengers. Now that the story has developed, Captain America is sporting a costume that is completely reminiscent of the classic Hydra suits. Many people didn’t like seeing the valiant Cap portrayed this way and have stayed away from the comic as a result, even though all ends well for Mr. Rogers.
4. CIVIL WAR II
If you asked us if Marvel put out Civil War II around the time Captain America: Civil War came out just to increase sales, we’d have to say yes — and it shows in the comic. “Civil War” was already heavily criticized for the many things it changed about the Marvel Universe as well as how it ended, but “Civil War II” didn’t improve on any of those points.
The problem many people had is that it took a heroic character like Captain Marvel and made her seem unrelatable — Iron Man became the one that we identified with. It wasn’t a conflict that we could get invested in because lines weren’t blurred, and it seemed to force feed tension just for the sake of tension. People haven’t talked about “Civil War II” like they did the original “Civil War” and that’s because no one wants to.
3. KANG DYNASTY
Many villains have tried to take over the world, and few have actually succeeded. That was the trend in comics — a bad guy comes to Earth and threatens all life, and the heroes work together to stop him. Enter Marvel wanting to do things a little differently with their villain, Kang the Conqueror (he had to get that name somehow).
Being a bad guy from the future, he came to Earth and was ready to fight off just about anyone. Not only was he effective, but he succeeded in doing so. He destroyed monuments on Earth. Many people were shocked to see this route taken, and it was controversial because of that. A lot of people didn’t like seeing the heroes lose and the Earth ruled by a villain. Nonetheless, it’s what we got in “Kang Dynasty”.
2. AVENGERS FOREVER
Kang the Conqueror didn’t attack the world just once. He would later come back to cause even more problems for the Marvel heroes. In the Avengers Forever storyline, he was chasing after a force that would give him ultimate power over the universe. This spawned a team of Avengers being pulled from incredibly different timelines, including a mentally unstable Yellowjacket, and a Captain America with immense super strength.
While they were unlikely allies, they all worked together to bring down Kang, but the controversy occurs when you consider the ridiculousness of the lineup itself. Furthermore, some of the realities were brought into the mainline Marvel continuity after this comic was over — which spawned more controversy as it makes it much more difficult for people to keep up.
There is no Avengers story more notorious than the saga that is Hank Pym’s life. When talking about Hank Pym, it’s impossible to ignore what occurred in Avengers #213. In this storyline, Hank Pym was mentally spiralling downward as he experimented more with his Pym Particles. He had taken the identity of Yellowjacket at that time, and that was one of his worst personas.
As he tried to solve more problems, his wife Janet entered the scene to try and talk some sense into him. Instead of listening like a normal human being, he responded with backhanding her to the ground. From that point, the Avengers would step in and alienate Pym from the team. Fans were unsure of what to make of this darker take on one of their beloved Marvel heroes.
What other Avengers stories were controversial to you? Let us know in the comments!
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