The Avengers are “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” for a reason, but their decades of comic book history are still filled with lost battles and other failures. Occasional bouts of infighting, negligence, and low morale have led Marvel’s A-list superhero team to make poor decisions from time to time. It is nothing to be embarrassed about. We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, mistakes are a bit more noticeable when you constantly try to save the universe.
There’s no shortage of reasons to root for the premier defenders of the Marvel universe. However, here’s a look at the 10 worst things the Avengers did in the comics.
10 Created Ultron
Creating an omnipotent robot hell-bent on destroying humanity is definitely considered a faux pas. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man and Avengers founder, used his brain patterns to create an artificial intelligence that evolved into their greatest foe. Ultron’s terrorized the Avengers ever since Pym created him decades ago. Annihilation: Conquest (2007-2008) even shows Ultron go cosmic to conquer the entire Kree empire. He is without a doubt one of the most dangerous entities in all of comics thanks to the genius Avenger mind he simulates. Pym is a controversial Avenger for his laundry list of mistakes, but Ultron might be the biggest one.
9 Ignited A Civil War Between Superheroes
One of the most popular crossover events in comic book history is based entirely on the Avengers’ utter failure. The “Civil War” (2006-2007) arc engulfs the entire Marvel universe in violent conflict. When Captain America and Iron Man disagree over a new law forcing superheroes to expose their secret identities, the Avengers are forced to pick sides.
Failure to find common ground leads to a massive brawl between superhero armies in New York City. The collateral damage is so significant that Captain America quickly surrenders. Fallout from the war ruins the lives of just about every Marvel hero.
8 Ignited Another Civil War Between Superheroes
The first “Civil War” arc debates who we label heroes. In “Civil War 2” (2016), Iron Man and Captain Marvel fight about who we label villains. When the Avengers discover an Inhuman child capable of predicting catastrophic events, the heroes clash over the ethics of punishing people for crimes they haven’t committed yet. Once again, the heroes fail to compromise and the rest of the Marvel universe suffers the consequences. After starting two civil wars, it is fair to say that maybe Iron Man needs to take a break from politics.
7 War With The X-Men
For Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers can’t seem to go a few issues without getting into another war with good guys. Marvel’s two flagship teams skirmish all of the time, but their biggest battle ever plays out in the crossover event Avengers vs. X-Men (2012).
After the mutant population is decimated, the X-Men attempt to harness Dark Phoenix energy to bring back the dead. Fearful of Dark Phoenix, the Avengers overreact and declare all-out war on mutantkind. It’s a rush to judgement that traumatizes the entire mutant community. The X-Men can’t even enjoy their narrow victory.
6 Just Gave Up And Quit
The crossover event Avengers: Disassembled (2004-2005) is famous for splitting up the classic team line-up. The Avengers suffer bitter defeat at the hands of Dr. Doom when he brainwashes Scarlett Witch to commit a series of bizarre attacks. Her destruction causes a chain reaction of events that leads to several Avengers dying in a battle to save New York City. Morale is so low that Iron Man retires and the Avengers reluctantly agree to have their security clearances revoked. Despite their fallen comrades, it’s still hard to forgive so many Avengers for just walking away from their duties.
5 Formed The West Coast Avengers
Okay, Vision appointing Hawkeye to start a new team of Avengers to keep watch over California doesn’t sound as bad as creating murder androids. The Avengers certainly made worst mistakes in the past, but their West Coast offshoot is still one of the most embarrassing.
Thanks to an inconsistent roster and less than impressive heroics, the West Coast Avengers are infamous as a painfully unnecessary edition to the Marvel universe. Unable to find their footing in the big leagues, the West Coast Avengers eventually accept their general incompetence and finally disband.
4 Trusted The Supreme Intelligence
The Kree and Skrull are two advanced alien races who just cannot seem to get along. Both species have been at war with each other since their introductions to the Marvel universe. When yet another fight breaks out, the seminal “Kree-Skull War” (1971-1972) arc shows the Avengers pledge allegiance to the Kree and Supreme Intelligence, their artificial intelligence leader. After the Avengers kill countless Skrulls in battle, they realize the war is actually part of a scheme conjured up by the Supreme Intelligence to expand Kree power. The Avengers save the Skrull, but only after dozens of bloody brawls.
3 Also Trusted A Hydra Agent
The Secret Empire (2017) crossover event is one of the most controversial storylines in comic book history. Replaced by a version of himself loyal to Hydra, Captain America leads a fascist takeover of the American government. The Avengers make the hard decision to rebel against their best friend and leader, but they still don’t get a pass for letting him takeover in the first place. Not realizing the leader of your superhero team is indeed a supervillain is flunking some pretty basic Superhero Team 101 material. You can’t blame innocent comic book readers, but at least the Avengers should have seen the twist coming.
2 Let The Apocalypse Twins Destroy Earth
A pair of mutants travel back in time to murder a celestial being and steal his power to conquer the Marvel universe. Sadly, a special lineup of X-Men and Avengers that appear in the Uncanny Avengers series fail to stop them. Although Scarlett Witch later restores Earth, the initial battle destroys the entire planet. Despite their best efforts, the X-Men and Avengers fail to work together to stop the Apocalypse Twins. The situation can only be “fixed” by teleporting mutants to another planet, which only intensifies the divide between mutantkind and Avengers. It’s not just another lost battle, but a huge setback in the struggle for mutant equality.
1 Lost To The Justice League
At least the loser of this battle doesn’t have to worry about mass destruction, just bragging rights. The Grandmaster pits the iconic superhero teams against each other for his own amusement in the limited series JLA/Avengers (2003-2004). Tired of his mind games, the Avengers decide to throw the battle in favor of the Justice League. While certainly not the Avengers’ worst moment, it definitely sows division between fans of DC and Marvel comics. Even years later, many Marvel fans refuse to accept the outcome of the battle. It probably won’t be the last big mistake the Avengers make, either.