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In Avengers #1 from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the original team of Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, and Hulk faced off against Loki. So there was a certain symmetry to having Loki being one of the foes of the Avengers in the 2012 film version (along with the Chitauri). However, the Avengers comics have now been published for over 50 years, so there are a lot of enemies during that time. Many of them have been really interesting, enduring, and directly linked to the Avengers.
So who are the top 5 foes of the Avengers throughout their comic history?
This might seem like a cheat, but it’s really true if you think about it that one of the biggest foes of the Avengers are… the Avengers. Ever since Brian Michael Bendis ushered in the most recent age of the team with Avengers Disassembed in 2004-2005, in which Scarlet Witch goes crazy and attacks her teammates, there has been a consistent trend of Avengers fighting Avengers. It continued in World War Hulk, Civil War, and even to Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers/Illuminati dichotomy in recent Avengers and New Avengers. Certainly, there are other examples of teammates fighting in older issues of Avengers as well. There have been a lot of heroes versus heroes in 21st Century Marvel Comics, and the Avengers have been at the center of a lot of it. The trend has carried over to the 2012 Avengers film, in which there was some initial in-fighting among the team, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, where at least Iron Man and Hulk will duke it out.
Even though The Kree debuted in Fantastic Four, they have been a foe to the Avengers just as often. A number of Kree have sided with the Avengers, most notably Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell). In many cases, the Kree are not out to be foes of the Avengers as their main goal, but their species’ hawkish nature and ruthless agendas have often put them at odds with Earth. The original “Kree-Skrull War” saga began in Avengers #89. The Kree later went to war with another space civilization, the Shi’ar, forcing the Avengers to again intervene during “Operation: Galactic Storm,” which took place in Avengers and related titles during 1992. The Kree would figure to play a large part in the future films Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 & Part 2.
Which villains could ever stand a chance against “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?” Well, The Masters of Evil, an equally-powerful collection of villains bound on revenge have been formed on numerous occasions and have fought the Avengers tough and even beaten them. The line-up of the Masters of Evil has rotated frequently, starting all the way back in Avengers #6. They have been led by Baron Zemo (father and son) as well as other evil-doers. The Masters of Evil’s biggest moment came when they stormed the Avengers’ mansion and took it over, nearly killing Hercules in the process, during the “Under Siege” storyline (starting in Avengers #270).
The time traveler Kang the Conquerer ranks as one of the greatest foes of the Avengers and has found himself frequently squaring off with the team. The fact that he is from the future means that he has more advanced technology than even Tony Stark. Plus, he is usually able to transport anywhere in time, giving him incredible knowledge and perspective. In encounters with the Avengers, he has assumed various aliases such as Immortus and Iron Lad. As with many types of time travel, Kang’s character history can be somewhat confusion, though it also allows his character to play the “long game” while trying to be victorious. Kang’s ability to move through time means that he will likely always torment the Avengers, something he did most recently during Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers (Volume 1).
The makers of Avengers: Age of Ultron picked well with their antagonist, as Ultron more than any other advisary is affiliated with the Avengers. On one hand, it’s because he is so powerful, persistent, and inventive. However, there is also the great connection Ultron has to the team. Hank Pym invented Ultron with good intentions though the robot ultimately turned into a Frankenstein and rebelled against his creator. Ultron remained obsessed with defeating the Avengers, especially Pym. Likewise, Ultron separately created future Avengers The Vision and Jocasta, who in turn rebelled against their maker to become heroes. Throughout the decades of stories, Ultron has always found a way to become a new and even more dangerous threat, and he will likely continue to be one of the foes of the Avengers as long as there is an Avengers team.
What do you think? Who else ranks as one of the top foes of the Avengers?