- The original six Avengers, including Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, were considered the core team of the MCU’s first three Phases.
- All original six Avengers will likely have their legacy continued in Phases 5 and 6, despite some of them dying in the Infinity Saga.
- Outside of Hawkeye, Thor, and Hulk potentially appearing in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, others like Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow could appear in Avengers: Secret Wars as multiversal variants.
Given the ever-increasing roster of heroes in the MCU of late, many may wonder what has become of the original six Avengers introduced in 2012’s The Avengers. In the Infinity Saga, much of the crux of the MCU’s story revolved around the six main Avengers of Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. While naturally more characters were introduced to aid these heroes, these six were widely regarded as the core team of the MCU’s first three Phases.
With the beginning of Phase 4 though, the concept of who the core team in the MCU consists of has become more muddled. The expansion of the MCU’s characters, stories, and universe has allowed for this, alongside the absence of some of the original six Avengers. With this expansion only set to continue in the long list of Marvel’s upcoming movies, here is a definitive recap on where the original six Avengers are in the MCU now and what some of their future holds.
Arguably one of the more important original Avengers to the MCU in terms of story was Tony Stark/Iron Man. The character made some MCU appearances before first debuting as an MCU Avenger in 2012 with The Avengers. There, he teamed up with the other five core members to defeat the invading Loki and save New York City from alien conquerors. Since then, Iron Man’s journey evolved a lot in the MCU.
His PTSD over the events of The Avengers was explored in Iron Man 3 before he again saved the world from a universe-altering threat of his own creation in Avengers: Age of Ultron. After this, his and Captain America’s difference of opinion on the Sokovia Accords saw the Avengers break up in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War which also led Iron Man to become the mentor of the MCU’s Spider-Man. Then, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame saw Tony Stark reunite the Avengers and battle against the Mad Titan Thanos in a conflict that was the culmination of the entire Infinity Saga and Tony’s journey.
In Avengers: Endgame, Tony sacrificed his life to use the Infinity Gauntlet, causing Thanos and his minions to be wiped from existence, saving the Marvel cosmos, and ensuring the future of his newfound family. Given his death in Endgame, Tony has not appeared in the MCU since apart from brief flashes in Spider-Man: Far From Home or other references to his life. His legacy still lives on in the MCU, something that will become even clearer in the franchise’s future.
What’s Next For Iron Man
Even after his death, there are some ways Iron Man will return in the future. What If…? season 2 is set to feature Tony Stark given that the project consists of anthology episodes that explore the vast MCU multiverse. Furthermore, the character of Riri Williams/Ironheart was introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as the true successor to Iron Man after she built a Stark Tech suit meaning Tony’s legacy will likely be felt in the upcoming Ironheart series.
Also, the upcoming Armor Wars project will center on Tony’s tech getting into the wrong hands, another MCU story that will likely feature Tony in some way despite his passing. Similarly, the multiversal aspect of the MCU could see Iron Man return. Rumors surrounding Avengers: Secret Wars state that MCU variants of the original Avengers will return in the film. If so, Iron Man could come back for the final Phase 6 film.
Arguably the second-most important original Avenger to the overall MCU story was Steve Rogers/Captain America. Labeled the First Avenger in his 2011 debut film of the same name, Steve went on to become the leader of the Avengers in the 2012 film. Taking control of the Battle of New York, Steve’s tactical mind and inspiring courage led the Avengers to victory against Loki.
He went on to battle HYDRA – a rogue Nazi science division he fought in World War II – after they resurfaced under the mask of SHIELD. Steve then aided the Avengers against Ultron before leading one section of the Avengers during Civil War. Given his opposition to Iron Man and the Sokovia Accords, Steve and his allies went into hiding for five years after becoming fugitives, only to return to action when Thanos invaded Earth in Avengers: Infinity War.
Steve fought in the Battle of Wakanda, unable to prevent Thanos from decimating 50% of all life in the universe. Five years later in Avengers: Endgame, he led the Avengers one final time on a mission to retrieve the Infinity Stones, bring everyone who was lost back, and defeat Thanos. Steve was instrumental in this mission before he secretly returned to live with his first love Peggy Carter in the 1940s after utilizing the Quantum Realm to return the Infinity Stones to their rightful place in time. Steve returned an old man having lived a full life, retiring from the Avengers and passing down his mantle to Sam Wilson.
What’s Next For Captain America
While subsequent projects have referenced that Steve is dead in the MCU due to his old age, it is still unconfirmed what exactly happened to him. As such, he could appear physically again in the future however, if he does not, his legacy will still be felt as Iron Man’s will be. The upcoming Captain America: Brave New World centered on Sam Wilson will undoubtedly feature mention of Steve and see Sam striving to uphold the former’s legacy. Aside from this, the animated Steve Rogers is set to return in What If…? season 2, and a multiversal variant could potentially appear in Avengers: Secret Wars alongside Iron Man.
Rounding out the iconic Infinity Saga trio is Thor Odinson, one of the more powerful of the original six MCU Avengers. Like Steve and Tony, Thor officially became an Avenger in 2012’s The Avengers after learning to be worthy of his mythical hammer Mjolnir in 2011’s Thor. Since then, Thor saved the cosmos from Malekith the Dark Elf, helped to defeat Ultron alongside his fellow Avengers, and left Earth to investigate the Infinity Stones. This brought him into conflict with his half-sister Hela, whom he defeated alongside his brother Loki by unleashing Ragnarok and destroying Asgard.
Thanos then tracked down Thor’s escaping Asgardians, killed half of them, and took the Tesseract which contained the Space Stone, killing Loki and Thor’s best friend Heimdall in the process. Thor then opposed Thanos alongside the other Avengers in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, defeating him in the end. The self-imposed failure of Thor in the former led to him becoming depressed and gaining weight for the latter, something addressed in his post-Endgame film, Thor: Love and Thunder.
Thor regained contact with his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster who became worthy of Mjolnir while battling cancer. Alongside Jane and Valkyrie, Thor saved New Asgard from Gorr the God Butcher at the loss of Jane’s life. Thor was last seen in the MCU taking custody of Gorr’s daughter, now being an adopted father in the MCU.
What’s Next For Thor Odinson
Much more than Iron Man and Captain America, Thor’s capacity for future stories in the MCU is much bigger. While nothing is confirmed, Thor 5 could certainly be a possibility. If not, it is likely Thor returns in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty to help battle Kang the Conqueror. Like Steve and Tony, Thor will also likely appear as a multiversal variant in What If…? season 2.
Another of the more powerful original Avengers was Hulk/Bruce Banner. Since The Avengers, Hulk’s MCU journey was told in many different supporting roles due to the complications of the Hulk’s movie rights between Marvel and Universal. Responsible for aiding Tony in creating Ultron, Bruce rectified his mistake by defeating the villainous AI. Hulk was then stranded on Sakaar after flying away from Earth in Age of Ultron, reuniting with Thor after being Hulk for two years. Hulk gained some semblance of autonomy in this period, further separating his and Banner’s divide.
Hulk aided Thor in causing Ragnarok, before being sent to Earth by Heimdall before the latter’s death to warn the other Avengers of Thanos’ invasion. Bruce then fought in Avengers: Infinity War using Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor after the Hulk’s new independence saw him refuse Banner’s wishes. During the five-year time skip between Infinity War and Endgame, Bruce discovered a way to combine his mind with Hulk’s body, becoming the MCU’s Professor Hulk. Professor Hulk used the Infinity Gauntlet to return the Blipped 50% of the universe to life before fighting in the Battle of Earth against Thanos.
More recently, Hulk has appeared in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. During this series, it was revealed that Hulk sired a son during his two-year stint on Sakaar named Skaar. Skaar returned to Earth with his father at the end of She-Hulk, marking both of their most recent MCU appearances.
What’s Next For Hulk
Concerning what’s next for Bruce, his story may continue with Captain America: Brave New World. While he has not been confirmed for an appearance, Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Ross, and The Leader all from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk will appear. This makes Captain America 4 essentially an Incredible Hulk sequel, meaning Bruce could very well return in Phase 5. If not then, Hulk’s story will continue in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, unless Marvel Studios somehow retain the rights to a Hulk solo movie in the meantime.
Also becoming a titular hero in The Avengers was Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff. Since helping to fend off Loki’s invasion, Natasha aided Steve in uncovering HYDRA and defeated Ultron alongside her team. She then sided with Iron Man during Captain America: Civil War before switching sides and going on the run with Steve. During this time, Natasha reconnected with her family including her sister Yelena Belova, and confronted Dreykov, the leader of the Red Room where she was raised to be an assassin.
After defeating Dreykov, Widow returned to Steve and helped fight at the Battle of Wakanda. During the five-year Blip, Natasha attempted to continue the Avengers’ work before the plan was enacted to defeat Thanos. In order to retrieve the Soul Stone in Avengers: Endgame, Natasha sacrificed herself so that Hulk could bring everyone back to life and defeat Thanos.
What’s Next For Black Widow
Given her death in Avengers: Endgame, it is unlikely Natasha will appear again in the MCU outside of What If…? season 2. Her legacy was felt in Hawkeye through the titular character mourning her death and the continued appearance of her sister, Yelena. Like Steve and Tony, Natasha could return in Avengers: Secret Wars as a multiversal variant.
The final member of the original Avengers team was Hawkeye/Clint Barton. After being mind-controlled by Loki in The Avengers, Hawkeye was returned to consciousness and fought against the Asgardian. He then returned for the battle against Ultron where it was revealed he had a family, before siding with Captain America in the Civil War. Barton then agreed to a plea deal with the U.S. Government to allow him to live with his family under house arrest before they were Blipped by Thanos. Driven by grief and rage, Barton became Ronin, a wandering Samurai taking vengeance on surviving criminal organizations during the Blip.
Barton renounced his ways when he was told the Avengers could bring back everyone they lost, joining the Time Heist and helping to defeat Thanos. Since Avengers: Endgame, Barton has mentored the next Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, and retired with his family. As such, he is still alive in the MCU at present.
What’s Next For Hawkeye
Regarding what’s next for Barton, a potential Hawkeye season 2 would see him return. Besides that – and What If…? season 2 – it is difficult to predict where Barton will appear next. The logical choice is Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, with Barton leaving retirement to fight against Kang with the other remaining members from 2012’s The Avengers.