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Which Characters Deserve To Join The Avengers In The Next Movie?

This Friday, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” hits theaters, and three new faces will join the team: the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and the Vision.1 These characters are Avengers mainstays in the comics, with a combined 146 years of involvement with the team, and are among the most prominent characters in the mainline Marvel comic book universe.

So the obvious question becomes: Who’s next to join the Avengers squad in the Marvel cinematic universe (MCU)?

One way to try to answer that question is to look at the most commonly appearing Avengers in the comics, which I pulled from the Marvel Wikia page.2

Here are the top 15 characters by appearance count:3

Screenshot 2015-04-28 17.07.51

Spider-Man Peter Benjamin Parker 4,333
Captain America Steven Rogers 3,458
Wolverine Logan Howlett 3,130
Iron Man Tony Stark 3,068
Thor Thor Odinson 2,402
The Thing Benjamin Jacob Grimm 2,305
Mr. Fantastic Reed Richards 2,125
The Hulk Robert Bruce Banner 2,089
Beast Henry P. McCoy 1,886
The Invisible Woman Susan Richards 1,761
Storm Ororo Munroe 1,598
Namor Namor McKenzie 1,561
Hawkeye Clinton Francis Barton 1,456
Daredevil Matt Murdock 1,375
Doctor Strange Doctor Stephen Vincent Strange 1,324

A lot of familiar faces! We’ve got most of the squad from the movies here. But this basic ranking isn’t a great way to tell who is likely to get a coveted Avengers membership card in the MCU.

Why? Lawyers, mostly. Marvel has sold the rights to many of these characters. So let’s remove all the characters who have already appeared in the MCU and all the characters Marvel doesn’t have the rights to — mainly X-Men and members of the Fantastic Four.4 Here’s what we’re left with:

fallback-image (38)

Spider-Man Peter Benjamin Parker 4,333
Namor Namor McKenzie 1,561
Daredevil Matt Murdock 1,375
Doctor Strange Doc. Stephen Vincent Strange 1,324
Ant-Man Henry Jonathan Pym 1,269
Wasp Janet van Dyne 1,165
Captain Marvel Carol Susan Jane Danvers 935
She-Hulk Jennifer Walters 933
Luke Cage Carl Lucas 886
Black Panther T’Challa 780
Hercules Heracles 741
Wonder Man Simon Williams 692
Iron Fist Daniel Thomas Rand K’ai 629
A-Bomb Richard Milhouse Jones 612
The Human Torch Jim Hammond (alias) 565

Many of these characters are already slated to have their own entries in the universe. Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Captain Marvel and Black Panther all have movies queued up between now and the end of 2019. Moreover, Marvel has a deal with Netflix to produce several MCU-based televisions shows. Daredevil already has a Netflix show, and Luke Cage and Iron Fist will soon follow on the small streaming screen. Maybe they’ll wind up on the big screen at some point.

So who’s missing?

Namor. The rights to Namor — one of the oldest Marvel characters — are “complicated,” so while it’s plausible that we could see him in a movie, sorting out the legal issues may just be too much work to do for a character that doesn’t have immense name recognition.5

Then comes Janet van Dyne, a.k.a. Wasp, a founding Avenger who’s the ex-wife of Hank Pym. Pym will appear in the forthcoming “Ant-Man” movie, but it’s not yet clear if van Dyne will live and breathe in the MCU.6

Then we get to Jennifer Walters, or She-Hulk, the attorney cousin of Bruce Banner. She-Hulk has been a presence in the Avengers since the early 1980s, and Marvel owns the rights to her entirely. She may be the next major addition to the MCU. What’s more, the She-Hulk just had an acclaimed run of her own in the comic books.

In short: She-Hulk in 2020. I’m calling it. Let’s get a police procedural with She-Hulk working in the district attorney’s office. Or at least a cameo in Daredevil. Sure beats a Wonder Man movie, if you ask me.


  1. I have not seen this movie yet, so I don’t know if the fact that they’re introducing three longtime Avengers in an Avengers movie means that they will end up as members of the actual team. But I have a hunch?

  2. I used this data last year to gauge the diversity of the Marvel and DC comic book universes, and although “appearance count” is liable to change month-to-month as the characters, you know, appear in more stuff, it still seems to be a solid measure of how entrenched these characters are in comic book history.

  3. Not counting Dark, New Dark or Astonishing Avengers, because those are all generally bad guys and comics are weird.

  4. Spider-Man is complicated. Sony and Marvel reached a deal to include the web slinger in an MCU movie, but it’s not yet clear is what that means for villains associated with the character. As a result, I’m not counting Agent Venom as a plausible Avenger.

  5. Fun fact: Namor adversary the Human Torch’s costume briefly cameoed in “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

  6. Mild spoiler: Not seeing a credit for Janet on the IMDb page.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.