In Defense of the Weakest Avenger – Why The MCU Needs More Than Just Gods
We have been dealing with non-supernatural leads in comic book stories for decades. Even Batman, one of the most well-known heroic names globally, is ultimately pretty powerless if not for his wealth. But his acclaim left nobody batting an eye. However, when the Marvel Cinematic Universe began its formation, and especially at the beginning of the Avengers’ group appearances, fans started to get unusually upset with the mere existence of characters like Hawkeye and Black Widow. After all, why bother paying attention to them when we literally have Gods, like Thor, to watch? Well, we’re here to say that it doesn’t matter anymore. There is a defense to be made when talking about who the weakest Avenger is, and the defense is that it doesn’t matter who lacks otherworldy abilities. They’re all heroes in our books.
A Defense For The Weakest Avenger, If There Even Is One At All
Many moviegoers had some thoughts to share following the release of 2012’s The Avengers. Of course, there were debates about who the strongest Avenger was or which powerful player they wanted to see as the next villain or addition to the team. But if somebody even dared to bring up a character like Hawkeye or Black Widow, a reaction would be immediate. “Why are they even here?” “I could literally do that.” Or my personal least favorite, “She’s just there to look hot for the male audience members.” And if you think these are at all far-fetched, just know that I’ve heard them all more than once. And I’m sure that many of you have, too, even if you weren’t always paying attention.
There is no question that watching characters with intense abilities like flight, super strength, or speed is exhilarating. We can’t do that stuff, but we can certainly pretend what it would be like if we could. And when heroes like Thor come into the conversation, there are even more possibilities for daydreaming out there! I mean, he’s a God! But when we’re talking about heroism, there is more than just godlike characteristics to consider when making a good roster.
Let’s imagine that we’re doing a schoolyard pick for people on an imaginary superhero team, like our own personal teammates, if we were in the events of Captain America: Civil War. Only this time, no character is off-limits, even if they’re trapped on Sakaar. Yeah, we won’t deny that heroes like Thor, Captain Marvel, Scarlett Witch, and Dr. Strange would be close to the top of our picks. But I would pick Black Widow or Ant-Man over Captain America or the Hulk almost any day of the week.
Image via Marvel Studios.
Weaker Heroes Give Us Something To Fight For
One draw of the more human superheroes is their capacity for goodness. If you’ve got wild powers, then it’s pretty obvious that you’ll end up on one side of the spectrum. Maybe you’ll be a vigilante, a full-blown villain, or somebody that would fight to the death to make sure that the world stays safe. But that’s because with great power comes great responsibility. When there isn’t great power to begin with, where does the responsibility come from?
Characters like Clint Barton don’t grow up knowing that they owe the world their powers. Instead, there’s an intrinsic desire to help the world do good things. They have a strong moral compass without any prerequisites. And sometimes, they don’t always start this way. Oftentimes we see characters deal with trauma, betrayal, or some sort of injustice, encouraging them to pick up a bow, an arrow, or a gym membership so that they can become what others are born into.
Think about Clint in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He has a beautiful wife, loving children, and enough friends to keep him busy. There are plenty of people who could learn the marksman skills that he has if given the right training. In theory, he’s easy to replace. Except he isn’t. Because who else would make those types of sacrifices for no other reason than the goodness of their heart? Even characters like Loki need entire character arcs to learn that there are things worth fighting for. Clint didn’t need one; he just knew.
Image via Marvel Studios.
No Amount Of Muscle Outweighs The Brain
Let’s think about some of the smartest heroes in the MCU. There is Tony Stark, Shuri, Bruce Banner, and even the underrated Rocket Raccoon. While the latter doesn’t count as a human hero, he is considered pretty weak by most Avengers standards. But he still proves his worth by knowing how to fly and pulling his weight in the engineering department.
With Bruce Banner, his intelligence as a human man is infinitely more valuable to the team than his strength as the Hulk. It is only by combining the two that we can see how much we were missing. His powers pre-combination are often discussed, and he’s almost considered a weapon rather than a hero. But his powers do more harm than good at times, and even he knows that he’s more of a liability than an asset.
And then we get to Shuri, who makes Bruce Banner look like my old science teacher (and not the good one.) I would trust her to protect me over almost all of the Avengers. Her natural abilities, curiosity, and confidence in her intelligence make her worth our love. This character does get some supernatural enhancements in the comic books, thanks to some Wakandan augmentations. Still, her MCU presence has felt mostly down-to-Earth, and we love to see it in this defense of those weakest Avenger moments that don’t seem to exist anymore.
We can’t deny the great improvements we have seen in giving less powerful heroes the respect and screentime they deserve in the MCU. And that’s because it’s clear that brains outweigh brawn on the big screen.
Image via Marvel Studios.
In Their Defense, I Need To Watch More Weakest Avenger Moments To Feel Power
Doesn’t some of the fun of superhero stories come from imagining ourselves as them? I will never have Wanda Maximoff’s abilities, no matter how cool I think it could be. But some power comes from knowing that if I woke up tomorrow with the right combination of tragic backstory and the desire to kick some ass, I could train hard enough and learn a fraction of the strength that Natasha Romanoff has. We all want to be our own heroes, and let’s face it. It’s easier to become a Tony Stark than a Vision.
Hawkeye and Black Widow are able to recover an infinity stone in Endgame faster than Captain America and Tony Stark. The arrow-shooting hero stood his ground in various battles, including against the Chitauri. And if our Black Widow spoiler review proved anything, it’s that Natasha has enough willpower to change the world. We need the intelligence and drive of our human heroes to defeat even the most mythical beings out there.
Our final statement in the defense against the weakest Avenger is that no such thing exists. We’re sure that even Captain America himself would remind you that everybody brings their own strengths and weaknesses to the table. Nobody is a worse character or hero because they were not thrust into greatness; they asked it to come to them. And for that, they’ll always have our respect.
Readers, who do you think is the most underrated hero that needs a defense against being considered the weakest Avenger? We want to hear your thoughts!
Featured image via Marvel Studios.
Meghan Hale is the kind of movie lover that has a "must watch" that is a mile long... and growing. When she isn't talking about the latest film and television news she is writing one of her many in-process novels, screaming film trivia at anybody who will listen, and working as a mental health care professional. Follow her on Twitter @meghanrhale for some fun theories and live reactions to all things entertainment.