The Avengers has such a rich 50-year history, that’s it’s easy to forget that the whole comic was really a knockoff to begin with. Marvel, facing competition from DC’s popular Justice League of America (complete with comic book juggernauts like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), decided to build a cross-comic superhero team of their own.
It featured a norse demigod, a guy who rode ants, a girl who shrunk into a wasp and a dude in a robotic suit. If you thought The Avengers movie looked absurd, know that issue #1 was way worse.
And so these incredibly detailed infographics by Jer Thorp do the knock-off series of superhero scraps almost too much justice, as they meticulously and elegantly plot the appearance of every one of the 132 Avengers through almost 50 years of issues, with each hero designated by a three-color shield borrowed from Captain America.
They also sort even more information, like representing which Avengers made the most common appearances (Captain America leads the pack, followed by Iron Man, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Hawkeye, Wasp, and Henry Pym). What did Vision do, you ask? He changed mass at will. Scarlet Witch? She gave people untimely bad luck. Henry Pym was Ant-Man. He was the shrinking “guy who rode ants*.” None of these abandoned character makes a fantastic visual… well, depending on your definition of fantastic.
So yes, maybe you consider The Avengers movie absurd. But if you actually considered just how absurd it could be (and you can, thanks to these brilliant infographics that put the entire cast of characters into an objective perspective)–we’re talking ant rodeos, people!–you’ll likely gain a new appreciation for why The Avengers film has Scarlett Johansson stand in the middle of a firefight with two tiny pistols for 20 minutes: Because one of the world’s most beautiful women fighting off aliens from another galaxy with karate chops and water guns alone is actually the most relatable, grounded moment in Avengers franchise history.
*Pardon my harshness, Ant-Man fans. I’ve just always been more of an Atom man myself–yet another character Marvel ripped off from DC back in the day.