Ant Man

Dr. Henry Jonathan "Hank" Pym is a fictional superhero character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by editor and plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber and penciler Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in Tales to Astonish #27 (Jan. 1962). Pym's character, a scientist that debuted in a standalone science-fiction anthology story, returned several issues later as the superhero Ant-Man, with the power to shrink to the size of an insect. Pym is eventually given a crime-fighting partner and later wife, Janet van Dyne (Wasp) and goes on to assume other superhero identities, including the size-changing Giant-Man and Goliath; the insect-themed Yellowjacket; and briefly the Wasp.

Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character of Henry Pym has featured in other Marvel-endorsed products such as animated films; arcade and video gamestelevision series and merchandise such asaction figures and trading cards. Pym is a founding member of the superhero team the AvengersMichael Douglas is scheduled to portray Pym in the upcoming 2015 Marvel Studios film, Ant-Man.

Hank Pym debuted in a seven-page solo cover story titled "The Man in the Ant Hill" (about a character who tests shrinking technology on himself) in the science fiction/fantasyanthology Tales to Astonish #27 (cover date Jan. 1962). The creative team was editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieberpenciler Jack Kirby, and inker Dick Ayers, with Lee stating in 2008: "I did one comic book called 'The Man in the Ant Hill' about a guy who shrunk down and there were ants or bees chasing him. That sold so well that I thought making him into a superhero might be fun".[1]

As a result, Pym was revived eight issues later as Ant-Man, a costumed superhero who starred in the 13-page, three-chapter story "Return of the Ant-Man/An Army of Ants/The Ant-Man’s Revenge" in Tales to Astonish #35 (Sept. 1962). The character's adventures became an ongoing feature in the title, with issue #44 (June 1963) featured the debut of Pym's socialite girlfriend and laboratory assistant, Janet van Dyne. Van Dyne adopted the identity of superheroine the Wasp and co-starred in Pym's subsequent appearances in the Tales to Astonish title. The Wasp also on occasion acted as a framing-sequence host for backup stories in the title. In September 1963, Lee and Kirby created the superhero title Avengers, and Ant-Man and the Wasp were established in issue #1 as founding members of the team.

Decades later, Lee theorized as to why "Ant-Man never became one of our top sellers or had his own book," saying,

I loved Ant-Man, but the stories were never really successful. In order for Ant-Man to be successful, he had to be drawn this small next to big things and you would be getting pictures that were visually interesting. The artists who drew him, no matter how much I kept reminding them, they kept forgetting that fact. They would draw him standing on a tabletop and they would draw a heroic-looking guy. I would say, 'Draw a matchbook cover next to him, so we see the difference in size.' But they kept forgetting. So when you would look at the panels, you thought you were looking at a normal guy wearing an underwear costume like all of them. It didn't have the interest.[2]

Pym began what would be a constant shifting of superhero identities in Tales to Astonish, becoming the 12 ft (3.7 m) tall Giant-Man in issue #49 (Nov. 1963). Pym and van Dyne continued to costar in the title until issue #69 (July 1965), while simultaneously appearing in The Avengers until issue #15 (April 1965), after which the couple temporarily left the team.

Pym rejoined the Avengers and adopted the new identity Goliath in Avengers #28 (May 1966). Gradually falling to mental strain, he adopted a fourth superhero identity, Yellowjacket, in issue #59 (Dec. 1968). Pym reappeared as Ant-Man in Avengers #93 (Nov. 1971) and for issues #4–10 starred in the lead story of the first volume of Marvel Feature (July 1972 – July 1973). After appearing occasionally as Yellowjacket in the 1980s and battling mental and emotional issues, Pym would temporarily abandon a costumed persona. Pym joined the West Coast Avengers as a scientist and inventor in West Coast Avengers vol. 2, #21 (June 1987). The character returned to the Avengers as the superhero Giant-Man in The Avengers vol. 3, #1 (Feb. 1998). When the team disbanded after a series of tragedies, Pym, using the Yellowjacket persona again, took a leave of absence beginning with vol. 3, #85 (Sept. 2004).[3]

Following the death of Van Dyne, whom he had married and divorced by this time, a grieving Pym took on yet another superhero identity as the new Wasp, in tribute to her, in the one-shot publication Secret Invasion: Requiem (Jan. 2009). Giant-Man appeared as a supporting character in Avengers Academy from issue #1 (Aug. 2010) through its final issue #39 (Jan. 2013). Pym returned as the Wasp in the mini-series Ant-Man & The Wasp (Jan. 2011).

Biochemist Henry Pym discovers an unusual set of subatomic particles he labels "Pym particles." Entrapping these within two separate serums, he creates a size-altering formula and a reversal formula, testing them on himself. Reduced to the size of an insect, he becomes trapped in an anthill before he eventually escapes and uses the reversal formula to restore himself to his normal size. Deciding the serums are too dangerous to exist, he destroys them.[4] Shortly afterward, he reconsiders his decision and recreates his serums. Pym's experience in the anthill inspires him to study ants, and he constructs a cybernetic helmet that allows him to communicate with and control them. Pym designs a costume made of unstable molecules to prevent bites or scratches from the ants, and reinvents himself as the superhero Ant-Man.[5] After several adventures, Pym is contacted by Dr. Vernon Van Dyne, who asks for aid in contacting alien life. Pym refuses, but is attracted to Vernon’s socialite daughter, Janet. Vernon Van Dyne is subsequently killed by an alien criminal who teleports himself to Earth, and Janet asks for Pym's help in avenging his death. Pym reveals his secret identity to Janet, and uses Pym particles to graft wasp wings beneath her shoulders, which appear when she shrinks. Janet assumes the alias of the Wasp, and together they find and defeat her father's killer.[6] The pair become founding members of the superhero team the Avengers.[7]

Pym eventually adopts his first alternate identity as the 12-foot-tall Giant-Man[8] He and the Wasp develop a romantic relationship.[9] In comics three decades later, a flashback reveals Pym adopted the identity of Giant-Man out of feelings of inadequacy when compared to powerful teammates Iron Man and Thor.[10] Shortly afterward, Pym and Van Dyne take a leave of absence from the Avengers.[11]

Pym eventually rejoins, adopting the new identity of Goliath.[12] A mishap traps the character in giant form for several issues, and affects his self-esteem.[13] After regaining control of his size-shifting ability, Pym creates a robot called Ultron that accidentally achieves sapience and becomes one of the Avengers's greatest foes.[14] During a botched experiment Pym inhales chemicals that induce schizophrenia, and suffering from a personality crisis, reappears at Avengers Mansion as the cocky Yellowjacket, claiming to have disposed of Pym. Only the Wasp realizes it is Pym and takes advantage of his offer of marriage. Pym eventually recovers from the chemicals during a battle with the Circus of Crime at the wedding.[15]

1970s

After several adventures with the Avengers, including another encounter with Ultron,[16] the pair take another leave of absence.[17] The heroes reencounter Pym at the beginning of theKree-Skrull War,[18] and once again as Ant-Man persona and has a series of solo adventures.[19]

After aiding fellow superhero team the Defenders[20][21] as Yellowjacket, Pym returns to the Avengers.[22] He is eventually captured by an upgraded Ultron, who brainwashes his creator, causing the character to regress to his original Ant-Man costume and personality — arriving at Avengers Mansion, thinking it to be the very first meeting of the team. Seeing several unfamiliar members, Pym attacks the team until stopped by the Wasp.[23] After Ultron's brainwashing is reversed, Pym rejoins the Avengers as Yellowjacket.[24] Pym is forced to briefly leave the team when the roster is restructured by government liaison Henry Peter Gyrich.[25]

1980s

Returning 14 issues later,[26] Pym participates in several missions until, after demonstrating hostile behavior toward Janet, he attacks a foe from behind once the opponent had ceased fighting. Captain America suspends Yellowjacket from Avengers duty pending the verdict of a court-martial. Pym suffers a mental breakdown and concocts a plan to salvage his credibility by building a robot, Salvation-1, and programming it to launch an attack on the Avengers that he will stop using the robot’s weakness at the critical moment, in hopes of regaining his good standing. The Wasp discovers the plan and begs Pym to stop, whereupon he strikes her. Jim Shooter, the writer of this story, says he intended only that Pym accidentally strike her while gesturing at her dismissively, and that artist Bob Hall misinterpreted.[27] Pym is subsequently expelled from the Avengers,[28] and Janet divorces him.[29]

Left penniless, Pym is manipulated by an old foe, the presumed-dead Egghead, who tricks Pym into stealing the national reserve of the metal adamantium. Pym is confronted by the Avengers (whom he had covertly summoned), and after being defeated is blamed for the theft, as Egghead erases all evidence of his involvement. Blaming an ostensibly dead villain is taken as further proof of Pym’s madness and he is incarcerated.[30] During Pym’s imprisonment, Janet has a brief relationship with Tony Stark.[31] Egghead later involves himself, and while attempting to kill Pym is himself accidentally killed by the Avenger Hawkeye, whose brother had been murdered by Egghead years ago. With the real perpetrator exposed, Pym is cleared of all charges. After bidding farewell to Janet and his teammates, Pym leaves to devote his full-time to research.[32]

Pym reappears in the West Coast Avengers, first in an advisory role,[33] and then as a full member in a non-costumed capacity.[34] He begins a short relationship with teammate Tigra,[35] and after a verbal taunting by old foeWhirlwind contemplates suicide, but is stopped by the heroine Firebird.[36] Pym and Janet eventually resume a romantic relationship.[37]

1990s

The character eventually returns to the Avengers, joining the East Coast team as Giant-Man.[38] The pair, together with many of the other Avengers, apparently sacrifice themselves to stop the villain Onslaught, but actually exist in a pocket universe for a year before returning to the mainstream Marvel Universe.[39]

Pym returns and aids the team as Giant-Man[40] and makes a significant contribution by defeating criminal mastermind Imus Champion[41] and his flawed creation Ultron, simultaneously overcoming his old issues of guilt over Ultron's crimes — revealed to be due to him having used his own brain patterns to create Ultron, and so believing that Ultron's attitude reflects his darker side.[42]

2000s

When Rick Jones becomes a key player in the Destiny War between Kang the Conqueror and Immortus, two versions of Pym are drawn in: Giant-Man of the present and Yellowjacket immediately prior to his marriage to Janet.[43] The two Pyms begin to deteriorate from being apart, but are restored when the Wasp helps the two halves realize they need each other.[44]Pym is eventually able to resolve his problems and adopts his Yellowjacket persona once again.[45]

After the events of the "Avengers Disassembled" storyline, Pym takes a leave of absence,[46] and in the one-shot title Avengers: Finale, the character and Janet leave for England to rekindle their relationship.[47] Pym and Janet's relationship fails and it is revealed in flashback during the Secret Invasion storyline that he has been replaced by an alien of the shapeshifting Skrull race.[48]

The impostor Pym as Yellowjacket is a central character in the Civil War storyline, joining those heroes that support the Superhuman Registration Act. Together with Mister Fantastic (of the Fantastic Four) and Tony Stark (Iron Man), the character creates a cybernetic clone of Thor to battle the anti-registration heroes, although the clone shows no morals and kills Bill Foster (who had taken up Pym's former identity as Goliath) in battle. Pym iskidnapped by Young Avengers member Hulkling, who uses his shapeshifter powers to impersonate Pym and free several captive anti-registration heroes. At the conclusion of the Civil War, the impostor Pym is named "Man of the Year" by Time magazine for his role.[49]

The Skrull impostor, whose name is eventually revealed to be Criti Noll, becomes one of the chief administrators at Camp Hammond, a U.S. military base in Stamford, Connecticut, for the training of registered superheroes in the government program, The Initiative.[50] The Skrull Pym ends the attempt at reconciliation with Janet, and begins a romantic relationship with Tigra. The Skrull Pym eventually is exposed and defeated by the heroCrusader.[51] Following a final battle between Earth's heroes and the Skrulls, the real Pym is found with other "replaced" heroes in a Skrull vessel. After the Wasp is seemingly killed in the final battle,[52] Pym takes on a new superhero persona, the Wasp, in tribute to her.[53] He rejoins the Avengers[54] and eventually leads the team.[55]

The cosmic entity Eternity reveals to Pym that he is Earth's "Scientist Supreme", the scientific counterpart to the Earth's Sorcerer Supreme.[56] The Norse trickster-god Loki later claims to have been posing as Eternity in order to manipulate Pym.[57]

2010s

Pym creates Avengers Academy, a program to help train young people with newly acquired superpowers.[58] Pym returns to his Giant-Man identity in Avengers Academy #7.[59] Pym later joins the team the Secret Avengers.[60]When a future version of Pym's sentient-robot Ultron conquers the world of the present in the "Age of Ultron" storyline, a time-travel plan involving Wolverine and Iron Man succeeds in having the past Pym make a change in his creation of Ultron, which destroys the robot with a computer virus.[61]

Pym and Monica Chang, A.I. Division Chief of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., assemble a new team called the Avengers A.I. in order to combat the threat of the A.I. Dimitrios, which was spawned by the virus Pym used to prevent the Age of Ultron. The team consists of Pym, Victor Mancha, the Vision, and a Doombot.[62] The team is later joined by Alexis,[volume & issue needed] who is eventually revealed to be one of six sentient A.I.s to be spawned from the Ultron virus along with Dimitrios.[volume & issue needed]

Months later, Pym, again using the Yellowjacket identity, is shown as a member of the Illuminati.[63] He is the one to discover that the Beyonders are responsible for the Universe Incursions that have been plaguing the Multiverse.[64]

After a past iteration of Ultron returns and conquers Titan, Pym is one of the Avengers who fights against him. An accident leads to Pym and Ultron accidentally merging together, creating a hybrid human/machine entity, the resulting creation accepting its new state due to Pym's self-loathing of his human weaknesses such as his emotional outbursts. The merged Ultron is defeated when Starfox forces him to love himself, and he flies off into space. A funeral service is held in Pym's honor, during which Janet reflects that Pym's ability to overcome his self-loathing and fears to be a hero prove that he was worthy of his role in the Avengers.[65]

Powers and abilities

Henry Pym is a scientific genius with a Ph.D in Biochemistry and nanotechnology, along with expertise in the fields of quantum physicsrobotics/cyberneticsartificial intelligence, and entomology. The character discovered the subatomic "Pym particles" that enable mass to be shunted or gained from an alternate dimension, thereby changing the size of himself or other beings or objects.[volume & issue needed] Pym is the creator of the robot Ultron.[volume & issue needed]

After constant experimentation with size-changing via ingested capsules and particle-filled gas, Pym is eventually able to change size at will,[volume & issue needed] and mentally generate Pym particles to change the sizes of other living beings or inanimate objects.[volume & issue needed] Pym retains his normal strength when "ant" size, and possesses greatly increased strength and stamina when in "giant" form, courtesy of the increased mass. Pym's costume is synthetic stretch fabric composed of unstable molecules and automatically adapts to his shifting sizes.

The character also uses a cybernetic helmet for achieving rudimentary communication with ants and other higher order insects. As Yellowjacket, Pym wears artificial wings and has bio-blasters called "stingers" built into his gloves. Pym also carries a variety of weaponry, provisions, and scientific instruments, which are shrunken to the size of microchips and stored in the pockets of his uniform.

After the death of his ex-wife Janet Van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp, Pym took on the Wasp identity in her honor.[54] He equipped himself with bio-synthetic wings and the ability to harness his body's bio-electrical energy as his "Wasp stings".[volume & issue needed]

Successors

There are a number of characters in the Marvel universe that have also used the "Pym particles" to effect size changing. These include the Wasp,[66] Clint Barton,[67] Bill Foster,[68] Scott Lang,[69] Erik Josten,[70] Rita DeMara,[71] Cassandra Lang,[72] Eric O'Grady,[73]and Tom Foster.[74]

Other versions

Marvel 1602

In the world of Marvel 1602, natural philosopher Henri le Pym is forced by Baron von Octavius to devise a serum that would cure him of a fatal disease. Pym is married to Janette.[75]

The Last Avengers Story

In an alternate future in the miniseries The Last Avengers Story #1-2 (Nov. 1995), Ultron wishes for a decisive victory over the Avengers. After eliminating the team, he has Hank Pym gather a new group. After recruiting other heroes and mercenaries, Pym leads them to victory though fatalities are heavy on both sides.[volume & issue needed]

Marvel Zombies

Pym is featured in several of the Marvel Zombies miniseries, appearing as one of the cannibalistic zombies in Marvel Zombies #1-5 (Feb.-June 2006), Marvel Zombies 2 #1-5 (Dec. 2007 - April 2008) and Marvel Zombies Return #4 (Oct. 2009).

MC2

The MC2 imprint title A-Next, set in a futuristic alternate universe, stars Henry and Jan Pym's children, Hope and Henry Pym Jr., who have become the supervillains Red Queen and Big Man respectively.[76]

Earth-5012

In this reality, Pym is an intelligent, Hulk-like brute.[77] He also appears in issue #13.

"Old Man Logan"

In the post-apocalyptic "Old Man Logan" storyline, Pym (as Giant-Man) is one of the numerous superheroes killed by the Red Skull's army of villains. Decades after his demise, a Connecticut settlement dubbed "Pym Falls" is built around his massive skeleton.[78] In addition, his Ant-Man helmet is shown in the possession of a young boy named Dwight, who uses it to command an army of ants in order to enforce the payment of tolls across a bridge.[79]

Ultimate Marvel

The Ultimate Marvel imprint title The Ultimates features a version of Hank Pym who is portrayed as a brilliant but mentally fragile scientist. He takes Prozac to battle his mental instability and depressive episodes. Pym gains his abilities after transfusing the blood of his wife Janet, who is a mutant. He is able to replicate this effect in order for SHIELD to produce multiple "giant men" agents. His abusive behavior ends their marriage and the character is expelled from the Ultimates, briefly joining pseudo heroes the Defenders in his Ant-Man persona. The character eventually rejoins the Ultimates in his Yellowjacket identity. During the events of "Ultimatum" storyline, Pym sacrifices himself to save the lives of the remaining Ultimates.[80] The Giant-Man formula is eventually acquired by HYDRA, which employ giant men and women agents.[81]

Marvel Adventures

Henry Pym appears in issue 13 of Marvel Adventures: The Avengers as a scientist working for Janet's father with no superhero identity, and was the one who gave Janet her superpowers. He is visited by Spider-Man and Storm when Janet (Giant-Girl in this continuity) falls under insect mind-control. He tells them how to free her (severing the antennae on her mask), gives her a new costume, and uses an insect telepathy helmet (identical to his Earth-616 Ant-Man helmet) to create an illusion of several giant-sized people, scaring the insects away.[volume & issue needed] He returns in issue 20, becoming Ant-Man. He not only joins the team but begins a relationship with Janet.

Marvel Apes

In the Marvel Apes universe, Henry Pym is a gorilla named Gro-Rilla who is a member of the Ape-Vengers.[volume & issue needed]

Scott Lang was an electronic engineer who was unable to support his family, and decided to turn to crime. He was caught and sentenced to 5 years in jail, but got out early for good behavior. Once freed he began to work at Stark International's design department.

When his daughter was diagnosed with a fatal heart condition, Lang sought help from Dr. Erica Sondheim, who was kidnapped by Cross Technological Enterprises founder Darren Cross, for help with his own heart condition. In order to rescue her, and save his daughter, Lang broke in to the home of Dr. Henry Pym, the first Ant-Man, and stole his technology. After a successful rescue, Lang tried to turn himself in, but Pym allowed him to keep the suit, but for the purpose of good.

Dividing his time between costumed heroics and his family responsibilities, Ant-Man worked alongside several super heroes, aiding members of the Avengers against the mercenary Taskmaster on two occasions. When Baron Zemo’s Masters of Evil attacked the Avengers and took control of the Avengers Mansion, Ant-Man offered his assistance to the Avengers in defeating the criminal super-team. The Fantastic Four subsequently hired him as an electronics expert when Mister Fantastic was believed to be dead, and he was inducted into the team.

Following Mister Fantastic’s return, Ant-Man joined the team known as Heroes for Hire and clashed with such enemies as Ghaur and the Master. After Heroes For Hire disbanded, he again aided the Avengers against the Taskmaster; he also began dating former super hero Jessica Jones, although their relationship ended after he learned she was pregnant with Luke Cage’s child. Ant-Man next fought alongside the Avengers against the menace of Scorpio and the In-Betweener, then was invited to join full-time, a role he only accepted after losing custody of his daughter to his ex-wife.

As an Avenger, Ant-Man had always butted heads with his teammate, Jack of Hearts, who later sacrificed his life in order to rescue Ant-Man's daughter. Ant-Man was killed when Jack of Heart's resurrected body blew up the Avenger's Mansion.

Marvel's The Avengers[4] (classified under the name Marvel Avengers Assemble in the United Kingdom and Ireland),[1][5] or simply The Avengers, is a 2012 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comicssuperhero team of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.1 It is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was written and directed byJoss Whedon and features an ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr.Chris EvansMark RuffaloChris HemsworthScarlett JohanssonJeremy RennerTom HiddlestonClark GreggCobie SmuldersStellan Skarsgård, and Samuel L. Jackson. In the film, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron ManCaptain America, the Hulk, and Thor to form a team that must stop Thor's brother Lokifrom subjugating Earth.

The film's development began when Marvel Studios received a loan from Merrill Lynch in April 2005. After the success of the film Iron Man in May 2008, Marvel announced that The Avengers would be released in July 2011. With the signing of Johansson in March 2009, the film was pushed back for a 2012 release. Whedon was brought on board in April 2010 and rewrote the original screenplay by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in August and New York City in September. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.

The Avengers premiered on April 11, 2012, at Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre and was released theatrically in the United States on May 4, 2012. The film garnered numerous critical awards and nominations, includingAcademy Award and BAFTA nominations for achievements in visual effects and has set or tied numerous box office records, including the biggest opening weekend in North America. The Avengers grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide, and became the third-highest-grossing film—as well as the first Marvel production to generate $1 billion in ticket sales. The film was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on September 25, 2012. A sequel, titled Avengers: Age of Ultron, was released on May 1, 2015, while two additional sequels, titled Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2, are scheduled to be released on May 4, 2018, and May 3, 2019, respectively.

Plot

The Asgardian Loki encounters the Other, the leader of an extraterrestrial race known as the Chitauri. In exchange for retrieving the Tesseract,2 a powerful energy source of unknown potential, the Other promises Loki an army with which he can subjugate Earth. Nick Fury, director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and his lieutenant Agent Maria Hill arrive at a remote research facility during an evacuation, where physicist Dr. Erik Selvig is leading a research team experimenting on the Tesseract. Agent Phil Coulson explains that the object has begun radiating an unusual form of energy. The Tesseract suddenly activates and opens a wormhole, allowing Loki to reach Earth. Loki takes the Tesseract and uses his scepter to enslave Selvig and several agents, including Clint Barton, to aid him in his getaway.

In response to the attack, Fury reactivates the "Avengers Initiative". Agent Natasha Romanoff is sent to Calcutta to recruit Dr. Bruce Banner to trace the Tesseract through its gamma radiation emissions. Coulson visitsTony Stark to have him review Selvig's research, and Fury approaches Steve Rogers with an assignment to retrieve the Tesseract.

In Stuttgart, Barton steals iridium needed to stabilize the Tesseract's power while Loki causes a distraction, leading to a confrontation with Rogers, Stark, and Romanoff that ends with Loki's surrender. While Loki is being escorted to S.H.I.E.L.D., Thor, his adoptive brother, arrives and frees him, hoping to convince him to abandon his plan and return to Asgard. After a confrontation with Stark and Rogers, Thor agrees to take Loki to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s flying aircraft carrier, the Helicarrier. There Loki is imprisoned while Banner and Stark attempt to locate the Tesseract.

The Avengers become divided, both over how to approach Loki and the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to harness the Tesseract to develop weapons as a deterrent against hostile extraterrestrials. As the group argues, Barton and Loki's other possessed agents attack the Helicarrier, disabling its engines in flight and causing Banner to transform into the Hulk. Stark and Rogers try to restart the damaged engine, and Thor attempts to stop the Hulk's rampage. Romanoff fights Barton, and knocks him unconscious, breaking Loki's mind control. Loki escapes after killing Coulson and ejecting Thor from the airship, while the Hulk falls to the ground after attacking a S.H.I.E.L.D. fighter jet. Fury uses Coulson's death to motivate the Avengers into working as a team. Stark and Rogers realize that for Loki, simply defeating them will not be enough; he needs to overpower them publicly to validate himself as ruler of Earth. Loki uses the Tesseract, in conjunction with a device Selvig built, to open a wormhole above Stark Tower to the Chitauri fleet in space, launching his invasion.

The Avengers rally in defense of New York City, the wormhole's location, but quickly realize they will be overwhelmed as wave after wave of Chitauri descend upon Earth. Banner arrives and transforms into the Hulk, and together he, Rogers, Stark, Thor, Barton, and Romanoff battle the Chitauri while evacuating civilians. The Hulk finds Loki and beats him into submission. Romanoff makes her way to the wormhole generator, where Selvig, freed of Loki's control, reveals that Loki's scepter can be used to shut down the generator. Meanwhile, Fury's superiors attempt to end the invasion by launching a nuclear missile at Midtown Manhattan. Stark intercepts the missile and takes it through the wormhole toward the Chitauri fleet. The missile detonates, destroying the Chitauri mothership and disabling their forces on Earth. Stark's suit runs out of power, and he falls back through the wormhole just as Romanoff closes it. Stark goes into freefall, but the Hulk saves him from crashing to the ground. In the aftermath, Thor returns Loki and the Tesseract to Asgard, while Fury expresses confidence that the Avengers will return if and when they are needed.

In a mid-credits scene, the Other confers with his master3 about the failed attack on Earth. In a post-credits scene, the Avengers eat in silence at a shawarma restaurant.

Cast

A self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist with an electromechanical suit of armor of his own invention. Downey was cast as part of his four-picture deal with Marvel Studios, which includes Iron Man 2and The Avengers.[6] Downey said that he initially pushed Whedon to make Stark the lead: "Well, I said, 'I need to be in the opening sequence. I don't know what you're thinking, but Tony needs to drive this thing.' He was like, 'Okay, let's try that.' We tried it and it didn't work, because this is a different sort of thing, the story and the idea and the theme is the theme, and everybody is just an arm of the octopus."[7] About the character's evolution from previous films, Downey said, "In Iron Man, which was an origin story, he was his own epiphany and redemption of sorts. Iron Man 2 is all about not being an island, dealing with legacy issues and making space for others. . . In The Avengers, he's throwing it down with the others".[8]
World War II veteran who was enhanced to the peak of human physicality by an experimental serum and frozen in suspended animation before waking up in the modern world. Evans was cast as part of a deal to star in three Marvel films, in addition to The Avengers.[9] Evans said that Steve Rogers is much darker in The Avengers: "It's just about him trying to come to terms with the modern world. You've got to imagine, it's enough of a shock to accept the fact that you're in a completely different time, but everybody you know is dead. Everybody you cared about. . . He was a soldier, obviously, everybody he went to battle with, all of his brothers in arms, they're all dead. He's just lonely. I think in the beginning it's a fish-out-of-water scene, and it's tough. It's a tough pill for him to swallow. Then comes trying to find a balance with the modern world."[7] Regarding the dynamic between Rogers and Tony Stark, Evans said, "I think there's certainly a dichotomy—this kind of friction between myself and Tony Stark, they're polar opposites. One guy is flash and spotlight and smooth, and the other guy is selfless and in the shadows and kind of quiet and they have to get along. They explore that, and it's pretty fun."[10]
A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated. Ruffalo, who was considered to play Banner in The Incredible Hulk before Edward Norton took the role,[11] was cast after negotiations between Marvel and Norton broke down.[12] About replacing Norton, Ruffalo said, "I'm a friend of Ed's, and yeah, that wasn't a great way for all that to go down. But the way I see it is that Ed has bequeathed this part to me. I look at it as my generation's Hamlet." About the character, he said, "He's a guy struggling with two sides of himself—the dark and the light—and everything he does in his life is filtered through issues of control. I grew up on the Bill Bixby TV series, which I thought was a really nuanced and real human way to look at the Hulk. I like that the part has those qualities".[13] In October 2014, Norton claimed he chose never to play Hulk again because he "wanted more diversity" with his career, and did not want to be associated with only one character.[14] Regarding the Hulk's place on the team, Ruffalo said, "He's like the teammate none of them are sure they want on their team. He's a loose cannon. It's like, 'Just throw a grenade in the middle of the group and let's hope it turns out well!"[15] This is the first production in which the actor playing Banner also plays the Hulk. Ruffalo told New York magazine, "I'm really excited. No one's ever played the Hulk exactly; they've always done CGI. They're going to do the Avatar stop-action, stop-motion capture. So I'll actually play the Hulk. That'll be fun".[16] The 3D model used to create the Hulk's body was modeled after Long Island bodybuilder and male stripper Steve Romm, while the Hulk's face was modeled after Ruffalo.[17] To create the Hulk's voice, Ruffalo's voice was blended with those of Lou Ferrigno and others;[18] however, the Hulk's only speaking line ("Puny god.") was provided solely by Ruffalo.[19]
The crown prince of Asgard, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name. Hemsworth was cast as part of a multiple movie deal.[20] He had previously worked with Joss Whedon on The Cabin in the Woods.[21] Hemsworth said that he was able to maintain the strength he built up for Thor by increasing his food intake, consisting of chicken breasts, fish, steak, and eggs every day. When asked exactly how much, Hemsworth said, "My body weight in protein pretty much!"[22] He remarked that Thor's motivation "is much more of a personal one, in the sense that it's his brother that is stirring things up. Whereas everyone else, it's some bad guy who they've gotta take down. It's a different approach for me, or for Thor. He's constantly having to battle the greater good and what he should do vs. it's his little brother there. . . I've been frustrated with my brothers at times, or family, but I'm the only one who is allowed to be angry at them. There's a bit of that."[7]
A highly trained spy working for S.H.I.E.L.D.[23] About the character and her relationship with Hawkeye, Johansson said, "Our characters have a long history. They've fought together for a long time in a lot of battles in many different countries. We're the two members of this avenging group who are skilled warriors – we have no superpowers. Black Widow is definitely one of the team, though. She's not in the cast simply to be a romantic foil or eye candy. She's there to fight, so I never felt like I was the only girl. We all have our various skills and it feels equal".[8] Regarding her training, Johansson said, "Even though Iron Man 2 was 'one-for-them,' I'd never done anything like that before. I'd never been physically driven in something, or a part of something so big. For The Avengers, I've spent so many months training with our stunt team, and fighting all the other actors, it's crazy. I do nothing but fight—all the time."[24]
A master archer working as an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D.[25][26] Renner said it was a very physical role and that he trained physically and practiced archery as much as possible in preparation.[27] About the role, Renner said, "When I saw Iron Man, I thought that was a really kick-ass approach to superheroes. Then they told me about this Hawkeye character, and I liked how he wasn't really a superhero; he's just a guy with a high skill set. I could connect to that."[8] Regarding Hawkeye's sniper mentality, Renner said, "It's a lonely game. He's an outcast. His only connection is to Scarlett's character, Natasha. It's like a left hand/right hand thing. They coexist, and you need them both, especially when it comes to a physical mission."[8] Renner said Hawkeye is not insecure about his humanity. "Quite the opposite, he's the only one who can really take down the Hulk with his [tranquilizer-tipped] arrows. He knows his limitations. But when it comes down to it, there has to be a sense of confidence in any superhero."[7]
Thor's adoptive brother and nemesis, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name.[20] About his character's evolution from the film Thor, Hiddleston said, "I think the Loki we see in The Avengers is further advanced. You have to ask yourself the question: How pleasant an experience is it disappearing into a wormhole that has been created by some kind of super nuclear explosion of his own making? So I think by the time Loki shows up in The Avengers, he's seen a few things."[28] About Loki's motivations, Hiddleston said, "At the beginning of The Avengers, he comes to Earth to subjugate it and his idea is to rule the human race as their king. And like all the delusional autocrats of human history, he thinks this is a great idea because if everyone is busy worshipping him, there will be no wars so he will create some kind of world peace by ruling them as a tyrant. But he is also kind of deluded in the fact that he thinks unlimited power will give him self-respect, so I haven't let go of the fact that he is still motivated by this terrible jealousy and kind of spiritual desolation".[29]
An agent with S.H.I.E.L.D. who oversees many of the division's field operations.[30] Gregg was cast as part of a multi-picture deal with Marvel.[31] Gregg said his role was expanded in The Avengers: "[What] Agent Coulson had become in terms of the import of this particular story, and how important his job is in bringing the Avengers together, it kind of felt a little surreal, like somebody was playing a prank and that wasn't the real script. But it wasn't, it was the real thing, I got to show up and do that stuff, and it felt like such an amazing payoff to what the journey had been and the fact I had been doing it for five years."[32] Gregg said Whedon provided insight into his character's backstory, particularly about Coulson being a fan of Captain America.[32]
A high-ranking agent with S.H.I.E.L.D. who works closely with Jackson's Nick Fury.[33] Smulders, whom Joss Whedon once considered for his unproduced live-action Wonder Woman film, was selected from a short list of potential actresses including Morena Baccarin. Smulders' deal would integrate her into nine films.[34][35] Regarding her preparation, Smulders said, "I hired this amazing black-ops trainer to teach me how to hold a gun, take me to a shooting range, how to hit, how to hold myself, how to walk and basically how to look. I don't do a ton of fighting in the movie, which is why I wasn't offered a trainer, but I wanted to look like I had the ability to."[36] On relating to the character, Smulders said, "I can relate to her being a mom and being a businesswoman and trying to work full-time and raising a family and having a career. We're asked to do a lot of things these days. I feel she is just all about her job and keeping things going."[37]
An astrophysicist and a friend of Thor under Loki's control, who is studying the Tesseract's power.[38][39] Regarding Loki's control over Selvig, Skarsgård said, "Well with the scene we did in Thor, it was like Loki, one way or the other, entered Erik's mind. And in Avengers, you will see more clarity in how Loki is using Erik's mind."[39] About his role, he said, "[My character] is of importance but the size of the role is not big."[39]
The director of S.H.I.E.L.D., who was revealed in previous films to be coordinating the "Avengers Initiative". Jackson was brought to the project with a deal containing an option to play the character in up to nine Marvel films.[40] Jackson said he does more in The Avengers than in any of the previous films: "You don't have to wait until the end of the movie to see me". About the role, Jackson said, "It's always good to play somebody [who] is a positive in society as opposed to somebody who is a negative. . . I tried to make him as honest to the story and as honest to what real-life would seem." Jackson compared the character to Ordell in Jackie Brown, calling him "a nice guy to hang out with. You just don't want to cross him".[41]

Gwyneth Paltrow and Maximiliano Hernández reprise their roles from previous films as Pepper Potts and Jasper Sitwell, respectively. Paul Bettany returns to voice J.A.R.V.I.S.. Frequent Whedon collaborator Alexis Denisof portrays the Other, and Damion Poitierportrays his master, Thanos (unnamed in the film), in a post-credit scene.[42] Powers Boothe and Jenny Agutter appear as members of the World Security Council. Avengers co-creator Stan Lee has a cameo appearance in a news report. Harry Dean Stantoncameos as a security guard, and Polish film director Jerzy Skolimowski appears as Georgi Luchkov, Romanoff's interrogator.[43]

Production

Development

Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Studios, first announced plans to develop the film in April 2005, after Marvel Enterprises declared independence by allying with Merrill Lynch to produce a slate of films that would be distributed by Paramount Pictures.[45] Marvel discussed their plans in a brief presentation to Wall Street analysts; the studio's intention was to release individual films for the main characters—to establish their identities and familiarize audiences with them—before merging the characters together in acrossover film.[46] Screenwriter Zak Penn, who wrote The Incredible Hulk (2008), was hired by Marvel Studios to write the film in June 2007.[47] In the wake of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Marvel negotiated with the Writers Guild of America to ensure that it could create films based on its comic book counterparts, including Captain America, Ant-Man and The Avengers.[48] After the successful release of Iron Man (2008) in May, the company set a July 2011 release date for The Avengers.[49] In September 2008, Marvel Studios reached an agreement with Paramount—an extension of a previous partnership—which gave the company distribution rights for five future Marvel films.[50]

Casting began in October 2008 with Downey's signing.[6] Though Don Cheadle was also reported to be reprising his Iron Man 2 role of War Machine for The Avengers, he later stated that he did not think the character would appear in the film.[6][51] At the same time, two major prospects occurred for Marvel: Jon Favreau was brought in as an executive producer for the film,[6] and the company signed a long-term lease with Raleigh Studios to produce three other big-budget films—Iron Man 2Thor (2011), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)—at their Manhattan Beach, California complex.[52] Lou Ferrigno, who voiced Hulk in The Incredible Hulk, stated that he would be involved in the film.[53] In February 2009, Samuel L. Jackson signed a nine-picture deal with Marvel Entertainment to play Nick Fury in Iron Man 2 and other films.[40] In September 2009, Edward Norton, who played Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk stated that he was open to returning in the film.[54] The next month, executive producer Jon Favreau stated that he would not direct the film, but would "definitely have input and a say". Favreau also expressed concerns, stating, "It's going to be hard, because I was so involved in creating the world of Iron Man, and Iron Man is very much a tech-based hero, and then with Avengersyou're going to be introducing some supernatural aspects because of Thor... [Mixing] the two of those works very well in the comic books, but it's going to take a lot of thoughtfulness to make that all work and not blow the reality that we've created".[55] In March 2009, actress Scarlett Johansson replaced Emily Blunt in portraying Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2, a deal that subsequently attached her to The Avengers.[23] The female superhero Wasp was included in an earlier draft of the script written before Johansson's involvement.[56] The following day, Marvel announced that the film's release date had been pushed back to May 4, 2012, almost a full year later.[57] Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston joined the film's cast in June, returning as Thor and Loki, respectively.[20]

In July 2009, Penn talked about the crossover process, stating, "My job is to kind of shuttle between the different movies and make sure that finally we're mimicking that comic book structure where all of these movies are connected. . . There's just a board that tracks 'Here's where everything that happens in this movie overlaps with that movie'. . . I'm pushing them to do as many animatics as possible to animate the movie, to draw boards so that we're all working off the same visual ideas. But the exigencies of production take first priority".[58]

In January 2010, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige was asked if it would be difficult to meld the fantasy of Thor with the high-tech science fiction in Iron Man and The Avengers. "No," he said, "because we're doing the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee/Walt Simonson/J. Michael Straczynski Thor. We're not doing the blow-the-dust-off-of-the-old-Norse-book-in-your-library Thor. And in the Thor of the Marvel Universe, there's a race called the Asgardians. And we're linked through this Tree of Life that we're unaware of. It's real science, but we don't know about it yet. The 'Thor' movie is about teaching people that".[59] In March, it was reported that Penn had completed the first draft of the script, and that Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada and Avengers comic-book writer Brian Michael Bendis had received copies.[60] Also in March, Chris Evans accepted an offer to play Captain America in three films including The Avengers.[9]

Pre-production

By April 2010, Joss Whedon was close to completing a deal to direct the film and to rework Penn's script,[61] and was officially announced in July 2010.[62] When Whedon received Penn's draft, he told Feige he felt the studio did not "have anything" and they should "pretend this draft never happened". Whedon went on to write a five page treatment of his plan for the film, and created the tagline "Avengers: Some Assembly Required", riffing on the "Avengers Assemble" slogan from the comic books. Marvel quickly began working to sign Whedon to write and direct, only stipulating that he include the Avengers against Loki, a battle among the heroes in the middle, a battle against the villains at the end, and he get the movie done for its May 2012 release.[63] On the hiring, Arad stated: "My personal opinion is that Joss will do a fantastic job. He loves these characters and is a fantastic writer... It's part of his life so you know he is going to protect it... I expect someone like him is going to make the script even better".[64] Feige added, "I've known Joss for many years. We were looking for the right thing and he came in and met on it... we want[ed] to find a director that’s on the verge of doing something great, as we think Joss is."[65] Whedon stated at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, that what drew him to the film is that he loves how "these people shouldn't be in the same room let alone on the same team—and that is the definition of family".[66]

The casting process continued into much of 2010, with the additions of Jeremy Renner,[25] Mark Ruffalo,[12] and Clark Gregg.[30] Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton, who Marvel declined to have back.[67] "We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers," stated Kevin Feige, Marvel's president of the production team. "Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Samuel, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks."[68] In response, Norton's agent Brian Swardstrom decried Feige's statement, calling it "purposefully misleading" and an "inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light".[69]

In August 2010, it was reported that Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios were planning to start shooting in February.[70] Simultaneously, it was declared that the film would be shot in 3D,[71] although Mark Ruffalo later tweeted that this was not the case.[72] In October 2010, Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York[73] and the Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, New York City, were announced as filming locations,[74] with set construction slated to begin in November,[73]but as Whedon later explained, "Originally we were supposed to be in Los Angeles, then for a short period we were supposed to be in New York, and then somehow we ended up in Albuquerque."[4] Also that October, The Walt Disney Studios agreed to pay Paramount at least $115 million for the worldwide distribution rights to Iron Man 3 and The Avengers.[75] The deal also allowed Paramount to continue to collect the 8 percent box office fee it would have earned for distributing the film and a marquee credit—placement of the company's production logo on marketing materials and the film's opening titles. As a result, the onscreen production credit reads "Marvel Studios presents in association with Paramount Pictures" though the film is solely owned, distributed, financed, and marketed by Disney. Paramount's Epix retained pay TV rights.[76]

In December 2010, Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson and Marvel Studios Co-president Louis D'Esposito announced The Avengers would film primarily in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with principal photography scheduled for April through September 2011. Parts of the film were also scheduled to be shot in Michigan,[77] but a plan to film in Detroit ended after Governor Rick Snyder issued a budget proposal that would eliminate a film tax incentive.[78] Three months later in March, Governor of Ohio John Kasich announced before Mayor Frank G. Jackson's State of the City address that The Avengers would film in Cleveland.[79]

Concept illustrator and designer of Iron Man's Mark VII armor Phil Saunders stated that "Joss Whedon was looking for something that had the 'cool' factor of the suitcase suit [from Iron Man 2], while still being a fully armored, heavy duty suit that could take on an army in the final battle." To that end, Saunders borrowed ideas that had been proposed in Iron Man 2 as well as some ideas that had been abandoned in Iron Man and merged them together in a modular suit that has big ammo packets on the arms and a backpack.[80] The Science & Entertainment Exchange also provided science consultation for the film.[81]

Casting reached its final stages the following year. In February 2011, Cobie Smulders acquired the role of Maria Hill,[35] after participating in screen tests conducted by Marvel for the role of a key S.H.I.E.L.D. member, who Samuel L. Jackson described as Nick Fury's sidekick.[34] Over the successive months, the film's cast expanded to include Stellan Skarsgård,[38] Paul Bettany,[82] and Gwyneth Paltrow.[83] Paltrow was cast at Downey's insistence; prior to this, Whedon had not intended the film to include supporting characters from the heroes' individual films, commenting, "You need to separate the characters from their support systems in order to create the isolation you need for a team."[84]

Filming

Principal photography began on April 25, 2011, in AlbuquerqueNew Mexico.[85] In June 2011, stuntman Jeremy Fitzgerald injured his head while attempting a stunt involving a 30-foot fall from a building after getting hit by an arrow. A Marvel spokesperson later told TMZ.com that despite the injury, Fitzgerald recovered and continued working on set.[86] The following month, secondary filming took place about an hour outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the Butler area.[87] A chase sequence was also shot in Worthington, Pennsylvania at Creekside Mushroom Farms, the world's largest single-site mushroom farm, which provided 150 miles of abandoned limestone tunnels 300 feet below the ground for filming.[88]

Production relocated to Cleveland, Ohio in August 2011, where filming transpired over a period of four weeks. The city's East 9th Street was chosen as a double for New York City's 42nd Street to be used in climactic battle scenes.[89] Army Reserve soldiers assigned to the Columbus, Ohio-based 391st Military Police Battalion provided background action during the battle scenes in Cleveland. Staff Sergeant Michael T. Landis stated the use of real soldiers made the scenes more realistic and helped portray the military in a more positive light, explaining that, "It's easy for us to make on-the-spot corrections to tactics and uniforms, the director actually took our recommendation on one scene and let us all engage the enemy as opposed to only the gunners in the trucks engaging".[90] Filming also took place in the large vacuum chamber at the NASA Plum Brook Station near Sandusky, Ohio.[91] The station's Space Power Facility was used to portray a S.H.I.E.L.D. research facility.[92] A series of explosions were filmed at the Chevrolet powertrain plant in Parma, Ohio as part of the battle sequence that began in Cleveland.[93] Scenes from the film were also shot on Public Square and the Detroit–Superior Bridge.[94] Public Square's southwest quadrant was turned into Stuttgart, Germany, for filming.[95]

Principal photography concluded in New York City, where filming occurred over two days.[96] Filming locations in New York City included Park Avenue and Central Park.[97][98] For scenes taking place in Manhattan, visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison shot aerial footage for over three days to use as background plates, elaborating that his main objective was to "get as much aerial work in as possible for the audience to see the big expanses, the wide establishing shots, while also making sure that the effects work doesn't look too computer generated".[99] "We're getting much better at making entirely computer-generated environments," Morrison explained, "but there is no substitute for starting with a real image and adding what you need."[99]

Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey stated that he composed the frame with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio to cope with the varying heights of the main characters, explaining that "shooting 1.85:1 is kind of unusual for an epic film like this, but we needed the height in the screen to be able to frame in all the characters like Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow, who is much smaller. We had to give them all precedence and width within the frame. Also, Joss [Whedon] knew the final battle sequence was going to be this extravaganza in Manhattan, so the height and vertical scale of the buildings was going to be really important."[100] The film was McGarvey's first venture shooting with a digital camera, the Arri Alexa.[100] The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EOS 7D digital SLR cameras were used for some shots,[101][102] and high-speed shots were captured on 35 mm film with the Arriflex 435.[100] About his visual approach, McGarvey remarked, "Joss and I were keen on having a very visceral and naturalistic quality to the image. We wanted this to feel immersive and did not want a 'comic book look' that might distance an audience with the engagement of the film. We moved the camera a lot on Steadicam, cranes and on dollies to create kinetic images; and we chose angles that were dramatic, like low angles for heroic imagery."[100]

Post-production

In December 2011, Disney announced that the film would be converted to 3D.[103] Said Whedon, "I'm not a big fan of extreme long lens, talky movies – I like to see the space I'm in and relate to it, so 3D kinda fits my aesthetic anyway. And the technology has advanced so far in the past couple years." Whedon also said that "there definitely are movies that shouldn't be in 3D" but "The Avengers isn't obnoxiously 3D. There's no, 'Oh look, we're going to spend 20 minutes going through this tunnel because it's in 3D!' And no one is pointing at the screen the entire time. But it's an action movie. Things tend to hurtle toward the screen anyway".[104] In January 2012, it was reported that the film would be digitally remastered for IMAX 3D and open in IMAX theaters on May 4, 2012, the same day it opens in regular theaters. The film's IMAX release follows Marvel's IMAX releases of Iron Man 2 and Thor.[105]

In a May 2012 interview, Whedon said that it was his decision to include Thanos in a post-credits scene, although the character is not identified in the film. "He for me is the most powerful and fascinating Marvel villain. He's the great grand daddy of the badasses and he's in love with Death and I just think that's so cute. For me, the greatest Avengers [comic book] was Avengers Annual #7 (1977) that Jim Starlin did followed by Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (1977) that contained the death of Adam Warlock. Those were some of the most important texts and I think underrated milestones in Marvel history and Thanos is all over that, so somebody had to be in control and had to be behind Loki's work and I was like 'It's got to be Thanos.' And they said 'Okay' and I'm like 'Oh my God!'"[106] An additional coda involving the Avengers eating shawarma was shot on April 12, 2012, a day after the world premiere.[107] Shawarma sales in Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Boston reportedly skyrocketed in the days following the film's release

The film contains more than 2,200 visual effects shots completed by 14 companies: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Weta DigitalScanline VFXHydraulx, Fuel VFX, Evil Eye Pictures, Luma Pictures, Cantina Creative, Trixter,Modus FX, Whiskytree, Digital Domain, The Third Floor and Method Design. ILM was the lead vendor and shared responsibility for creating many of the film's key effects, including the Helicarrier, the New York cityscape, digital body doubles, Iron Man and the Hulk. To create the on-screen Hulk, Ruffalo performed in a motion-capture suit on set with the other actors while four motion-capture HD cameras (two full body, two focused on his face) captured his face and body movements.[112] Jeff White, ILM's visual effects supervisor, said, "We really wanted to utilize everything we've developed the last 10 years and make it a pretty spectacular Hulk. One of the great design decisions was to incorporate Mark Ruffalo into the look of him. So, much of Hulk is based on Ruffalo and his performance, not only in motion capture and on set, but down to his eyes, his teeth, and his tongue."[113]

ILM digitally recreated the vast majority of the New York cityscape used in the film. In total, ILM artists rendered an area of about ten city blocks by about four city blocks. To do this, ILM sent out a team of four photographers to take pictures of the area in a shoot that lasted 8 weeks.[112] Disney and Sony Pictures agreed for OsCorp Tower from The Amazing Spider-Man to be included in the film, but the idea was dropped because much of the skyline had already been completed.[114]

Weta Digital took over duties for animating Iron Man during the forest duel from ILM. Guy Williams, Weta's visual effects supervisor, said, "We shared assets back and forth with ILM, but our pipelines are unique and it's hard for other assets to plug into it. But in this case, we got their models and we had to redo the texture spaces because the way we texture maps is different."[113] Williams said the most difficult part was re-creating Iron Man's reflective metal surfaces.[112]

Scanline VFX completed the reveal shots of the Helicarrier, from the moment Black Widow and Captain America arrive on the carrier deck to the point where it lifts off.[112] Evil Eye Pictures composited digital backgrounds into shots filmed against a greenscreen for scenes taking place inside the Helicarrier.[112] Colin Strause of Hydraulx said, "We did the opening ten minutes of the movie, other than the opening set-up in space" including Loki's arrival on Earth and subsequent escape from the S.H.I.E.L.D. base.[112] Luma Pictures worked on shots featuring the Helicarrier's bridge and incorporated the graphic monitor displays that were developed by Cantina Creative.[112] Fuel VFX completed shots taking place in and around Tony Stark's penthouse at Stark Tower.[112] Digital Domain created the asteroid environment, where Loki encounters The Other.[112] Method Design in Los Angeles created the film's closing credits. Steve Viola, creative director at Method Design, said, "This piece was a two-minute, self-contained main on end sequence created entirely in CG. For each of the shots in the sequence, we designed, modeled, textured, and lit all of the environments and many of the foreground objects. We received assets from Marvel to include in the piece, then heavily re-modeled and re-surfaced them to create a post-battle macro sequence. We also designed a custom typeface for the Main Title of The Avengers as well as 30 credits set in-scene."[113]

Music

In November 2011, Marvel announced that Alan Silvestri, who scored Captain America: The First Avenger, would write and compose the score for The Avengers. Silvestri said, "I've worked on films where there have been a number of stars and certainly worked on films where there have been characters of equal weight in terms of their level of importance and profile in the film, but this one is somewhat extreme in that regard because each of these characters has their own world and it's a very different situation. It's very challenging to look for a way to give everyone the weight and consideration they need, but at the same time the film is really about the coming together of these characters, which implies that there is this entity called the Avengers which really has to be representative of all of them together."[115] Silvestri developed the score with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London, England.[116] Whedon said, "The score is very old-fashioned, which is why [Silvestri] was letter-perfect for this movie because he can give you the heightened emotion, the [Hans Zimmer] school of 'I'm just feeling a lot right now!' but he can also be extraordinarily cue and character specific, which I love."[116]

In March 2012, American alternative rock band Soundgarden announced through its Facebook page that its song "Live to Rise" would be included on the film's soundtrack.[117] Additionally, the Indian rock band Agnee released a music video for its single "Hello Andheron", which serves as the theme song for the film's Indian release.[118] Hollywood Records released the soundtrack concept album inspired by the film, Avengers Assemble, on May 1, 2012, the same day as the score.[119]

Release

In February 2012, Disney announced that the film's title would be changed in the United Kingdom to avoid confusion with the British TV series of the same name, as well as its 1998 film adaptation. This led to confusion over the film's actual title. Empire magazine reported that the film would be titled Marvel Avengers Assemble[120] while The Hollywood Reporter said that it would be called simply Avengers Assemble.[121] Marvel's UK website refers to the film as Marvel's Avengers Assemble,[122] although David Cox of The Guardian, in arguing that it was one of the worst film titles ever, considered this to be an error in the production notes, albeit grammatically clearer.[123]According to the British Board of Film Classification and the Irish Film Classification Office, the title is Marvel Avengers Assemble.[1][5] Frank Lovece in FilmFestivalTraveler.com addressed the discrepancy, writing, "The Avengers — formally titled Marvel's The Avengers onscreen, though no apostrophe-s appears on the posters..."[4] Producer Kevin Feige said there are only two words in the UK title, one more than in the U.S. title, and stated that "decisions like that aren't made lightly and there are lots of marketing research, lawyers and things that get into the mix on it".[124]

The film's world premiere was April 11, 2012, at Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre.[125] The Avengers closed the 11th Annual Tribeca Film Festival with a screening on April 28, 2012.[126] The film received an expanded one-week theatrical push for the 2012 U.S. Labor Day weekend, increasing the number of theaters from 123 to 1,700.[127]

Marketing

The film was promoted at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International, during which a teaser trailer narrated by Samuel L. Jackson was shown followed by an introduction of the cast.[30] In June 2011, Marvel Studios announced that it would not hold a panel at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International after studio executives decided it was not prepared to compete with its own past and fan expectations with filming still in production.[128] In July 2011, a teaser trailer that was meant to be the post-credits scene of Captain America: The First Avenger was briefly leaked online. Entertainment Weekly speculated it came from a preview screening and described the footage as "shaky, fuzzy, flickering and obviously filmed on a cell phone"

In August 2011, Walt Disney PicturesPixar Animation Studios and Marvel Studios presented a look at Walt Disney Studios' upcoming film slate, which included The Avengers, at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. The presentation featured footage from the film and appearances by the cast members.[130] Later in August, Disney dismissed Marvel's executive vice president of worldwide marketing, vice president of worldwide marketing and manager of worldwide marketing to bring their functions in-house.[131]

In October 2011, Marvel Studios held a presentation at the New York Comic Con that featured new footage and a panel discussion including producer Kevin Feige and several cast members.[132] The first full-length trailer was also released in October. Comic Book Resources said, "The two-minute teaser handily establishes the movie's premise" and is "heavy on the assembling, but fans are also treated to plenty of action, as well glimpses [sic] of Iron Man's new armor and, best of all, the new take on the Incredible Hulk. Naturally, Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark gets the best lines".[133] However, The Hollywood Reporter called it, "Awesome. Or it would be if we hadn't seen all of this before and expected every single thing that we saw in the trailer".[134] The trailer, which debuted exclusively on iTunes Movie Trailers, was downloaded over 10 million times in its first 24 hours, breaking the website's record for the most-viewed trailer.[135] This record was surpassed by the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, which was downloaded more than 12.5 million times in its first 24 hours.[136] The trailer received 20.4 million views in the 24 hours after it debuted.[137] A second full-length trailer was released on iTunes in February 2012, reaching a record 13.7 million downloads in 24 hours.[138] The theatrical trailers of The Avengers appeared with many films, including Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol21 Jump Street and The Hunger Games.[139]

In January 2012, Marvel Studios held a global Twitter chat. The 30-minute live tweeting event featured writer/director Joss Whedon, cast members Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and Clark Gregg and a 10-second tease of the 30-second Super Bowl commercial that would air during Super Bowl XLVI in February.[140] According to the Los Angeles Times, Disney paid an estimated $4 million for the 30-second spot.[141] On May 1, 2012, executives from Marvel Studios, along with actors Tom Hiddleston and Clark Gregg, rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange in honor of the film's theatrical release.[142]

Tie-in comics

Further information: Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-in comics

In December 2011, Marvel announced that an eight-issue comic-book prelude to the film, written by Christopher Yost and Eric Pearson with art by Luke Ross and Daniel HDR, would be released in March 2012.[143] In February 2012, Marvel announced the release of a second limited series comic book tie-in, Black Widow Strikes written by Fred Van Lente, who wrote Captain America: First Vengeance, the comic-book prequel to Captain America: The First Avenger. The story is set between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers and follows Black Widow as she runs down some loose ends from Iron Man 2.[144] Additionally, the title Avengers Assemble was launched in March 2012, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Mark Bagley and features the same Avengers line-up as the film battling a new incarnation of the supervillain team Zodiac.[145]

Promotional partners

Paul Gitter, Marvel Entertainment's president of consumer products, commented that the build-up to the film helped strengthen retail partnerships: "Retailers have been less tolerant with [intellectual property] films, so we decided that if we started on this coordinated strategy several years ago, retailers would give us shelf space throughout the years and we would have a more sustainable position in the marketplace".[146]

In September 2011, set photos of Robert Downey Jr. driving a new model Acura were published online. An Acura spokesperson later released a statement confirming the company's involvement with the film, "As you may know, Acura has been in the Marvel Comics Universe films as the official car of their fictional law enforcement agency called S.H.I.E.L.D. That relationship continues for The Avengers. The open-top sports car that was photographed yesterday is a one-off, fictional car that was made just for the movie and will not be produced. That said, as you may also know, our CEO has said publicly that we are studying the development of a new sportscar, but we can't say any more about it at this time."[147] In December 2011, Acura announced that a new NSX styled along the lines of the concept built for The Avengers would be unveiled at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.[148] A series of 10 S.H.I.E.L.D. SUVs, based on the Acura MDX with modifications by Cinema Vehicle Services, were also made for the film.[149]

In February 2012, it was announced that Marvel has partnered with fragrance company JADS to promote The Avengers with character-based fragrances. The announcement was just ahead of the Toy Industry Association's annual February exhibition, where representatives held a sampling booth of the products.[150] Other promotional partners include bracelet-maker Colantotte, Dr PepperFarmers InsuranceHarley-DavidsonHershey, Land O'Frost lunchmeatsOracleRed Baron pizzaSymantecVisa and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. In total, Marvel and its parent-company Disney secured an estimated $100 million in worldwide marketing support for the film. Notable exclusions include Baskin-RobbinsBurger King and Dunkin' Donuts, who had partnered with Marvel in the past when their films were distributed by Paramount. Disney does not generally promote through fast food outlets.[151]

Video game

A video game based on the film was planned for concurrent release. The game was to be a first-person shooter/brawler for the Xbox 360PlayStation 3Wii U, and Microsoft Windows and published by THQ, with THQ Studio Australia developing the console versions and Blue Tongue Entertainment the PC version. After THQ closed both studios, the game was cancelled.[152] Intellectual property rights for an Avengers video game reverted to Marvel, which said it was exploring potential publishing and licensing opportunities.[153]

In May 2012, Ubisoft and Marvel Entertainment announced that they were partnering to develop a motion-controlled game titled Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth for the Wii U and Xbox 360 Kinect. The game was inspired by the "Secret Invasion" storyline and features 20 different characters.[154] Marvel also announced a four-chapter mobile game titled Avengers Initiative, with one chapter focusing on each of Hulk, Captain America, Thor and Iron Man.[155]

Home media

The film was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment[156][157] on Blu-ray DiscBlu-ray 3DDVD and digital download on September 25, 2012 in the United States and as early as August 29, 2012 in various international markets.[158][159] Producer Kevin Feige said the Blu-ray features a new Marvel One-Shot titled Item 47 and "a number of deleted scenes and a few storylines that fell by the wayside during the editing process" including "a few more scenes with the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill, played by Cobie Smulders" and "some slightly different versions of Maria Hill and Nick Fury's interaction with the World Security Council".[160]

The film was also released in a ten-disc box set titled Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One – Avengers Assembled that includes all of the "Phase One" films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[161] However, in September 2012, the set's release, which was scheduled on the same day as the Blu-ray, was delayed until April 2, 2013, due to a pending lawsuit over the suitcase used to package the collection.[162][163]

Some fans have criticized the UK DVD and Blu-ray release for omitting Joss Whedon's audio commentary, and for altering the scene involving Phil Coulson's death from the film's theatrical version.[164] Disney's UK division said the "less graphic depiction of Agent Coulson's confrontation with Loki" occurred because "[e]ach country has its own compliance issues relative to depictions of violence. Unfortunately, another region's elements were inadvertently used to create the UK in-home release".[164]

Upon its first week of release on home media in the U.S., the film topped the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks overall disc sales, as well as the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart with 72% of unit sales coming from Blu-ray, a record for a new release in which both the DVD and Blu-ray formats were released simultaneously.

Iron Man (Tony Stark) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, as well as its associated media. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (cover dated March 1963).

An American billionaire playboyindustrialist, and ingenious engineer, Tony Stark suffers a severe chest injury during a kidnapping in which his captors attempt to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction. He instead creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape captivity. Later, Stark augments his suit with weapons and other technological devices he designed through his company, Stark Industries. He uses the suit and successive versions to protect the world as Iron Man, while at first concealing his true identity. Initially, Iron Man was a vehicle for Stan Lee to explore Cold War themes, particularly the role of American technology and business in the fight against communism.[1] Subsequent re-imaginings of Iron Man have transitioned from Cold War themes to contemporary concerns, such as corporate crime and terrorism.[1]

Throughout most of the character's publication history, Iron Man has been a founding member of the superhero team the Avengers and has been featured in several incarnations of his own various comic book series. Iron Man has been adapted for several animated TV shows and films. The character is portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. in the live action film Iron Man (2008), which was a critical and box office success. Downey, who received much acclaim for his performance, reprised the role in a cameo in The Incredible Hulk (2008), two Iron Man sequels (2010, 2013), The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and will do so again in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and both parts of Avengers: Infinity War (2018/2019).

Iron Man was ranked 12th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes in 2011.[2]

Iron Man's Marvel Comics premiere in Tales of Suspense #39 was a collaboration among editor and story-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, story-artist Don Heck, and cover-artist and character-designer Jack Kirby.[3] In 1963, Lee had been toying with the idea of a businessman superhero.[4] He wanted to create the "quintessential capitalist", a character that would go against the spirit of the times and Marvel's readership.[5]Lee said,

I think I gave myself a dare. It was the height of the Cold War. The readers, the young readers, if there was one thing they hated, it was war, it was the military....So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer, he was providing weapons for the Army, he was rich, he was an industrialist....I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him....And he became very popular.[6]

He set out to make the new character a wealthy, glamorous ladies' man, but one with a secret that would plague and torment him as well.[7] Writer Gerry Conway said, "Here you have this character, who on the outside is invulnerable, I mean, just can't be touched, but inside is a wounded figure. Stan made it very much an in-your-face wound, you know, his heart was broken, you know, literally broken. But there's a metaphor going on there. And that's, I think, what made that character interesting."[6] Lee based this playboy's looks and personality on Howard Hughes,[8] explaining, "Howard Hughes was one of the most colorful men of our time. He was an inventor, an adventurer, a multi-billionaire, a ladies' man and finally a nutcase."[9] "Without being crazy, he was Howard Hughes," Lee said.[6]

While Lee intended to write the story himself,[7] a minor deadline emergency eventually forced him to hand over the premiere issue to Lieber, who fleshed out the story.[7] The art was split between Kirby and Heck. "He designed the costume," Heck said of Kirby, "because he was doing the cover. The covers were always done first. But I created the look of the characters, like Tony Stark and his secretary Pepper Potts."[10] In a 1990 interview, when asked if he had "a specific model for Tony Stark and the other characters?", Heck replied "No, I would be thinking more along the lines of some characters I like, which would be the same kind of characters that Alex Toth liked, which was an Errol Flynn type."[11] Iron Man first appeared in 13- to 18-page stories in Tales of Suspense, which featured anthology science fiction and supernatural stories. The character's original costume was a bulky gray armored suit, replaced by a golden version in the second story (issue #40, April 1963). It was redesigned as sleeker, red-and-golden armor in issue #48 (Dec. 1963) by that issue's interior artist, Steve Ditko, although Kirby drew it on the cover. As Heck recalled in 1985, "[T]he second costume, the red and yellow one, was designed by Steve Ditko. I found it easier than drawing that bulky old thing. The earlier design, the robot-looking one, was more Kirbyish."[12]

In his premiere, Iron Man was an anti-communist hero, defeating various Vietnamese agents. Lee later regretted this early focus.[4][13] Throughout the character’s comic book series, technological advancement andnational defense were constant themes for Iron Man, but later issues developed Stark into a more complex and vulnerable character as they depicted his battle with alcoholism (as in the "Demon in a Bottle" storyline) and other personal difficulties.

From issue #59 (Nov. 1964) to its final issue #99 (March 1968), the anthological science-fiction backup stories in Tales of Suspense were replaced by a feature starring the superhero Captain America. Lee and Heck introduced several adversaries for the character including the Mandarin in issue #50 (Feb. 1964),[14] the Black Widow in #52 (April 1964)[15] and Hawkeye five issues later.[16]

Lee said that "of all the comic books we published at Marvel, we got more fan mail for Iron Man from women, from females, than any other title....We didn't get much fan mail from girls, but whenever we did, the letter was usually addressed to Iron Man."[6]

Lee and Kirby included Iron Man in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963) as a founding member of the superhero team. The character has since appeared in every subsequent volume of the series.

Writers have updated the war and locale in which Stark is injured. In the original 1963 story, it was the Vietnam War. In the 1990s, it was updated to be the first Gulf War,[17] and later updated again to be the war inAfghanistan. Stark's time with the Asian Nobel Prize-winning scientist Ho Yinsen is consistent through nearly all incarnations of the Iron Man origin, depicting Stark and Yinsen building the original armor together. One exception is the direct-to-DVD animated feature film The Invincible Iron Man, in which the armor Stark uses to escape his captors is not the first Iron Man suit.

Themes

The original Iron Man title explored Cold War themes, as did other Stan Lee projects in the early years of Marvel Comics. Where The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk respectively focused on American domestic and government responses to the Communist threat, Iron Man explored industry's role in the struggle. Tony Stark's real-life model, Howard Hughes, was a significant defense contractor who developed new weapons technologies. Hughes was an icon both of American individualism and of the burdens of fame.[18]

Historian Robert Genter, in The Journal of Popular Culture, writes that Tony Stark specifically presents an idealized portrait of the American inventor. Where earlier decades had seen important technological innovations come from famous individuals like Nikola TeslaThomas EdisonAlexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers, the 1960s saw new technology, including weapons, being developed mainly by corporate research teams. Little room remained in this environment for the inventor who wanted credit for, and control of, his or her own creations.

Issues of entrepreneurial autonomy, government supervision of research, and ultimate loyalty figured prominently in early Iron Man stories—and all were issues then affecting American scientists and engineers.[18]Tony Stark, writes Genter, is an inventor who finds motive in his emasculation as an autonomous creative individual. This blow is symbolized by his chest wound, inflicted at the moment he is forced to invent things for the purposes of others. Stark's transformation into Iron Man represents his effort to reclaim his autonomy, and thus his manhood. The character's pursuit of women in bed or in battle, writes Genter, represents another aspect of this effort. The pattern finds parallels in other works of 1960s popular fiction by authors such as "Ian FlemingMickey Spillane, and Norman Mailer who made unregulated sexuality a form of authenticity."[18

First series

After issue #99 (March 1968), the Tales of Suspense series was renamed Captain America. An Iron Man story appeared in the one-shot comic Iron Man and Sub-Mariner (April 1968), before the "Golden Avenger"[19]made his solo debut with The Invincible Iron Man #1 (May 1968).[20] The series' indicia gives its copyright title Iron Man, while the trademarked cover logo of most issues is The Invincible Iron Man. Artist George Tuskabegan a decade long association with the character with Iron Man #5 (Sept. 1968).[21] Writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jim Starlin's brief collaboration on the Iron Man series introduced MentorStarfox, and Thanos in issue #55 (Feb. 1973).[22] Friedrich scripted a metafictional story in which Iron Man visited the San Diego Comic Convention and met several Marvel Comics writers and artists.[23] He then wrote the multi-issue "War of the Super-Villains" storyline which ran through 1975.[24][25][26][27][28]

Writer David Michelinie,[29] co-plotter/inker Bob Layton, and penciler John Romita, Jr. became the creative team on the series with Iron Man #116 (Nov. 1978). Micheline and Layton established Tony Stark's alcoholism with the story "Demon in a Bottle", and introduced several supporting characters, including Stark's bodyguard girlfriend Bethany Cabe;[30] Stark's personal pilot and confidant James Rhodes, who later became the superhero War Machine;[31] and rival industrialist Justin Hammer,[32] who was revealed to be the employer of numerous high-tech armed enemies Iron Man fought over the years. The duo also introduced the concept of Stark's specialized armors[33][34][35] as he acquired a dangerous vendetta with Doctor Doom.[36][37] The team worked together through #154 (Jan. 1982), with Michelinie writing three issues without Layton.[29]

Following Michelinie and Layton's departures, Dennis O'Neil became the new writer of the series and had Stark relapse into alcoholism. Much of O'Neil's work on this plot thread was based on experiences with alcoholics he knew personally.[38] Jim Rhodes replaced Stark as Iron Man in issue #169 (April 1983) and wore the armor for the next two years of stories.[39] O'Neil returned Tony Stark to the Iron Man role in issue #200 (Nov. 1985).[40] Michelinie and Layton became the creative team once again in issue #215 (Feb. 1987).[29] They crafted the "Armor Wars" storyline beginning in #225 (Dec. 1987)[41] through #231 (June 1988). John Byrne and John Romita, Jr. produced a sequel titled "Armor Wars II" in issues #258 (July 1990) to #266 (March 1991). The series had a crossover with the other Avengers related titles as part of the "Operation: Galactic Storm" storyline.[42][43]

Later volumes

This initial series ended with issue #332 (Sept. 1996). Jim LeeScott Lobdell, and Jeph Loeb authored a second volume of the series which was drawn primarily by Whilce Portacio and Ryan Benjamin. This volume took place in a parallel universe[44] and ran 13 issues (Nov. 1996 - Nov. 1997).[45] Volume 3, whose first 25 issues were written by Kurt Busiek[46] and then by Busiek and Roger Stern, ran 89 issues (Feb. 1998 - Dec. 2004). Later writers included Joe QuesadaFrank TieriMike Grell, and John Jackson Miller. Issue #41 (June 2001) was additionally numbered #386, reflecting the start of dual numbering starting from the premiere issue of volume one in 1968. The final issue was dual-numbered as #434.[47] The next Iron Man series, The Invincible Iron Man vol. 4, debuted in early 2005 with the Warren Ellis-written storyline "Extremis", with artist Adi Granov.[48][49] It ran 35 issues (Jan. 2005 - Jan. 2009), with the cover logo simply Iron Man beginning with issue #13, and Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., beginning issue #15. On the final three issues, the cover logo was overwritten by "War Machine, Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D.",[50] which led to the launch of a War Machine ongoing series.[51]

The Invincible Iron Man vol. 5, by writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca, began with a premiere issue cover-dated July 2008.[52] For a seven-month overlap, Marvel published both volume four and volume five simultaneously.[50][53] Volume five jumped its numbering of issues from #33 to #500, cover dated March 2011, to reflect the start from the premiere issue of volume one in 1968.

After the conclusion of The Invincible Iron Man a new Iron Man series was started as a part of Marvel Now!. Written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Greg Land, it began with issue #1 in November 2012.[54]

Many Iron Man annualsminiseries, and one-shot titles have been published through the years, such as Age of Innocence: The Rebirth of Iron Man (Feb. 1996), Iron Man: The Iron Age #1-2 (Aug.-Sept. 1998), Iron Man: Bad Blood #1-4 (Sept.-Dec. 2000), Iron Man House of M #1-3 (Sept.-Nov. 2005), Fantastic Four / Iron Man: Big in Japan #1-4 (Dec. 2005 - March 2006), Iron Man: The Inevitable #1-6 (Feb.-July 2006), Iron Man / Captain America: Casualties of War (Feb. 2007), Iron Man: Hypervelocity #1-6 (March-Aug. 2007), Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin #1-6 (Nov. 2007 - April 2008), and Iron Man: Legacy of Doom (June-Sept. 2008). Publications have included such spin-offs as the one-shot Iron Man 2020 (June 1994), featuring a different Iron Man in the future, and theanimated TV series adaptations Marvel Action Hour, Featuring Iron Man #1-8 (Nov. 1994 - June 1995) and Marvel Adventures Iron Man #1-12 (July 2007 - June 2008).[55]

Origins

Anthony Edward Stark, the son of wealthy industrialist and head of Stark IndustriesHoward Stark, and Maria Stark, was born on Long Island. A boy genius, he enters MIT at the age of 15 to study electrical engineering and later receives Master's degrees in electrical engineering and physics. After his parents are killed in a car accident, he inherits his father's company.

Tony Stark is injured by a booby trap and captured by enemy forces led by Wong-Chu. Wong-Chu orders Stark to build weapons, but Stark's injuries are dire and shrapnel is moving towards his heart. His fellow prisoner, Ho Yinsen, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose work Stark had greatly admired during college, constructs a magnetic chest plate to keep the shrapnel from reaching Stark's heart, keeping him alive. In secret, Stark and Yinsen use the workshop to design and construct a suit of powered armor, which Stark uses to escape. But during the escape attempt, Yinsen sacrifices his life to save Stark's by distracting the enemy as Stark recharges. Stark takes revenge on his kidnappers and heads back to rejoin the American forces, on his way meeting a wounded American Marine fighter pilot, James "Rhodey" Rhodes.

Back home, Stark discovers that the shrapnel fragment lodged in his chest cannot be removed without killing him, and he is forced to wear the armor's chestplate beneath his clothes to act as a regulator for his heart. He must recharge the chestplate every day or else risk the shrapnel killing him. The cover for Iron Man is that he is Stark's bodyguard and corporate mascot. To that end, Iron Man fights threats to his company, such as Communistopponents Black Widow, the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man, as well as independent villains like the Mandarin, who eventually becomes his greatest enemy. No one suspects Stark of being Iron Man as he cultivates an image as a rich playboy and industrialist. Two notable members of Stark's supporting cast at this point are his personal chauffeur Harold "Happy" Hogan and secretary Virginia "Pepper" Potts, to both of whom he eventually reveals his dual identity. Meanwhile, James Rhodes finds his own niche as Stark's personal pilot, revealing himself to be a man of extraordinary skill and daring.

The comic took an anti-Communist stance in its early years, which was softened as opposition rose to the Vietnam War.[4] This change evolved in a series of stories with Stark profoundly reconsidering his political opinions and the morality of manufacturing weapons for the military. Stark shows himself to be occasionally arrogant and willing to let the ends justify the means.[56][57] This leads to personal conflicts with the people around him, both in his civilian and superhero identities. Stark uses his personal fortune not only to outfit his own armor, but also to develop weapons for S.H.I.E.L.D. and other technologies such as the Quinjets used by the Avengers, and the image inducers used by the X-Men. Eventually, Stark's heart condition is discovered by the public and treated with an artificial heart transplant.[58]

1970s and early 1980s

Later on, Stark expands on his armor designs and begins to build his arsenal of specialized armors for particular situations such as for space travel[33] and stealth.[34][35] Stark develops a serious dependency on alcohol in the "Demon in a Bottle" storyline.[59] The first time it becomes a problem is when Stark discovers that the national security agency S.H.I.E.L.D. has been buying a controlling interest in his company in order to ensure Stark's continued weapons development for them. At the same time, it was revealed that several minor supervillains armed with advanced weapons who had bedeviled Stark throughout his superhero career were in fact in the employ of Stark's business rival, Justin Hammer who began to plague Stark more directly.[60][61] At one point in Hammer's manipulations, the Iron Man armor is even taken over and used to murder a diplomat.[61] Although Iron Man is not immediately under suspicion, Stark is forced to hand the armor over to the authorities.[62] Eventually Stark and Rhodes, who is now his personal pilot and confidant, track down and defeat those responsible, although Hammer would return to bedevil Stark again.[33][63] With the support of his then-girlfriend, Bethany Cabe, his friends and his employees, Stark pulls through these crises and overcomes his dependency on alcohol.[64] Even as he recovers from this harrowing personal trial, Stark's life is further complicated when he has a confrontation with Doctor Doom that is interrupted by an opportunistic enemy sending them back in time to the time of King Arthur.[36] Once there, Iron Man thwarts Doom's attempt to solicit the aid of Morgan Le Fay, and the Latverian ruler swears deadly vengeance - to be indulged sometime after the two return to their own time.[37] This incident was collected and published as Doomquest.

Some time later, a ruthless rival, Obadiah Stane, manipulates Stark emotionally into a serious relapse. As a result, Stark loses control of Stark International to Stane, becomes a homeless alcohol-abusing vagrant and gives up his armored identity to Rhodes, who becomes the new Iron Man for a lengthy period of time. Eventually, Stark recovers and joins a new startup, Circuits Maximus. Stark concentrates on new technological designs, including building a new set of armor as part of his recuperative therapy. Rhodes continues to act as Iron Man but steadily grows more aggressive and paranoid, due to the armor not having been calibrated properly for his use. Eventually Rhodes goes on a rampage, and Stark has to don a replica of his original armor to stop him. Fully recovered, Stark confronts Stane who has himself designed a version of armor based around designs seized along with Stark International, dubbing himself 'Iron Monger'. Defeated in battle, Stane rather than give Stark the satisfaction of taking him to trial, commits suicide.[65] Shortly thereafter, Stark regains his personal fortune, but decides against repurchasing Stark International until much later; he instead creates Stark Enterprises, headquartered in Los Angeles.

Late 1980s and 1990s

In an attempt to stop other people from misusing his designs, Stark goes about disabling other armored heroes and villains who are using suits based on the Iron Man technology, the designs of which were stolen by his enemy Spymaster. His quest to destroy all instances of the stolen technology severely hurts his reputation as Iron Man. After attacking and disabling a series of minor villains such as Stilt-Man, he attacks and defeats the government operative known as Stingray. The situation worsens when Stark realizes that Stingray's armor does not incorporate any of his designs. He publicly "fires" Iron Man while covertly pursuing his agenda. He uses the cover story of wanting to help disable the rogue Iron Man to infiltrate and disable the armor of the S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives known as the Mandroids, and disabling the armor of the Guardsmen, in the process allowing some of the villains that they guard to escape. This leads the United States government to declare Iron Man a danger and an outlaw. Iron Man then travels to Russia where he inadvertently causes the death of the Soviet Titanium Man during a fight. Returning to the U.S., he faces an enemy commissioned by the government named Firepower. Unable to defeat him head on, Stark fakes Iron Man's demise, intending to retire the suit permanently. When Firepower goes rogue, Stark creates a new suit, claiming that a new person is in the armor.

Stark's health continues to deteriorate, and he discovers the armor's cybernetic interface is causing irreversible damage to his nervous system. His condition is aggravated by a failed attempt on his life by Kathy Dare, a mentally unbalanced former lover, which injures his spine, paralyzing him.[66] Stark has a nerve chip implanted into his spine to regain his mobility.[67] Still, Stark's nervous system continues its slide towards failure, and he constructs a "skin" made up of artificial nerve circuitry to assist it. Stark begins to pilot a remote-controlled Iron Man armor, but when faced with the Masters of Silence, the telepresence suit proves inadequate. Stark then designs a more heavily armed version of the suit to wear, the "Variable Threat Response Battle Suit", which becomes known as theWar Machine armor. Ultimately, the damage to his nervous system becomes too extensive. Faking his death, Stark places himself in suspended animation to heal as Rhodes takes over both the running of Stark Enterprises and the mantle of Iron Man, although he utilizes the War Machine armor. Stark ultimately makes a full recovery by using a chip to reprogram himself and resumes the Iron Man identity. When Rhodes learns that Stark has manipulated his friends by faking his own death, he becomes enraged and the two friends part ways, Rhodes continuing as War Machine in a solo career.

The story arc "The Crossing" reveals Iron Man as a traitor among the Avengers' ranks, due to years of manipulation by the time-traveling dictator Kang the Conqueror. Stark, as a sleeper agent in Kang's thrall, kills Marilla, the nanny of Crystal and Quicksilver'sdaughter Luna, as well as Rita DeMara, the female Yellowjacket, then Amanda Chaney, an ally of the Avengers. The Avengers Forever limited series later retcons these events as the work of a disguised Immortus, not Kang, and that the mental control had gone back only a few months.[68]

Needing help to defeat both Stark and the ostensible Kang, the team travels back in time to recruit a teenaged Anthony Stark from an alternate timeline to assist them. The young Stark steals an Iron Man suit in order to aid the Avengers against his older self. The sight of his younger self shocks the older Stark enough for him to regain momentary control of his actions, and he sacrifices his life to stop Kang. The young Stark later builds his own suit to become the new Iron Man, and, remaining in the present day, gains legal control of "his" company.[volume & issue needed]

During the battle with the creature called Onslaught, the teenaged Stark dies, along with many other superheroes. Franklin Richards preserves these "dead" heroes in the "Heroes Reborn" pocket universe, in which Anthony Stark is once again an adult hero; Franklin recreates the heroes in the pocket universe in the forms he is most familiar with rather than what they are at the present. The reborn adult Stark, upon returning to the normal Marvel Universe, merges with the original Stark, who had died during "The Crossing", but was resurrected by Franklin Richards. This new Anthony Stark possesses the memories of both the original and teenage Anthony Stark, and thus considers himself to be essentially both of them. With the aid of the law firm Nelson & Murdock, he successfully regains his fortune and, with Stark Enterprises having been sold to the Fujikawa Corporation following Stark's death, sets up a new company, Stark Solutions. He returns from the pocket universe with a restored and healthy heart. After the Avengers reform, Stark demands a hearing be convened to look into his actions just prior to the Onslaught incident. Cleared of wrongdoing, he rejoins the Avengers.[volume & issue needed]

2000s

At one point, Stark's armor becomes sentient despite fail-safes to prevent its increasingly sophisticated computer systems from doing so. Initially, Stark welcomes this "living" armor for its improved tactical abilities. The armor begins to grow more aggressive, killing indiscriminately and eventually desiring to replace Stark altogether. In the final confrontation on a desert island, Stark suffers another heart attack. The armor sacrifices its own existence to save its creator's life, giving up essential components to give Stark a new, artificial heart. This new heart solves Stark's health problems, but it does not have an internal power supply, so Stark becomes once again dependent on periodic recharging. The sentient armor incident so disturbs Stark that he temporarily returns to using an unsophisticated early model version of his armor to avoid a repeat incident. He dabbles with using liquid metal circuitry known as S.K.I.N. that forms into a protective shell around his body, but eventually returns to more conventional hard metal armors.[volume & issue needed]

During this time, Stark engages in a romance with Rumiko Fujikawa (first appearance in Iron Man (vol. 3) #4), a wealthy heiress and daughter of the man who had taken over his company during the "Heroes Reborn" period. Her relationship with Stark endures many highs and lows, including an infidelity with Stark's rival, Tiberius Stone, in part because the fun-loving Rumiko believes that Stark is too serious and dull. Their relationship ends with Rumiko's death at the hands of an Iron Man impostor in Iron Man (vol. 3) #87.

In Iron Man (vol. 3) #55 (July 2002), Stark publicly reveals his dual identity as Iron Man, not realizing that by doing so, he has invalidated the agreements protecting his armor from government duplication, since those contracts state that the Iron Man armor would be used by an employee of Tony Stark, not by Stark himself. When he discovers that the United States military is again using his technology, and its defective nature nearly causes a disaster to Washington, D.C. which Iron Man barely manages to avert, Stark accepts aPresidential appointment as Secretary of Defense. In this way, he hopes to monitor and direct how his designs are used.[69]

In the "Avengers Disassembled" storyline, Stark is forced to resign after launching into a tirade against the Latverian ambassador at the United Nations, being manipulated by the mentally imbalanced Scarlet Witch, who destroys the Avengers Mansion and kills several members. Stark publicly stands down as Iron Man, but actually continues using the costume. He joins the Avengers in stopping the breakout in progress from the Raft and even saves Captain America from falling.[70] Tony changes the Avengers base to Stark Tower.[71] The Ghost, the Living Laser and Spymaster reappear and shift Iron Man from standard superhero stories to dealing with politics and industrialism.[72]

New Avengers: Illuminati #1 (June 2006) reveals that years before, Stark had started participating with a group of leaders including the Black PantherProfessor XMister FantasticBlack BoltDoctor Strange, and Namor. The goal of the group (dubbed the Illuminatiby Marvel) was to strategize overarching menaces, in which the Black Panther rejects a membership offer. Stark's goal is to create a governing body for all superheroes in the world, but the beliefs of its members instead force them all to share vital information.

"Civil War"

In the "Civil War" storyline, after the actions of inexperienced superheroes The New Warriors result in the destruction of several city blocks, including the elementary school, in Stamford, Connecticut, there is an outcry across America against super-humans. Learning of the Government's proposed plans, Tony Stark suggests a new plan to instigate a Superhuman Registration Act. The Act would force every super-powered individual in the U.S. to register their identity with the government and act as licensed agents. The Act would force inexperienced super-humans to receive training in how to use and control their abilities, something in which Tony strongly believes. Since his struggle with alcoholism, Stark has carried a tremendous burden of guilt after nearly killing an innocent bystander while piloting the armor drunk. Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four and Dr. Henry "Hank" Pym both agree with Stark's proposal; unfortunately, not everyone does. After Captain America is ordered to bring in anyone who refuses to register, he and other anti-registration superheroes go rogue, coming into conflict with the pro-registration heroes, led by Iron Man. The war ends when Captain America surrenders to prevent further collateral damage and civilian casualties, although he had defeated Stark by defusing his armor. Stark is appointed the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D.,[73] and organizes a new government-sanctioned group of Avengers. Shortly afterwards, Captain America is assassinated while in custody.[74] This leaves Stark with a great amount of guilt and misgivings about the cost of his victory and he states that "it wasn't worth it". He serves as one of the pallbearers at the memorial service for Captain America, along with Ben GrimmMs. MarvelRick Jones, T'Challa and Sam Wilson.[75]

"Secret Invasion"

To tie into the 2008 Iron Man feature film, Marvel launched a new Iron Man ongoing series, The Invincible Iron Man, with writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larocca. The series inaugural six-part storyline was "The Five Nightmares", which saw Stark targeted byEzekiel Stane, the son of Stark's former nemesis, Obadiah Stane.[76]

In the "Secret Invasion" storyline, after Tony Stark survives an encounter with Ultron taking over his body, he is confronted in the hospital by Spider-Woman, holding the corpse of a Skrull posing as Elektra. Becoming keenly aware of the upcoming invasion of the Skrulls, Tony gathers the Illuminati and reveals the corpse to them, declaring that they are at war. After Black Bolt reveals himself as a Skrull and is killed by Namor, a squadron of Skrulls attack, forcing Tony to evacuate the other Illuminati members and destroy the area, killing all the Skrulls. Realizing that they are incapable of trusting each other, the members all separate to form individual plans for the oncoming invasion.[77]

Stark is discredited and publicly vilified after his inability to anticipate or prevent a secret infiltration and invasion of Earth by the shape-shifting alien Skrull race, and by the Skrull disabling of his StarkTech technology, which had a virtual monopoly on worldwide defense.[78] After the invasion, the U.S. government removes him as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and disbands the Avengers, handing control of the Initiative over to Norman Osborn.

"Dark Reign"

Main article: Dark Reign (comics)
See also: The Invincible Iron Man

With his Extremis powers failing, Stark uploads a virus to destroy all records of the Registration Act, thus preventing Osborn from learning the identities of his fellow heroes and anything that Osborn could possibly exploit, including repulsor generators. The only copy of that database remaining is in Stark's brain, which he is trying to delete bit by bit while on the run in one of his extra armors.[79] As Norman Osborn has him hunted as a fugitive, Stark travels worldwide on his quest to wipe out his mental database, going so far as to inflict brain damage on himself in order to ensure that the relevant information is wiped as a suicide attempt could damage the wrong parts of his brain while leaving Osborn with enough material to salvage the right information. When Osborn personally catches up to the debilitated Stark and beats him savagely, Pepper Potts broadcasts the beatings worldwide, costing Osborn credibility and giving Stark public sympathy. Stark goes into a vegetative state, having previously granted Donald Blake (alter ego of the Norse-god superhero Thor) power of attorney.[80] A holographic message stored in Pepper's armor reveals that Stark had developed a means of 'rebooting' his mind from his current state prior to his destruction of the database, with Blake and Bucky resolving to use it to restore him to normal despite Stark's offer in the message to stay in his current state if it would make things easier and Pepper's own uncertainty about the fact that Tony can come back when so many others cannot. Meanwhile, in Stark's subconscious, he is trapped in a scenario where figments of his own mind are preventing him from moving on and returning to the waking world. When the procedure fails to work, Bucky calls in Doctor Strange, who attempts to and succeeds in restoring Stark back to consciousness. It turns out the backup Stark created was made prior to the Civil War, and as such he does not remember anything that took place during the event, although he still concludes after reviewing his past actions that he would not have done anything differently. His brain damage means that he is now dependent on an arc reactor to sustain his body's autonomous functions such as breathing, blinking and a heartbeat due to the brain damage he sustained rendering it impossible for him to do those himself.[81]

2010s

"Siege"

Main article: Siege (comics)

In the "Siege" storyline, Tony Stark is seen under the care of Dr. Donald Blake and Maria Hill. When the two spot the attack on Asgard, Blake tells Maria to run away with Stark.[82] Hill leaves Stark to assist Blake, now as Thor, after his ambush by Osborn and his attack dog the Sentry. Hill rescues Thor and brings him back to Broxton to recuperate. When Osborn declares martial law and unleashes Daken and the Sentry on Broxton to root out Thor and Hill, Thor reveals himself to defend the town. Hill returns to Tony Stark's hiding place to move him to a safer location and are joined soon after by Speed of the Young Avengers, who holds a certain indestructible suitcase that Edwin Jarvis had given Captain America earlier. Hill orders Speed to surrender when Stark stops her and asks Speed to give him the case. While Osborn is battling the New Avengers, Stark appears in a variant of his MK III armor and proceeds to disable Osborn's Iron Patriot armor. Osborn orders the Sentry to annihilate Asgard, rather than allow the Avengers to have it, which the Sentry does, practically leveling the city before the horrified eyes of Thor. After Asgard falls, literally, Stark stands alongside his fellow heroes, as the now armor-free Osborn exclaims they are all doomed and he 'was saving them from him' pointing up towards a Void-possessed Sentry hovering over them.[83] As the Void tears apart the teams, Loki gives them the power to fight back through the Norn Stones. When the Void kills Loki, Thor's rage-fueled blows rattle the creature. Tony then tells Thor to get the Void away from Asgard, which he does. Tony then drops the commandeered H.A.M.M.E.R. Helicarrier 'as a bullet', subduing the Void. When Robert Reynolds begs to be killed, Thor denies the request, but is forced to when the Void resurfaces. Sometime later, the Super-Human Registration Act is repealed and Tony is given back his company and armory. As a symbol for their heroics and their new unity, Thor places a remaining Asgardian tower on Stark Tower where the Watchtower once stood.[84]

"Heroic Age"

Main article: Heroic Age (comics)

In the 2010-2011 "Stark: Resilient" storyline, Tony builds a new armor, the Bleeding Edge, with the help of Mister Fantastic. This new armor fully utilizes the repulsor tech battery embedded in his chest to power Tony's entire body and mind thus allowing him access to extremis once more. Furthermore, the battery operates as his "heart" and is predominantly the only thing keeping him alive.[85] Later, Tony announces that he will form a new company, Stark Resilient. He states that he will stop developing weapons, instead, he plans to use his repulsor technology to give free energy to the world. Justine and Sasha Hammer create their own armored hero, Detroit Steel, to take Stark's place as the Army's leading weapons-builder. Stark's plan consists of building two repulsor-powered cars. The Hammers try to foil his efforts. The first car is destroyed by sabotage, while Detroit Steel attacks Stark Resilient's facilities while Tony tests the second car. Through a legal maneuver, Tony is able to get the Hammers to stop their attacks and releases a successful commercial about his new car.[86][87]

"Fear Itself"

In the 2011 "Fear Itself" storyline, Earth is attacked by the Serpent, brother of Odin.[88] In Paris, Iron Man fights Grey Gargoyle, who has become Mokk, Breaker of Faith and one of the Serpent's Worthy. Mokk leaves Iron Man unconscious and transforms Detroit Steel into stone. When Iron Man awakens, he sees that Mokk has turned all the people in Paris into stone and left.[89][90] To defeat the Serpent's army, Tony drinks a bottle of wine - thus 'sacrificing' his sobriety - to gain an audience with Odin, who allows Tony to enter the realm of Svartalfheim. There, Tony and the dwarves of Svartalfheim work to build weapons the Avengers can use against the Worthy.[91] Tony upgrades his armor with uru-infused enchantments and delivers the finished weapons to the Avengers, who use them for the final battle against the Serpent's forces. Iron Man watches as Thor kills the Serpent, but dies in the process. After the battle is over, Tony melts down the weapons he created and repairs Captain America's shield, which had been broken by Serpent, and gives it back to Captain America, telling him that the shield is now stronger.[92] During a subsequent argument with Odin about the gods' lack of involvement in the recent crisis, Odin gives Tony a brief opportunity to see the vastness of the universe the way he sees it, before, as thanks for Tony's role in the recent crisis, he restores all the people that the Grey Gargoyle killed during his rampage.[93]

Return of the Mandarin and Marvel NOW!

In the storylines "Demon" and "The Long Way Down", Stark is subpoenaed by the U.S. government after evidence surfaces of him using the Iron Man armor while under the influence of intoxicants. Mandarin and Zeke Stane upgrade some of Iron Man's old enemies and send them to commit acts of terrorism across the world, intending to discredit Iron Man. General Bruce Babbage forces Stark to wear a tech governor, a device that allows Babbage to deactivate Stark's armor whenever he wants. To fight back, Tony undergoes a surgical procedure that expels the Bleeding Edge technology out of his body and replaces his repulsor node with a new model, forcing Babbage to remove the tech governor off his chest. He announces his retirement as Iron Man, faking Rhodes' death and giving him a new armor so that he becomes the new Iron Man.[94] This leads into the next storyline, "The Future", in which the Mandarin takes control of Stark's mind and uses him to create new armored bodies for the alien spirits inhabiting his rings, but Stark allies himself with some of his old enemies, who have also been imprisoned by Mandarin, and manages to defeat and escape him. The final issue of this storyline concluded Matt Fraction's series.[95]

In the ongoing series that premiered in 2012 as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch, Tony Stark has hit a technological ceiling. After the death of Dr. Maya Hansen and the destruction of all of the Extremis Ver. 2 kits that were being sold to the black market, Tony decides that the Earth is not safe without him learning more from what's in the final frontier. He takes his new suit, enhanced with an artificial intelligence named P.E.P.P.E.R. and joins Peter Quill and The Guardians of the Galaxy after helping them thwart a Badoon attack on Earth.[96]

Superior Iron Man

Tony Stark's personality was inversed because of the events of AXIS, bringing out more dark aspects of himself like irresponsibility, egotism and alcoholism;[volume & issue needed] where other heroes and villains were returned to normal at the conclusion of the crisis, Stark protected himself from the change via an energy shield, which also shielded Alex Summers and Sabretooth from the blast.[97] After relocating to San Francisco, he built himself a new, all-white armor and handed the citizens the Extremis 3.0 app, a version of the techno-virus that could offer beauty, health or even immortallity, for free.[98] When every person in the city viewed Iron Man like a messiah for making their dreams come true, he ended the free trial mode and started charging the app an exorbitant daily fee of $99.99, making many of them desperate for more to the point of resorting to crime.[99] The Extremis 3.0 fever caught the attention of Daredevil, who confronted Stark at his new Alcatraz Island penthouse, but was easily brushed off.[100] Iron Man later used Extremis 3.0 to temporarily restore Daredevil's sight, if only to prove his point.[101] Although Daredevil deduced that Stark had actually added Extremis to the water supply and the phones simply transmitted an activation signal, Stark retaliated by subjecting Murdock to minor brain damage to prevent him from sharing this revelation with others while he reprogrammed Extremis to activate via a signal Murdock could not detect.[102]

When Tony Stark sought a new chief of security, he considers ProdigyVictor Mancha and the second Beetle, before giving the position to Scott Lang; ultimately, however, Lang declines the job, moving instead to Miami to stay near his daughter Cassie.[103]

After discovering that new villain Teen Abomination was the son of Happy Hogan, Stark decided to help him,[104] but this minor act of redemption was too little too late in the eyes of Pepper Potts, who attacks Stark with the aid of an A.I. based on Stark's mind, created after a similar instance where Stark's mind was altered by external forces in the event of Stark going too far.[105] This culminated in a confrontation between the two Starks, as Stark calls on the unwitting aid of all 'infected' with the Extremis upgrade while the A.I. uses Stark's various old armors to attack him.

Armor

Iron Man possesses powered armor that gives him superhuman strength and durability, flight, and an array of weapons. The armor is invented and worn by Stark (with occasional short-term exceptions). Other people who have assumed the Iron Man identity include Stark's long-time partner and best friend James Rhodes;[39] close associates Harold "Happy" Hogan; Eddie March;[107][108] and (briefly)Michael O'Brien.

The weapons systems of the suit have changed over the years, but Iron Man's standard offensive weapons have always been the repulsor rays that are fired from the palms of his gauntlets. Other weapons built into various incarnations of the armor include: the uni-beam projector in its chest; pulse bolts (that pick up kinetic energy along the way; so the farther they travel, the harder they hit); anelectromagnetic pulse generator; and a defensive energy shield that can be extended up to 360 degrees. Other capabilities include: generating ultra-freon (i.e., a freeze-beam); creating and manipulatingmagnetic fields; emitting sonic blasts; and projecting 3-dimensional holograms (to create decoys).

In addition to the general-purpose model he wears, Stark has developed several specialized suits for space travel,[33] deep-sea divingstealth,[34][35] and other special purposes. Stark has modified suits, like the Hulkbuster heavy armor. The Hulkbuster armor is composed of add-ons to his so-called modular armor, designed to enhance its strength and durability enough to engage the Incredible Hulk in a fight. A later model, designed for use against Thor, is modeled on the Destroyer and uses a mystical power source. Stark develops an electronics pack during the Armor Wars that, when attached to armors that use Stark technologies, will burn out those components, rendering the suit useless. This pack is ineffective on later models. While it is typically associated with James Rhodes, the War Machine armor began as one of Stark's specialty armors.

The most recent models of Stark's armor, beginning with the Extremis Armor, are now stored in the hollow portions of Stark's bones, and the personal area networking implement used to control it is implanted in his forearm, and connected directly to his central nervous system.

The Extremis has since been removed,[volume & issue needed] and he now uses more conventional armors. Some armors still take a liquid form but are not stored within his body.

Powers

After being critically injured during a battle with the Extremis-enhanced Mallen, Stark injects his nervous system with modified techno-organic virus-like body restructuring machines (the Extremis process).[109] By rewriting his own biology, Stark is able to save his life, gain an enhanced healing factor, and partially merge with the Iron Man armor, superseding the need for bulky, AI-controlled armors in favor of lighter designs, technopathically controlled by his own brain. His enhanced technopathy extends to every piece of technology, limitless and effortlessly due to his ability to interface with communication satellites and wireless connections to increase his "range". Some components of the armor-sheath are now stored in Tony's body, able to be recalled, and extruded from his own skin, at will.

During the "Secret Invasion" storyline the Extremis package is catastrophically shutdown by a virus, forcing him again to rely on the previous iteration of his armor, and restoring his previous limitations. Furthermore, Osborn's takeover of most of the few remaining Starktech factories, with Ezekiel Stane systematically crippling the others, limits Tony to the use of lesser, older and weaker armors.[110]

After being forced to "wipe out" his brain to prevent Norman Osborn from gaining his information, Tony Stark is forced to have a new arc reactor, of Rand design installed in his chest. The process greatly improves his strength, stamina and intellect. The procedure left him with virtually no autonomic functions: as his brain was stripped of every biological function, Tony is forced to rely on a digital backup of his memories (leaving him with severe gaps and lapses in his long-term memory) and on software routine in the arc reactor for basic stimuli reaction, such as blinking and breathing.[111][112] The Bleeding Edge package of armor and physical enhancement is now equal in power, if not a more advanced, version of the old Extremis tech.[85]

Skills

Tony Stark is an inventive genius whose expertise in the fields of mathematicsphysicschemistry, and computer science rivals that of Reed RichardsHank Pym, and Bruce Banner, and his expertise in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering surpasses even theirs. He is regarded as one of the most intelligent characters in the Marvel Universe. He graduated with advanced degrees in physics and engineering at the age of 17 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)[113] and further developed his knowledge ranging from artificial intelligence to quantum mechanics as time progressed. His expertise extends to his ingenuity in dealing with difficult situations, such as difficult foes and deathtraps, in which he is capable of using available tools, including his suit, in unorthodox but effective ways. He is well respected in the business world, able to command people's attention when he speaks on economic matters, having over the years built up several multi-million dollar companies from virtually nothing. He is noted for the loyalty he commands from and returns to those who work for him, as well as for his business ethics. Thus he immediately fired an employee who made profitable, but illegal, sales to Doctor Doom.[36] He strives to be environmentally responsible in his businesses.

At a time when Stark was unable to use his armor for a period, he received some combat training from Captain America and has become physically formidable on his own when the situation demands it.[114] In addition, Stark possesses great business and political acumen. On multiple occasions he reacquired control of his companies after losing them amid corporate takeovers.[115]

Due to his membership in the Illuminati, Iron Man was given the Space Infinity Gem to safeguard.[116] It allows the user to exist in any location (or all locations), move any object anywhere throughout the universe and warp or rearrange space.

Other versions

Main article: Alternative versions of Iron Man

In other media

Main article: Iron Man in other media

In 1966, Iron Man was featured in a series of cartoons.[117] In 1981, Iron Man guest appeared in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but only as Tony Stark.[118] He went on to feature again in his own series in the 1990s as part of the Marvel Action Hour with the Fantastic Four; Robert Hays provided his voice in these animated cartoons. Iron Man makes an appearance in the episode "Shell Games" of Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes. Apart from comic books, Iron Man appears in Capcom's "Vs." video games, including Marvel Super HeroesMarvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes as either a Gold War Machine or Hyper Armor War Machine, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of HeroesMarvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Iron Man is a playable character in Iron Man, the 1992 arcade game Captain America and the AvengersMarvel: Ultimate Alliance and its sequel, and Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, as well as being featured as an unlockable character in X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse and Tony Hawk's Underground.[119] In the 2009 animated series, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, most of the characters, including Tony Stark, are teenagers. An anime adaptation began airing in Japan in October 2010 as part of a collaboration between Marvel Animation and Madhouse, in which Stark, voiced by Keiji Fujiwara, travels to Japan where he ends up facing off against the Zodiac.[120]

In 2008, a film adaptation titled Iron Man was released, starring Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark and directed by Jon FavreauIron Man received very positive reviews from film critics,[121] grossing $318 million domestically and $585 million worldwide.[122] The character of Tony Stark, again played by Robert Downey, Jr., appeared at the end of the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk. Downey reprised his role in Iron Man 2 (2010), Marvel's The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and will appear in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and a two part third Avengers film titled Avengers: Infinity War (2018/2019).[123]

Cultural influence

  • The rapper Ghostface Killah, a member of Wu-Tang Clan, titled his 1996 debut solo album Ironman, and has since continued to use lyrics related to the Iron Man comics and samples from the animated TV shows on his records.[124][125] He has adopted the nickname Tony Starks as one of his numerous alter-egos,[125] and was featured in a scene deleted from the Iron Man film.
  • Paul McCartney's song "Magneto and Titanium Man" was inspired by the X-Men's nemesis and the original version of the Iron Man villain. Another Iron Man villain, the Crimson Dynamo, is mentioned in the lyrics to this song.[126][127]
  • The British band Razorlight mentions Tony Stark in a verse of their song, "Hang By, Hang By".[128]
  • The character of Nathan Stark on the television show Eureka is inspired by Tony Stark.[129]
  • Forbes has ranked Iron Man among the wealthiest fictional characters on their annual ranking,[130] while BusinessWeek has ranked him as one of the ten most intelligent characters in American comics.[131]
  • In 2011, IGN ranked Iron Man 12th in the Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.[132]
  • Two Iron Man-themed trucks compete in the Monster Jam monster truck racing series. Debuted in Atlanta on 9 January 2010, they are driven by Lee O' Donnell and Morgan Kane.[133]

 

Captain America is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by cartoonists Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (cover dated March 1941) from Timely Comics, a predecessor of Marvel Comics. Captain America was designed as a patriotic supersoldier who often fought the Axis powers of World War II and was Timely Comics' most popular character during the wartime period. The popularity of superheroes waned following the war and the Captain America comic book was discontinued in 1950, with a short-lived revival in 1953. Since Marvel Comics revived the character in 1964, Captain America has remained in publication.

Captain America wears a costume that bears an American flag motif, and is armed with a nearly indestructible shield that he throws at foes. The character is usually depicted as the alter ego of Steve Rogers, a frail young man enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental serum to aid the United States government's imminent efforts in World War II. Near the end of the war, he was trapped in ice and survived insuspended animation until he was revived in the present day to subsequently become the long-time leader of the Avengers.

Captain America was the first Marvel Comics character to have appeared in media outside comics with the release of the 1944 movie serialCaptain America. Since then, the character has been featured in other films and television series, more recently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) portrayed by Chris Evans in Captain America: The First AvengerThe AvengersCaptain America: The Winter SoldierAvengers: Age of Ultron, and the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War.

Golden Age

In 1940, writer Joe Simon conceived the idea for Captain America and made a sketch of the character in costume.[1] "I wrote the name 'Super American' at the bottom of the page," Simon said in his autobiography, and then considered that,

No, it didn't work. There were too many 'Supers' around. 'Captain America' had a good sound to it. There weren't a lot of captains in comics. It was as easy as that. The boy companion was simply named Bucky, after my friend Bucky Pierson, a star on our high school basketball team."[2]

Simon recalled in his autobiography that Timely Comics publisher Martin Goodman gave him the go-ahead and directed that a Captain America solo comic book series be published as soon as possible. Needing to fill a full comic with primarily one character's stories, Simon did not believe that his regular creative partner, artist Jack Kirby, could handle the workload alone:

I didn't have a lot of objections to putting a crew on the first issue ... There were two young artists from Connecticut that had made a strong impression on me. Al Avison and Al Gabriele often worked together and were quite successful in adapting their individual styles to each other. Actually, their work was not too far from [that of] Kirby's. If they worked on it, and if one inker tied the three styles together, I believed the final product would emerge as quite uniform. The two Als were eager to join in on the new Captain America book, but Jack Kirby was visibly upset. 'You're still number one, Jack,' I assured him. 'It's just a matter of a quick deadline for the first issue.'

'I'll make the deadline,' Jack promised. 'I'll pencil it [all] myself and make the deadline.' I hadn't expected this kind of reaction ... but I acceded to Kirby's wishes and, it turned out, was lucky that I did. There might have been two Als, but there was only one Jack Kirby.

I wrote the first Captain America book with penciled lettering right on the drawing boards, with very rough sketches for figures and backgrounds. Kirby did his thing, building the muscular anatomy, adding ideas and pepping up the action as only he could. Then he tightened up the penciled drawings, adding detailed backgrounds, faces and figures.[2

Al Liederman would ink that first issue, which was lettered by Simon and Kirby's regular letterer, Howard Ferguson.[3]

Simon said Captain America was a consciously political creation; he and Kirby were morally repulsed by the actions of Nazi Germany in the years leading up to the United States' involvement in World War II and felt war was inevitable: "The opponents to the war were all quite well organized. We wanted to have our say too."[4]

Captain America Comics #1 — cover-dated March 1941[5] and on sale December 20, 1940,[6][7] a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but a full year into World War II — showed the protagonist punching Nazi leader Adolf Hitler; it sold nearly one million copies.[8] While most readers responded favorably to the comic, some took objection. Simon noted, "When the first issue came out we got a lot of ... threatening letters and hate mail. Some people really opposed what Cap stood for."[4] The threats, which included menacing groups of people loitering out on the street outside of the offices, proved so serious that police protection was posted with New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia personally contacting Simon and Kirby to give his support.[9]

Though preceded as a "patriotically themed superhero" by MLJ's The Shield, Captain America immediately became the most prominent and enduring of that wave of superheroes introduced in American comic books prior to and during World War II,[10] as evidenced by the unusual move at the time of premiering the character in his own title instead of an anthology title first. This popularity drew the attention and a complaint from MLJ that the character's triangular shield too closely resembled the chest symbol of their Shield character. In response, Goodman had Simon and Kirby create a distinctive round shield for issue 2, which went on to become an iconic element of the character.[11] With his sidekick Bucky, Captain America faced NazisJapanese, and other threats to wartime America and the Allies. Stanley Lieber, now better known as Stan Lee, contributed to the character in issue #3 in the filler text story "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge", which introduced the character's use of his shield as a returning throwing weapon.[12] Captain America soon became Timely's most popular character and even had a fan-club called the "Sentinels of Liberty."[4]

Circulation figures remained close to a million copies per month after the debut issue, which outstripped even the circulation of news magazines such as Time during the period.[10][13] After the Simon and Kirby team moved to DC Comics in late 1941, having produced Captain America Comics through issue #10 (January 1942), Al Avison and Syd Shores became regular pencillers of the celebrated title, with one generally inking over the other. The character was featured in All Winners Comics #1-19 (Summer 1941 – Fall 1946), Marvel Mystery Comics #80-84 and #86-92, USA Comics #6-17 (Dec. 1942 – Fall 1945), and All Select Comics #1-10 (Fall 1943 – Summer 1946).

In the post-war era, with the popularity of superheroes fading, Captain America led Timely's first superhero team, the All-Winners Squad, in its two published adventures, in All Winners Comics #19 and #21 (Fall–Winter 1946; there was no issue #20). After Bucky was shot and wounded in a 1948 Captain America story, he was succeeded by Captain America's girlfriend, Betsy Ross, who became the superheroine Golden GirlCaptain America Comics ran until issue #73 (July 1949),[14] at which time the series was retitled Captain America's Weird Tales for two issues,[15] with the finale being a horror/suspense anthology issue with no superheroes.

Atlas Comics attempted to revive its superhero titles when it reintroduced Captain America, along with the original Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, in Young Men #24 (Dec. 1953). Billed as "Captain America, Commie Smasher!" Captain America appeared during the next year in Young Men #24-28 and Men's Adventures #27-28, as well as in issues #76-78 of an eponymous title. Atlas' attempted superhero revival was a commercial failure,[16] and the character's title was canceled with Captain America #78 (Sept. 1954).

Silver Age revival

In the Human Torch story titled "Captain America" in Marvel Comics' Strange Tales #114 (Nov. 1963),[17] writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby depicted the brash young Fantastic Four member Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, in an exhibition performance with Captain America, described as a legendary World War II and 1950s superhero who has returned after many years of apparent retirement. The 18-page story ends with this Captain America revealed as an impostor: it was actually the villain the Acrobat, a former circus performer the Torch had defeated in Strange Tales #106, who broke two thieves out of jail, hoping to draw the police away while trying to rob the local bank. Afterward, Storm digs out an old comic book in which Captain America is shown to be Steve Rogers. A caption in the final panel says this story was a test to see if readers would like Captain America to return.

Captain America was then formally reintroduced in The Avengers #4 (March 1964),[18] which explained that in the final days of World War II, he had fallen from an experimental drone plane into the North Atlantic Ocean and spent decades frozen in a block of ice in a state of suspended animation. The hero found a new generation of readers as leader of that superhero team. Following the success of other Marvel characters introduced during the 1960s, Captain America was recast as a hero "haunted by past memories, and trying to adapt to 1960s society."[19]

After then guest-starring in the feature "Iron Man" in Tales of Suspense #58 (Oct. 1964), Captain America gained his own solo feature in that "split book," beginning the following issue.[20] Issue #63 (March 1965), which retold Captain America's origin, through issue #71 (Nov. 1965) was a period feature set during World War II and co-starred Captain America's Golden Age sidekick, Bucky. Kirby drew all but two of the stories in Tales of Suspense, which becameCaptain America with #100 (April 1968);[21] Gil Kane and John Romita, Sr., each filled in once. Several stories were finished by penciller-inker George Tuska over Kirby layouts, with one finished by Romita Sr. and another by pencillerDick Ayers and inker John Tartaglione. Kirby's regular inkers on the series were Frank Giacoia (as "Frank Ray") and Joe Sinnott, though Don Heck and Golden Age Captain America artist Syd Shores inked one story each. The new title Captain America continued to feature artwork by Kirby, as well as a short run by Jim Steranko, and work by many of the industry's top artists and writers. It was called Captain America and the Falcon from #134 (Feb. 1971) to #222 (June 1978)[22] although the Falcon's name was not on the cover for issues #193, 200, and 216. The 1972–1975 run on the title by writer Steve Englehart and artist Sal Buscema saw the series become one of Marvel's top-sellers.[23] In 2010, Comics Bulletin ranked Englehart and Buscema's run on Captain America fourth on its list of the "Top 10 1970s Marvels".[24] Kirby returned to the series as writer and penciler with issue #193 (Jan. 1975)[25] and remained through #214 (Oct. 1977).

This series — considered Captain America volume one by comics researchers and historians,[26] following the 1940s Captain America Comics and its 1950s numbering continuation of Tales of Suspense — ended with #454 (Aug. 1996).

This series was almost immediately followed by the 13-issue Captain America vol. 2 (Nov. 1996 – Nov. 1997, part of the "Heroes Reborn" crossover),[27] the 50-issue Captain America vol. 3 (Jan. 1998 – Feb. 2002),[28] the 32-issue Captain America vol. 4 (June 2002 – Dec. 2004),[29] and Captain America vol. 5 (Jan. 2005 – Aug. 2011).[30] Beginning with the 600th overall issue (Aug. 2009), Captain America resumed its original numbering, as if the series numbering had continued uninterrupted after #454.

As part of the aftermath of Marvel Comics' company-crossover storyline "Civil War", Steve Rogers was ostensibly killed in Captain America vol. 5, #25 (March 2007). Series writer Ed Brubaker remarked, "What I found is that all the really hard-core left-wing fans want Cap to be standing out on and giving speeches on the street corner against the George W. Bush administration, and all the really right-wing fans all want him to be over in the streets of Baghdad, punching out Saddam Hussein."[31] The character's co-creator, Joe Simon, said, "It's a hell of a time for him to go. We really need him now."[31] Artist Alex Ross designed a slightly revised Captain America costume that former sidekick Bucky Barnes began to wear as the new Captain America in vol. 5, #34 (March 2008).[32] As of 2007, an estimated 210 million copies of "Captain America" comic books had been sold in 75 countries.[33]

The storyline of Rogers' return began in issue #600.[34][35] Rogers, who was not dead but caroming through time, returned to the present day in the six-issue miniseries Captain America: Reborn (Sept. 2009 – March 2010).[36]

After Rogers' return, Barnes, at Rogers' insistence, continued as Captain America, beginning in the one-shot comic Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? (Feb. 2010). While Bucky Barnes continued adventuring in the pages of Captain America, Steve Rogers received his own miniseries (Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier) as well as taking on the leadership position in a new Secret Avengers ongoing series.

Spinoff series included Captain America Sentinel of Liberty (Sept. 1998 – Aug. 1999) and Captain America and the Falcon (May 2004 – June 2005). The 1940s Captain America appeared alongside the 1940s Human Torch and Sub-Mariner in the 12-issueminiseries Avengers/Invaders.[37][38] The 2007 mini-series Captain America: The Chosen, written by David Morrell and penciled by Mitchell Breitweiser, depicts a dying Steve Rogers' final minutes, at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, as his spirit guides James Newman, a young American Marine fighting in AfghanistanThe Chosen is not part of the main Marvel Universe continuity.[39][40]

The character, first as agent Steve Rogers and later after resuming his identity as Captain America, appeared as a regular character throughout the 2010–2013 Avengers series, from issue #1 (July 2010) through its final issue #34 (January 2013). The character appeared as agent Steve Rogers as a regular character in the 2010–2013 Secret Avengers series, from issue #1 (July 2010) through issue #21 (March 2012); the character made guest appearances as Captain America in issues #21.1, #22-23, #35, and the final issue of the series #37 (March 2013).

Marvel stated in May 2011 that Rogers, following the public death of Bucky Barnes in the Fear Itself miniseries, would resume his Captain America identity in a sixth volume of Captain America, by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve McNiven.[41][42] The Captain America title continued from issue #620 featuring team up stories with Bucky (#620-#628),[43] Hawkeye (#629-#632),[44] Iron Man (#633-635),[45] Namor (#635.1),[46] and Black Widow (#636-#640),[47] and the title ended its print run with issue #640.

Captain America is a regular character in Uncanny Avengers (2012), beginning with issue #1 as part of Marvel NOW!Captain America vol. 7 was launched in November 2012 with a January 2013 cover date by writer Rick Remender and artist John Romita Jr..[48]

On July 16, 2014 Marvel Comics announced that the mantle of Captain America would be passed on by Rogers (who in the most recent storyline has been turned into a 90-year-old man) to his long-time ally The Falcon to which the series will be relaunced as All-New Captain America.[49]

Legal status

In 1966 Joe Simon sued the owners of Marvel Comics, asserting that he – not Marvel – was legally entitled to renew the copyright upon the expiration of the original 28-year term. The two parties settled out of court, with Simon agreeing to a statement that the character had been created under terms of employment by the publisher, and therefore it was work for hire owned by them.[50]

In 1999, Simon filed to claim the copyright to Captain America under a provision of the Copyright Act of 1976 which allowed the original creators of works that had been sold to corporations to reclaim them after the original 56-year copyright term (but not the longer term enacted by the new legislation) had expired. Marvel Entertainment challenged the claim, arguing that the settlement of Simon's 1966 suit made the character ineligible for termination of the copyright transfer. Simon and Marvel settled out of court in 2003, in a deal that paid Simon royalties for merchandising and licensing use of the character.[50][51]

Fictional character biography

1940s

Steven Rogers was born in the 1920s in the Lower East Side of ManhattanNew York City, to poor Irish immigrants, Sarah and Joseph Rogers.[52] Joseph died when Steve was a child, and Sarah died of pneumonia while Steve was a teen. By early 1940, before America's entry into World War II, Rogers is a tall, scrawny fine arts student specializing in illustration, and a comic book writer and artist.

Disturbed by the rise of the Third Reich, Rogers attempts to enlist but is rejected due to his frail body. His resolution attracts the notice of U.S. Army General Chester Phillips and "Project: Rebirth." Rogers is used as a test subject for the Super-Soldier project, receiving a special serum made by "Dr. Josef Reinstein",[53][54] later retroactively changed to a code name for the scientist Abraham Erskine.[55] The name "Erskine" was first used in a Captain America novelThe Great Gold Steal by Ted White published by Bantam Books in 1968.

The serum is a success and transforms Steve Rogers into a nearly perfect human being with peak strength, agility, stamina, and intelligence. The success of the program leaves Erskine wondering about replicating the experiment on other human beings.[54] The process itself has been inconsistently detailed: while in the original material Rogers is shown receiving injections of the Super-Serum, when the origin was retold in the 1960s, the Comic Code Authority had already put a veto over graphic description of drug intake and abuse, and thus the Super-Serum was retconned into an oral formula.[56] Later accounts hint at a combination of oral and intravenous treatments with a strenuous training regimen, culminating in the Vita-Ray exposure.

Erskine refused to write down every crucial element of the treatment, leaving behind a flawed, imperfect knowledge of the steps. Thus, when the Nazi spy Heinz Kruger killed him, Erskine's method of creating new Super-Soldiers died. Captain America, in his first act after his transformation, avenges Erskine. In the 1941 origin story and in Tales of Suspense #63, Kruger dies when running into machinery but is not killed by Rogers; in the Captain America #109 and #255 revisions, Rogers causes the spy's death by punching him into machinery.[54]

Unable to create new Super-Soldiers and willing to hide the Project Rebirth fiasco, the American government casts Rogers as a patriotic superhero, able to counter the menace of the Red Skull as a counter-intelligence agent. He is supplied with a patriotic uniform of his own design,[52] a bulletproof shield, a personal side arm, and the codename Captain America, while posing as a clumsy infantry private at Camp Lehigh in Virginia. He forms a friendship with the camp's teenage mascot, James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes.[53]

Barnes learns of Rogers' dual identity and offers to keep the secret if he can become Captain America's sidekick. During their adventures, Franklin D. Roosevelt presents Captain America with a new shield, forged from an alloy of steel and vibranium, fused by an unknown catalyst, so effective that it replaces his own firearm.[55] Throughout World War II, Captain America and Bucky fight the Nazi menace both on their own and as members of the superhero team the Invaders as seen in the 1970s comic of the same name.[57]Captain America battles a number of criminal menaces on American soil, including a wide variety of costumed villains: the Wax Man,[58] the Hangman,[59] the Fang,[60] the Black Talon,[61] and the White Death,[62] among others.

In addition to Bucky, Captain America was occasionally assisted by the Sentinels of Liberty.[63] Sentinels of Liberty was the title given to members of the Captain America Comics fan club who Captain America sometimes addressed as an aside, or as characters in the Captain America Comics stories.

In late April 1945, during the closing days of World War II, Captain America and Bucky try to stop the villainous Baron Zemo from destroying an experimental drone plane. Zemo launches the plane with an armed explosive on it with Rogers and Barnes in hot pursuit. The pair reaches the plane just before take off. When Bucky tries to defuse the bomb, it explodes in mid-air. Rogers is hurled into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. Both are presumed dead, though it is later revealed that neither one died.[64]

Late 1940s to 1950s

Captain America appeared in comics for the next few years, changing from World War II-era hero fighting the Nazis to confronting the United States' newest enemy, Communism. The revival of the character in the mid-1950s was short-lived, and events during that time period are later retconned to show that multiple people operated using the code name to explain the changes in the character. These post World War II successors are listed as William Naslund and Jeffrey Mace.

The last of these other official Captains, William Burnside,[65] was a history graduate enamored with the Captain America mythos, having his appearance surgically altered to resemble Rogers and legally changing his name to "Steve Rogers", becoming the new "1950s Captain America".[66] He self-administered to himself and his pupil James "Jack" Monroe a flawed, incomplete copy of the Super-Serum, which made no mention about the necessary Vita-Ray portion of the treatment. As a result, while Burnside and Monroe became the new Captain America and Bucky, they became violently paranoid, often raving about innocent people being communist sympathizers during the height of the Red Scare of the 1950s. Their insanity forced the U.S. government to place them in indefinite cryogenic storage until they could be cured of their mental illness.[67] Monroe would later be cured and assume the Nomad identity.[68]

1960s to 1970s

Years later, the superhero team the Avengers discovers Steve Rogers' body in the North Atlantic. After he revives, they piece together that Rogers has been preserved in a block of ice since 1945, surviving because of his enhancements from Project: Rebirth. The block began to melt after the Sub-Mariner, enraged that an Inuit tribe is worshipping the frozen figure, throws it into the ocean.[64] Rogers accepts membership in the Avengers, and his experience in individual combat service and his time with the Invaders makes him a valuable asset. He quickly assumes leadership,[69] and has typically returned to that position throughout the team's history.

Captain America is plagued by guilt for having been unable to prevent Bucky's death. Although he takes the young Rick Jones (who closely resembles Bucky) under his tutelage, he refuses for some time to allow Jones to take up the Bucky identity, not wishing to be responsible for another youth's death. Insisting that his hero move on from that loss, Jones convinces Rogers to let him don the Bucky costume,[70] but this partnership lasts only a short time; a disguised Red Skull, impersonating Rogers with the help of the Cosmic Cube, drives Jones away.

Rogers reunites with his old war comrade Nick Fury, who is similarly well-preserved due to the "Infinity Formula." As a result, Rogers regularly undertakes missions for the security agency S.H.I.E.L.D. for which Fury is public director.[71]Through Fury, Rogers befriends Sharon Carter, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent,[72] with whom he eventually begins a romantic relationship.

Rogers later meets and trains Sam Wilson, who becomes the superhero the Falcon,[73] the first African-American superhero in mainstream comic books.[74][75] The characters established an enduring friendship and adventuring partnership, sharing the series title for some time as Captain America and the Falcon.[22] The two later encounter the revived but still insane 1950s Captain America.[66][67][76][77][78] Although Rogers and the Falcon defeat the faux Rogers and Jack Monroe, Rogers becomes deeply disturbed that he could have suffered his counterpart's fate. During this period, Rogers temporarily gains super strength.[79]

The series dealt with the Marvel Universe's version of the Watergate scandal,[80][81][82] making Rogers so uncertain about his role that he abandons his Captain America identity in favor of one called Nomad,[83] emphasizing the word's meaning as "man without a country". During this time, several men unsuccessfully assume the Captain America identity.[84] Rogers eventually re-assumes it after coming to consider that the identity could be a symbol of American ideals and not its government; it's a personal conviction epitomized when he later confronted a corrupt Army officer attempting to manipulate him by appealing to his loyalty, "I'm loyal to nothing, General ... except the [American] Dream." Jack Monroe, cured of his mental instability, later takes up the Nomad alias.[85] Sharon Carter is believed to have been killed while under the mind control of Dr. Faustus.[86]

1980s to 1990s

The 1980s included a run by writer Roger Stern and artist John Byrne. Stern had Rogers consider a run for President of the United States in Captain America #250 (June 1980),[87] an idea originally developed by Roger McKenzie andDon Perlin. Stern, in his capacity as editor of the title, originally rejected the idea but later changed his mind about the concept.[88][89] McKenzie and Perlin received credit for the idea on the letters page at Stern's insistence.[90] Stern additionally introduced a new love interest, law student Bernie Rosenthal, in Captain America #248 (Aug. 1980).[91]

Writer J. M. DeMatteis revealed the true face and full origin of the Red Skull in Captain America #298-300, and had Captain America take on Jack Monroe, Nomad, as a partner for a time.[85] Around this time, the heroes gathered by the Beyonder elect Rogers as leader during their stay on Battleworld in the 1984 miniseries Secret WarsHomophobia is dealt with as Rogers runs into a childhood friend named Arnold Roth who is gay.[92][93]

Mark Gruenwald became the writer of the series with issue #307 (July 1985) and wrote 137 issues for 10 consecutive years from until #443 (Sept. 1995),[94] the most issues by any single author in the character's history. Gruenwald created several new foes, including Crossbones and the Serpent Society. Other Gruenwald characters included Diamondback,[95] Super Patriot,[96] and Demolition Man.[97] Gruenwald explored numerous political and social themes as well, such as extreme idealism when Captain America fights the anti-nationalist terrorist Flag-Smasher;[98] and vigilantism when he hunts the murderous Scourge of the Underworld.[99]

Rogers receives a large back-pay reimbursement dating back to his disappearance at the end of World War II, and a government commission orders him to work directly for the U.S. government. Already troubled by the corruption he had encountered with the Nuke incident in New York City,[100] Rogers chooses instead to resign his identity,[101][102] and then takes the alias of "the Captain".[103] A replacement Captain America, John Walker, struggles to emulate Rogers' ideals until pressure from hidden enemies helps to drive Walker insane. Rogers returns to the Captain America identity[104] while a recovered Walker becomes the U.S. Agent.[105]

Sometime afterward, Rogers avoids the explosion of a methamphetamine lab, but the drug triggers a chemical reaction in the Super-Soldier serum in his system. To combat the reaction, Rogers has the serum removed from his body and trains constantly to maintain his physical condition.[106] A retcon later establishes that the serum was not a drug per se, which would have metabolized out of his system, but in fact a virus-like organism that effected a biochemical and genetic change. This additionally explained how nemesis the Red Skull, who at the time inhabited a body cloned from Rogers' cells, has the formula in his body.

Because of his altered biochemistry, Rogers' body begins to deteriorate, and for a time he must wear a powered exoskeleton and is eventually placed again in suspended animation. During this time, he is given a transfusion of blood from the Red Skull, which cures his condition and stabilizes the Super-Soldier virus in his system. Captain America returns to crime fighting and the Avengers.[107][108]

Following Gruenwald's departure from the series, Mark Waid took over and resurrected Sharon Carter as Cap's love interest. The title was then relaunched under Rob Liefeld as Cap became part of the Heroes Reborn universe for 13 issues[109] before another relaunch restored Waid to the title[110] in an arc that saw Cap lose his shield for a time using an energy based shield as a temporary replacement. Following Waid's run, Dan Jurgens took over and introduced new foe Protocide, a failed recipient of the Super Soldier serum prior to the experiment that successfully created Rogers.

2000s

In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Rogers reveals his identity to the world and establishes a residence in the Red Hook neighborhood of BrooklynNew York, as seen in Captain America vol. 4, #1-7 (June 2002 – Feb. 2003).[111] Following the disbandment of the Avengers in the "Avengers Disassembled" story arc, Rogers, now employed by S.H.I.E.L.D., discovers Bucky is alive, having been saved and deployed by the Soviets as the Winter Soldier. Rogers resumes his on-again, off-again relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter.

In the 2006–2007 company-wide story arc "Civil War", and its anchoring, seven-issue miniseries, Civil War (July 2006 - Jan. 2007), Rogers opposes the new mandatory federal registration of super-powered beings, and leads the underground anti-registration movement. After significant rancor and danger to the public as the two sides clash, Captain America voluntarily surrenders and orders the Anti-Registration forces to stand down.

In the story arc "The Death of Captain America", Rogers is indicted on criminal charges for his anti-registration efforts, and in Captain America vol. 5, #25 (April 2007) is shot outside a federal courthouse; taken to a hospital, he is pronounced dead.[112] The assassination, orchestrated by the Red Skull, involves Crossbones as a sniper and Dr. Faustus, who poses as a S.H.I.E.L.D. psychiatrist and gives Carter a hypnotic suggestion to surreptitiously shoot Rogers at close range during the chaos surrounding the sniper shot.

The miniseries Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #1-5 (June–Aug. 2007) follows the stunned superhero community after the apparent assassination. Captain America is purportedly laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, but Tony Stark (Iron Man) and others have actually returned Rogers' body to the Arctic where Rogers had been found years before, and whereupon Namor swore to guard him. In Captain America vol. 5, #30 (Sept. 2007), Stark, who previously had tried to convince close friend and colleague of both Rogers and Stark, Clint Barton to take up the role, receives a letter containing Rogers' request that Bucky become the next Captain America, which Bucky agrees to do four issues later. Adopting the original shield, he dons a new costume incorporating a pistol and a knife. The Norse god superhero Thor communicates with what appears to be Rogers' spirit on the first anniversary of Rogers' death, in Thor vol. 3, #11 (Oct. 2008).

Captain America: Reborn #1 (Aug. 2009) reveals that Rogers did not die, and that the gun Sharon Carter had been hypnotized to use had caused Rogers to phase in and out of space and time, appearing at events in his lifetime and fighting battles. The Skull returns Rogers to the present, where he takes control of Rogers' mind and body. Rogers eventually regains control, and with help from his allies, defeats the Skull in the fourth and final issues of this miniseries. In the subsequent one-shot comic Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield?, Rogers formally grants Bucky his Captain America shield and asks his former sidekick to continue as Captain America. The American President grants Rogers a full pardon for his anti-registration actions.

2010s

Following the company-wide "Dark Reign" and "Siege" story arcs, the Steve Rogers character became part of the "Heroic Age" arc.[113]

The U.S. president appoints Rogers, in his civilian identity, as "America's top cop" and head of the nation's security,[114] replacing Norman Osborn as the tenth Executive Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The Superhuman Registration Act is repealed and Rogers re-establishes the superhero team the Avengers, spearheaded by Iron Man, Thor, and Bucky as Captain America.[volume & issue needed] In the miniseries Steve Rogers: Super Soldier, he encounters Jacob Erskine, the grandson of Professor Abraham Erskine and the son of Tyler Paxton, one of Rogers' fellow volunteers in the Super-Soldier program.[volume & issue needed] Shortly afterward, Rogers becomes leader of the Secret Avengers, a black-ops superhero team.[volume & issue needed]

During the Fear Itself storyline, Steve Rogers is present when the threat of the Serpent is known.[115] Following the apparent death of Bucky at the hands of Sin (in the form of Skadi), Steve Rogers ends up changing into his Captain America uniform.[116] When the Avengers and the New Avengers are fighting Skadi, the Serpent ends up joining the battle and breaks Captain America's shield with his bare hands.[117] Captain America and the Avengers teams end up forming a militia for a last stand against the forces of the Serpent.[118] When it comes to the final battle, Captain America uses Thor's hammer to fight Skadi until Thor manages to kill the Serpent. In the aftermath of the battle, Iron Man presents him with his reforged shield, now stronger for its uru-infused enhancements despite the scar it bears.[119] It is then revealed that Captain America, Nick Fury, and Black Widow are the only ones who know that Bucky actually survived the fight with Skadi as Bucky resumes his identity as Winter Soldier.[120]

In the Avengers vs. X-Men story arc, Captain America attempts to apprehend Hope Summers of the X-Men. She is the targeted vessel for the Phoenix Force, a destructive cosmic entity. Captain America believes that this Phoenix Force is too dangerous to entrust in one person and seeks to prevent Hope from having it. Cyclops and the X-Men believe that the Phoenix Force will save their race, and oppose Captain America's wishes.[121] The result is a series of battles that eventually take both teams to the blue area of the moon.[122] The Phoenix Force eventually possesses the five X-Men present, leaving the Avengers at an extreme disadvantage.[123] The Phoenix Five, who become corrupted by the power of the Phoenix, are eventually defeated and scattered, with Cyclops imprisoned for turning the world into a police state and murdering Charles Xavier after being pushed too far, only for him to note that, in the end, he was proven right about the Phoenix's intentions.[124] From there, Captain America proceeds to assemble the Avengers Unity Squad, a new team of Avengers composed of both classic Avengers and X-Men.[125]

After Cyclops was incarcerated, and Steve accepted the Avengers should've done more to help mutants, and allowed the world to hate them, he started planning a new sub-team of Avengers in the hopes of unifying mutant and humankind alike. He chose Havok to lead his team and become the new face to represent mutants as Professor X and Cyclops once were.[volume & issue needed]

Their first threat was the return of Red Skull, who usurped Professor X's body to provide himself with telepathic powers, which he would use to provoke citizens of New York into a mass assault against mutants, or anyone who could be one, and force Scarlet Witchand Rogue to allow themselves to be attacked. With the help of the S-Man Honest John, he managed to even manipulate Thor.[volume & issue needed]

However, Red Skull's skills where still erratic, and couldn't completely control Captain America, an attack against him was enough of a distraction to lose control on Rogue and Scarlet Witch. After being overpowered by the rest of the Uncanny Avengers, Red Skull decided to escape, but promises to return. In the aftermath, both Rogue and Scarlet Witch joined the team.[volume & issue needed]

During a battle with an enemy called the Iron Nail, the Super-Soldier Serum within Rogers's body was neutralized, causing him to age rapidly to match his chronological age of over 90.[126] No longer able to take part in field missions but retaining his sharp mind, Rogers decided to take on a role as mission co-ordinator, organizing the Avengers' plans of attack from the mansion, while appointing Sam Wilson as his official 'replacement' as Captain America.[127] However, when various Avengers and X-Men were inverted into villains and several villains inverted into heroism due to a miscast spell by the Scarlet Witch and Doctor Doom,[128] Rogers not only coordinated the efforts of Spider-Man and the inverted villains, now called the "Astonishing Avengers",[129] but also donned his old armor to battle the inverted Falcon,[130] until the heroes and villains could be returned to normal with the aid of the White Skull (The inverted Red Skull).[131]

Powers and abilities

Captain America has no superhuman powers, but through the Super-Soldier Serum and "Vita-Ray" treatment, he is transformed and his strength, endurance, agility, speed, reflexes, durability, and healing are at the zenith of natural human potential. Rogers' body regularly replenishes the super-soldier serum; it does not wear off.[106]

The formula enhances all of his metabolic functions and prevents the build-up of fatigue poisons in his muscles, giving him endurance far in excess of an ordinary human being. This accounts for many of his extraordinary feats, including bench pressing 1200 pounds (545 kg) and running a mile (1.6 km) in 73 seconds (49 mph/78 kph).[132] Furthermore, his enhancements are the reason why he was able to survive being frozen in suspended animation for decades. He is highly resistant to hypnosis or gases that could limit his focus.[133] The secrets of creating a super-soldier were lost with the death of its creator, Dr. Abraham Erskine.[56] In the ensuing decades there have been numerous attempts to recreate Erskine's treatment, only to have them end in failure. Even worse, the attempts have instead often created psychopathic supervillains of which Captain America's 1950s imitator and Nuke are the most notorious examples.

Rogers' battle experience and training make him an expert tactician and an excellent field commander, with his teammates frequently deferring to his orders in battle. Thor has stated that Rogers is one of the very few humans he will take orders from and follow "through the gates of Hades."[134] Rogers' reflexes and senses are extraordinarily keen. He has blended judowestern boxingkickboxing, and gymnastics into his own unique fighting style and is a master of multiple martial arts. Years of practice with his near-indestructible shield make him able to aim and throw it with almost unerring accuracy. His skill with his shield is such that he can attack multiple targets in succession with a single throw or even cause a boomerang-like return from a throw to attack an enemy from behind. In canon, he is regarded by other skilled fighters as one of the best hand-to-hand combatants in the Marvel Universe, limited only by his human physique.[135][136] Although the super-soldier serum is an important part of his strength, Rogers has shown himself still sufficiently capable against stronger opponents, even when the serum has been deactivated reverting him to his pre-Captain America physique.[137]

Rogers has vast U.S. military knowledge and is often shown to be familiar with ongoing, classified Defense Department operations. He is an expert in combat strategy, survival, acrobatics, military strategy, piloting, and demolitions. Despite his high profile as one of the world's most popular and recognizable superheroes, Rogers has a broad understanding of the espionage community, largely through his ongoing relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. He is a talented artist, and has worked on the Captain America comic book published in the Marvel universe. Other career fields include commercial arts, teaching high school history, and law enforcement.

Although he lacks superhuman strength, Captain America is one of the few mortal beings who has been deemed worthy enough to wield Thor's hammer Mjolnir.[138]

Weapons and equipment

Further information: Captain America's shield

Captain America has used multiple shields throughout his history, the most prevalent of which is a nigh-indestructible disc-shaped shield made from an experimental alloy of steel and the fictional vibranium.[139][140] The shield was cast by American metallurgist Dr. Myron MacLain, who was contracted by the U.S. government, from orders of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to create an impenetrable substance to use for tanks during World War II.[139] This alloy was created by accident and never duplicated, although efforts to reverse-engineer it resulted in the discovery of adamantium.[141]

Captain America often uses his shield as an offensive throwing weapon. The first instance of Captain America's trademark ricocheting shield-toss occurs in Stan Lee's first comics writing, the two-page text story "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge" in Captain America Comics #3 (May 1941).[12] The legacy of the shield among other comics characters includes the time-traveling mutant superhero Cable telling Captain America that his shield still exists in one of the possible futures; Cable carries it into battle and brandishes it as a symbol.[142]

When without his trademark shield, Captain America sometimes uses other shields made from less durable metals such as steel,[143] or even a photonic energy shield designed to mimic a vibranium matrix.[144] Rogers, having relinquished his regular shield to Barnes, carried a variant of the energy shield which can be used with either arm, and used to either block attacks or as an improvised offensive weapon able to cut through metal with relative ease.[145] Much like his vibranium shield, the energy shield can be thrown, including ricocheting off multiple surfaces and returning to his hand.[146]

Captain America's uniform is made of a fire-retardant material, and he wears a lightweight, bulletproof duralumin scale armor beneath his uniform for added protection.[55] Originally, Rogers' mask was a separate piece of material, but an early engagement had it dislodged, thus almost exposing his identity. To prevent a recurrence of the situation, Rogers modified the mask with connecting material to his uniform, an added benefit of which was extending his armor to cover his previously exposed neck. As a member of the Avengers, Rogers has an Avengers priority card, which serves as a communications device.

Captain America has used a custom specialized motorcycle, modified by the S.H.I.E.L.D. weapons laboratory, as well as a custom-built battle van, constructed by the Wakanda Design Group with the ability to change its color for disguise purposes (red, white and blue), and fitted to store and conceal the custom motorcycle in its rear section with a frame that allows Rogers to launch from the vehicle riding it.

Enemies

Captain America has faced numerous foes in over 70 years of published adventures. Many of his recurring foes embody ideals contrary to the American values that Captain America is shown to strive for and believe. Some examples of these opposing values are Nazism (Red SkullBaron Zemo), Neo-Nazism (CrossbonesDoctor Faustus), technocratic fascism (AIMArnim Zola), Communism (Aleksander Lukin), anarchism (Flag Smasher), and international and domestic terrorism (HYDRA).

 

The Hulk is a fictional superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962). Throughout his comic book appearances, the Hulk is portrayed as a large green humanoid that possesses limitless superhuman strength and great invulnerability, attributes that grow more potent the angrier he becomes. Hulk is the alter ego of Bruce Banner, a socially withdrawn and emotionally reserved physicist who physically transforms into the Hulk under emotional stress and other specific circumstances at will or against it; these involuntary transformations lead to many complications in Banner's life. When transformed, the Hulk often acts as a disassociated personality separate from Banner. Over the decades of Hulk stories, the Hulk has been represented with several personalities based on Hulk and Banner's fractured psyche, ranging from mindless savage to brilliant warrior, and Banner has taken control of the Hulk's form on occasion. Banner first transforms into the Hulk after being caught in the blast of the gamma bomb he invented while saving Rick Jones, a youth who had wandered onto the testing range.

Lee said that the Hulk's creation was inspired by a combination of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.[5] Although the Hulk's coloration has varied throughout the character's publication history, the most usual color is green. As a child, Banner's father Brian Banner often got mad and physically abused his mother Rebecca, creating the psychological complex of fear, anger, and the fear of anger and the destruction it can cause that underlies the character. A common storyline is the pursuit of both Banner and the Hulk by the U.S. armed forces, because of all the destruction that he causes. He has two main catchphrases: "Hulk is strongest one there is!" and the better-known "HULK SMASH!", which has founded the basis for numerous pop culture memes.

The character has been portrayed in multiple media features by different actors. Hulk was first portrayed in film played by Eric Bana in Ang Lee's Hulk (2003). Subsequently, the character has been portrayed in theMarvel Cinematic Universe initially by Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk (2008) and by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), as well as both parts of Avengers: Infinity War(2018/2019). In 2011, the Hulk placed No. 9 on IGN's list of Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.[6]

Concept and creation

The Hulk first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #1 (cover dated May 1962), written by writer-editor Stan Lee, penciled and co-plotted by Jack Kirby,[7] and inked by Paul Reinman. Lee cites influence fromFrankenstein[8] and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the Hulk's creation:

It was patently apparent that [the monstrous character the] Thing was the most popular character in [Marvel's recently created superhero team the] Fantastic Four.... For a long time I'd been aware of the fact that people were more likely to favor someone who was less than perfect.... It's a safe bet that you remember Quasimodo, but how easily can you name any of the heroic, handsomer, more glamorous characters in The Hunchback of Notre Dame? And then there's Frankenstein... I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Frankenstein monster. No one could ever convince me that he was the bad guy.... He never wanted to hurt anyone; he merely groped his torturous way through a second life trying to defend himself, trying to come to terms with those who sought to destroy him. ... I decided I might as well borrow from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well — our protagonist would constantly change from his normal identity to his superhuman alter ego and back again.[9]

Jack Kirby has commented upon his influences in drawing the character, recalling as inspiration the tale of a mother who rescues her child who is trapped beneath a car.[10] Lee has also compared Hulk to the Golemof Jewish mythology.[8] In The Science of Superheroes, Gresh and Weinberg see the Hulk as a reaction to the Cold War[11] and the threat of nuclear attack, an interpretation shared by Weinstein in Up, Up and Oy Vey.[8] This interpretation corresponds well when taken into account alongside other popularized fictional media created during this time period, which took advantage of the prevailing sense among Americans that nuclear power could produce monsters and mutants.[12]

In the debut, Lee chose gray for the Hulk because he wanted a color that did not suggest any particular ethnic group.[13] Colorist Stan Goldberg, however, had problems with the gray coloring, resulting in different shades of grey, and even green, in the issue. After seeing the first published issue, Lee chose to change the skin color to green.[14] Green was used in retellings of the origin, with even reprints of the original story being recolored for the next two decades, until The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #302 (December 1984) reintroduced the gray Hulk in flashbacks set close to the origin story. Since then, reprints of the first issue have displayed the original gray coloring, with the fictional canon specifying that the Hulk's skin had initially been grey. An exception is the early trade paperback, Origins of Marvel Comics, from 1974, which explains the difficulties in keeping the gray color consistent in a Stan Lee written prologue, and reprints the origin story keeping the gray coloration.

Lee gave the Hulk's alter ego the alliterative name Bruce Banner because he found he had less difficulty remembering alliterative names. Despite this, in later stories he misremembered the character's name and referred to him as "Bob Banner", an error which readers quickly picked up on.[15] The discrepancy was resolved by giving the character the official full name of Robert Bruce Banner.

Publication

The Hulk's original series was canceled with issue #6 (March 1963). Lee had written each story, with Kirby penciling the first five issues and Steve Ditko penciling and inking the sixth. The character immediately guest-starred in The Fantastic Four #12 (March 1963), and months later became a founding member of the superhero team the Avengers, appearing in the first two issues of the team's eponymous series (Sept. and Nov. 1963), and returning as an antagonist in issue #3 and as an ally in #5 (Jan.–May 1964). He then guest-starred in Fantastic Four #25–26 (April–May 1964), which revealed Banner's full name as Robert Bruce Banner, and The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964).[16]

Around this time, co-creator Kirby received a letter from a college dormitory stating the Hulk had been chosen as its official mascot.[8] Kirby and Lee realized their character had found an audience in college-age readers.

A year and a half after The Incredible Hulk was canceled, the Hulk became one of two features in Tales to Astonish, beginning in issue #60 (Oct. 1964).[17]

This new Hulk feature was initially scripted by Lee, with pencils by Steve Ditko and inks by George Roussos. Other artists later in this run included Jack Kirby (#68–87, June 1965 – Oct. 1966); Gil Kane (credited as "Scott Edwards", #76, (Feb. 1966)); Bill Everett (#78–84, April–Oct. 1966); John Buscema (#85–87); and Marie Severin. The Tales to Astonish run introduced the super-villains the Leader,[5] who would become the Hulk's nemesis, and the Abomination, another gamma-irradiated being.[5] Marie Severin finished out the Hulk's run in Tales to Astonish. Beginning with issue #102 (April 1968) the book was retitled The Incredible Hulk vol. 2,[18] and ran until 1999, when Marvel canceled the series and launched Hulk #1.

Len Wein wrote the series from 1974 through 1978, working first with Herb Trimpe, then, as of issue #194 (December 1975), with Sal Buscema, who was the regular artist for ten years.[19] Issues #180–181 (Oct.–Nov. 1974) introduced the character Wolverine as an antagonist,[20] who would go on to become one of Marvel Comics' most popular. In 1977, Marvel launched a second title, The Rampaging Hulk, a black-and-white comics magazine.[5]This was originally conceived as a flashback series, set between the end of his original, short-lived solo title and the beginning of his feature in Tales to Astonish.[21] After nine issues, the magazine was retitled The Hulk! and printed in color.[22]

In 1977 two Hulk television films were aired to strong ratings, leading to an Incredible Hulk TV series which aired from 1978 to 1982. A huge ratings success, the series introduced the popular Hulk catchphrase, "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry," and broadened the character's popularity from a niche comic book readership into the mainstream consciousness.[23]

Bill Mantlo became the series' writer for five years beginning with issue #245 (March 1980). Mantlo's "Crossroads of Eternity" stories (#300–313, Oct. 1984 – Nov. 1985) explored the idea that Banner had suffered child abuse. Later Hulk writers Peter David and Greg Pak have called these stories an influence on their approaches to the character.[24][25] Mantlo left the series for Alpha Flight and that series' writer John Byrne took over The Incredible Hulk.[26] The final issue of Byrne's six issue run featured the wedding of Bruce Banner and Betty Ross.[27] Writer Peter David began a twelve-year run with issue #331 (May 1987). He returned to the Roger Stern and Mantlo abuse storylines, expanding the damage caused, and depicting Banner as suffering dissociative identity disorder (DID).[5]

In 1998, David killed off Banner's long-time love Betty Ross. Marvel executives used Ross' death as an opportunity to pursue the return of the Savage Hulk. David disagreed, leading to his parting ways with Marvel.[28] Also in 1998, Marvel relaunched The Rampaging Hulk as a standard comic book rather than as a comics magazine.[5] The Incredible Hulk was again cancelled with issue #474 of its second volume in March 1999 and was replaced with new series, Hulk the following month, with returning writer Byrne and art by Ron Garney.[29][30] By issue #12 (March 2000), Hulk was retitled as The Incredible Hulk vol. 3[31] New series writer Paul Jenkins developed the Hulk's multiple personalities,[32] and his run was followed by Bruce Jones[33] with his run featuring Banner being pursued by a secret conspiracy and aided by the mysterious Mr. Blue. Jones appended his 43-issue Incredible Hulk run with the limited series Hulk/Thing: Hard Knocks #1–4 (Nov. 2004 – Feb. 2005), which Marvel published after putting the ongoing series on hiatus. Peter David, who had initially signed a contract for the six-issue Tempest Fugit limited series, returned as writer when it was decided to make that story the first five parts of the revived volume three.[34] After a four-part tie-in to the House of M crossover and a one-issue epilogue, David left the series once more, citing the need to do non-Hulk work for the sake of his career.[35]

Writer Greg Pak took over the series in 2006, leading the Hulk through several crossover storylines including "Planet Hulk" and "World War Hulk", which left the Hulk temporarily incapacitated and replaced as the series' title character by the demigod Hercules (Marvel Comics) in the retitled The Incredible Hercules (Feb. 2008). The Hulk returned periodically in Hulk, which then starred the new Red Hulk.[36] In September 2009, The Incredible Hulk was relaunched as The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #600.[36] The series was retitled The Incredible Hulks with issue #612 (Nov. 2010) to encompass the Hulk's expanded family, and ran until issue #635 (Oct. 2011) when it was replaced with The Incredible Hulk vol. 4, (15 issues, Dec. 2011 – Dec. 2012) written by Jason Aaron with art by Marc Silvestri.[37]As part of Marvel's Marvel NOW! relaunch, the Hulk's new title was The Indestructible Hulk (Nov. 2012) under the creative team of Mark Waid and Leinil Yu.[38] This series was replaced in 2014 with The Hulk by Waid and artist Mark Bagley.[39]

Fictional character biography[

During the experimental detonation of a gamma bomb, scientist Bruce Banner rushes to save teenager Rick Jones who has driven onto the testing field; Banner pushes Jones into a trench to save him, but is himself hit with the blast, absorbing massive amounts of gamma radiation. He awakens later in an infirmary, seeming relatively unscathed, but that night transforms into a lumbering grey form that breaks through the wall and escapes. A soldier in the ensuing search party dubs the otherwise unidentified creature a "hulk".[40] The original incarnation of Banner transformed into the Hulk at sunset and reverted at sunrise. Banner was cured in The Incredible Hulk #4, but chose to restore Hulk's powers with Banner's intelligence. The gamma-ray machine needed to affect the transformation-induced side effects that made Banner temporarily sick and weak when returned to his normal state.

In The Avengers #1 (September 1963), the Hulk became a founding member of the title's eponymous superhero team. However, by The Avengers #3, overuse of the gamma ray machine rendered the Hulk as an uncontrollable, rampaging monster, subject to spontaneous changing. In Tales to Astonish #59 (September 1964) the Hulk appeared as an antagonist for Giant-Man. The series established stress as the trigger for Banner turning into the Hulk and vice versa.[41] It was during this time that the Hulk developed a more savage and childlike personality, shifting from the brutish figure who spoke in complete sentences and his memory, both long-term and short-term, was markedly impaired in his Hulk state. In Tales to Astonish #77 (March 1966), Banner's and the Hulk's dual identity became publicly known when Glenn Talbot, Banner's romantic rival for Betty Ross, witnessed his transformation, turning Banner into a wanted fugitive.

The 1970s saw Banner and Betty nearly marry in The Incredible Hulk #124 (Feb. 1970).[42] Betty ultimately married Talbot in issue #158 (Dec. 1972).[43] Hulk also traveled to other dimensions, one of which had him meet empress Jarella, who used magic to bring Banner’s intelligence to Hulk, and came to love him. Hulk helped to form the Defenders.[44]

In the 1980s, Banner finally married Betty in The Incredible Hulk #319 (May 1986) following Talbot's death in 1981.[27][45] It was also established that Banner had serious mental problems even before he became the Hulk, having suffered childhood traumas that engendered Bruce's repressed rage.[46] Banner comes to terms with his issues for a time, and Hulk and Banner were physically separated by Doc Samson.[47][48] Banner is recruited by the U.S. government to create the Hulkbusters, a government team dedicated to catching Hulk. Banner and Hulk were reunited in The Incredible Hulk #323 (Sep. 1986)[49] and with issue #324, returned the Hulk to his grey coloration, with his transformations once again occurring at night, regardless of Banner's emotional state. In issue #347 the grey Hulk persona "Joe Fixit" was introduced, a morally ambiguous Las Vegas enforcer and tough guy. Banner remained repressed in Hulk's mind for months, but slowly began to reappear.

The 1990s saw the Green Hulk return.[50] In issue #377 (Jan. 1991), the Hulk was revamped in a storyline that saw the personalities of Banner, Grey Hulk, and Savage Hulk confront Banner's past abuse at the hands of his father Brian and a new "Guilt Hulk" persona. Overcoming the trauma, the intelligent Banner, cunning Grey Hulk, and powerful Savage Hulk personalities merge into a new single entity possessing the traits of all three. The Hulk also joined the Pantheon, a secretive organization of superpowered individuals.[51][52] His tenure with the organization brought Hulk into conflict with a tyrannical alternate future version of himself called the Maestro in the 1993 Future Imperfect miniseries, who rules over a world where many heroes are dead.

In 2000, Banner and the three Hulks (Savage Hulk, Grey Hulk, and the "Merged Hulk", now considered a separate personality and referred to as the Professor) become able to mentally interact with one another, each personality taking over the shared body as Banner began to weaken due to his suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. During this, the four personalities (including Banner) confronted yet another submerged personality, a sadistic "Devil" intent on attacking the world and attempting to break out of Banner's fracturing psyche, but the Devil was eventually locked away again when the Leader was able to devise a cure for the disease using genes taken from the corpse of Brian Banner.[32] In 2005, it is revealed that the supernatural character Nightmare has manipulated the Hulk for years, and it is implied that some or all of the Hulk's adventures written by Bruce Jones may have been just illusion.[53] In 2006, the Illuminati decide the Hulk is too dangerous to remain on Earth and send him away by rocket ship which crashes on Planet Sakaar ushering in the Planet Hulk storyline that saw Hulk find allies in the Warbound, and marry alien queen Caiera, a relationship that was later revealed to have born him two sons: Skaar and Hiro-Kala. After the Illuminati's ship explodes and kills Caiera, Hulk returns to Earth with his superhero group Warbound and declares war on the planet in World War Hulk (2007).

In the 2010s Hiro-Kala traveled to Earth to destroy the OldStrong Power wielded by Skaar, forcing Skaar and the Hulk to defeat and imprison him within his home planet.[54] Banner also willingly joined the spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D., allowing them to use Hulk as a weapon in exchange for providing him with the means and funding to create a lasting legacy for himself.[55]

During the Original Sin storyline, Bruce Banner confronted by the eye of the murdered Uatu the Watcher. Bruce temporarily experienced some of Tony Stark's memories of their first meeting before either of them became the Hulk or Iron Man. During this vision, Bruce witnessed Tony modifying the gamma bomb to be more effective prompting Bruce to realize that Tony was essentially responsible for him becoming the Hulk in the first place.[56] Subsequent research reveals that Tony's tampering had actually refined the bomb's explosive potential so that it would not disintegrate everyone within the blast radius, with the result that Tony's actions had actually saved Bruce's life.[57]

In the wake of the conclusion of World War Hate as seen in the AXIS storyline, when a mistake made by the Scarlet Witch caused various heroes and villains to experience a moral inversion, Bruce Banner attended a meeting between Nick Fury Jr. and Maria Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers who refused to turn over Red Skull. Later when he sided with Edwin Jarvis and tried to prevent his teammates from executing Red Skull, the Hulk was thrown aside by Luke Cage. Hulk's sorrow at his friends' betrayal awakened a new persona known as the bloodthirsty Kluh (described as the Hulk's Hulk, being the ruthless part of himself that even the Hulk repressed) with this new version easily defeating the Avengers, sneering that the Hulk they knew was nothing more than a "sad piece of 'Doc Green's' ID." Kluh then leaves to wreak havoc,[58] with Nova attempting to stop him after witnessing his rampage with the remaining good heroes.[59]

During the Secret Wars storyline, Hulk's Doc Green form took part in the incursion between Earth-616 and Earth-1610. Hulk's Doc Green form used the Fastball Special with Colossus to destroy the Triskelion.[60]

Personality

Bruce Banner

During his decades of publication, Banner has been portrayed differently, but common themes persist. Banner, a physicist, is sarcastic and seemingly very self-assured when he first appears in Incredible Hulk #1, but is also emotionally withdrawn in most fashions.[5]Banner designed the gamma bomb which caused his affliction, and the ironic twist of his self-inflicted fate has been one of the most persistent common themes.[8] Arie Kaplan describes the character thus: "Bruce Banner lives in a constant state of panic, always wary that the monster inside him will erupt, and therefore he can’t form meaningful bonds with anyone."[61] As a child, Banner's father Brian often got mad and physically abused both Banner and his mother, creating the psychological complex of fear, anger, and the fear of anger and the destruction it can cause that underlies the character.

His fractured personality led to transformations into different versions of the Hulk. These transformations are usually involuntary, and often writers have tied the transformation to emotional triggers, such as rage and fear. Writers have adapted the Hulk, changing Hulk's personality to reflect changes in Banner's physiology or psyche. Banner has been shown to be emotionally repressed, but capable of deep love for Betty Ross, and for solving problems posed to him. Under the writing of Paul Jenkins, Banner was shown to be a capable fugitive, applying deductive reasoning and observation to figure out the events transpiring around him. On the occasions that Banner has controlled the Hulk's body, he has applied principles of physics to problems and challenges and used deductive reasoning. It was shown after his ability to turn into the Hulk was taken away by the Red Hulk that Banner has been extremely versatile as well as cunning when dealing with the many situations that followed. When he was briefly separated from the Hulk by Doom, Banner became criminally insane, driven by his desire to regain the power of the Hulk, but once the two recombined he came to accept that he was a better person with the Hulk to provide something for him to focus on controlling rather than allowing his intellect to run without restraint against the world.[62]

Hulk

The original version of Hulk was often shown as simple and quick to anger.[63] The Hulk generally divorces his identity from Banner’s, decrying Banner as "that puny weakling in the picture."[40] From his earliest stories, the Hulk has been concerned with finding sanctuary and quiet[8] and often is shown reacting emotionally to situations quickly. Grest and Weinberg call Hulk the "dark, primordial side of Banner's psyche."[11] Even in the earliest appearances, Hulk spoke in the third person. Hulk retains a modest intelligence, thinking and talking in full sentences, and Lee even gives the Hulk expository dialogue in issue six, allowing readers to learn just what capabilities Hulk has, when the Hulk says, "But these muscles ain't just for show! All I gotta do is spring up and just keep goin'!"

In the 1970s, Hulk was shown as more prone to anger and rage, and less talkative. Writers played with the nature of his transformations,[64] briefly giving Banner control over the change, and the ability to maintain control of his Hulk form.

Artistically and conceptually, the character has become progressively more muscular and powerful in the years since his debut.[65]

Powers and abilities

As Bruce Banner

Banner is considered one of the greatest scientific minds on Earth, possessing "a mind so brilliant it cannot be measured on any known intelligence test."[66] He holds expertise in biology, chemistry, engineering, physiology, and nuclear physics. Using this knowledge, Banner creates advanced technology dubbed "Bannertech", which is on par with technological development from Tony Stark or Doctor Doom. Some of these technologies include a force field that can protect him from the attacks of Hulk-level entities, and ateleporter.

As Hulk

The Hulk possesses the potential for immense and seemingly limitless physical strength depending directly on his emotional state, particularly his anger.[67] This has been reflected in the repeated comment, "The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets." The cosmically-powerful entity known as the Beyonder once analyzed the Hulk's physiology, and claimed that the Hulk's potential strength had "no finite element inside."[68] Hulk's strength has been depicted as sometimes limited by Banner's subconscious influence; when Jean Grey psionically "shut Banner off", Hulk became strong enough to overpower and destroy the physical form of the villain Onslaught.[69] Writer Greg Pak described the Worldbreaker Hulk shown during World War Hulk as having a level of physical power where "Hulk was stronger than any mortal—and most immortals—who ever walked the Earth."[70] His strength allows him to leap into lower Earth orbit or across continents,[71][72] and he has displayed superhuman speed.[73][74]

His durability, regeneration, and endurance also increase in proportion to his temper.[75] Hulk is resistant to injury or damage, though the degree to which varies between interpretations, but he has withstood the equivalent of solar temperatures,[76][77] nuclear explosions,[73][78][79][80] and planet-shattering impacts.[81][82][83] Despite his remarkable resiliency, continuous barrages of high-caliber gunfire can hinder his movement to some degree while he can be temporarily subdued with intense attacks with chemical weapons such as anesthetic gases, although any interruption of such dosages will allow him to quickly recover.[84] He has been shown to have both regenerative and adaptive healing abilities, including growing tissues to allow him to breathe underwater,[85] surviving unprotected in space for extended periods,[86] and when injured, healing from most wounds within seconds, including, on one occasion, the complete destruction of most of his body mass.[87][88] As an effect, he has an extremely prolonged lifespan.[89]

He also possesses less commonly described powers, including abilities allowing him to "home in" to his place of origin in New Mexico;[90] resist psychic control,[91][92][93][94] or unwilling transformation;[95][96][97] grow stronger from radiation[79][80][98][99][100] or dark magic;[101][102] punch his way between separate temporal[103][104] or spatial[105] dimensions; and to see and interact with astral forms.[102][106] Some of these abilities were in later years explained as being related; his ability to home in on the New Mexico bomb site was due to his latent ability to sense astral forms and spirits, since the bomb site was also the place where the Maestro's skeleton was and Maestro's spirit was calling out to him in order to absorb his radiation.[88] The Hulk is also able to generate omnidirectional bursts of kinetic energy that are powerful enough to completely destroy the planet he is standing on.[100][107]

In the first Hulk comic series, "massive" doses of gamma rays would cause the Hulk to transform back to Banner, although this ability was written out of the character by the 1970s.

Supporting characters

Main article: List of Hulk supporting characters

Over the long publication history of the Hulk's adventures, many recurring characters have featured prominently, including his best friend and sidekick Rick Jones, love interest and wife Betty Ross and her father, the often adversarial General "Thunderbolt" Ross. Both Banner and Hulk have families created in their respective personas. Banner is son to Brian, an abusive father who killed Banner's mother while she tried to protect her son from his father's delusional attacks, and cousin to Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk, who serves as his frequent ally.[108] Banner had a stillborn child with Betty, while the Hulk has two sons with his deceased second wife Caiera Oldstrong, Skaar and Hiro-Kala, and his DNA was used to create a daughter named Lyra with Thundra the warrior woman.[109]

The Fantastic Four #12 (March 1963), featured the Hulk's first battle with the Thing. Although many early Hulk stories involve General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross trying to capture or destroy the Hulk, the main villain is often a radiation-based character, like theGargoyle or the Leader, along with other foes such as the Toad Men, or Asian warlord General Fang. Ross' daughter Betty loves Banner and criticizes her father for pursuing the Hulk. General Ross' right-hand man, Major Glenn Talbot, also loves Betty and is torn between pursuing Hulk and trying to gain Betty's love more honorably. Rick Jones serves as the Hulk's friend and sidekick in these early tales. The Hulk's archenemies are the Abomination and the Leader. The Abomination is more monstrous and wreaks havoc for fun and pleasure. The Leader is a super-genius who has tried plan after plan to take over the world.

Other characters named Hulk

Prior to the debut of the Hulk in May 1962, Marvel had earlier monster characters that used the name "Hulk", but had no direct relation.

  • Debuting in Strange Tales #75 (June 1960), was a huge robot built by Albert Poole called the Hulk, which was actually armor that Poole would wear. In modern day reprints the character's name was changed to Grutan.[110]
  • First appearing in Journey Into Mystery #62 (Nov. 1960) was Xemnu the Living Hulk, a huge, furry alien monster.[111] The character reappeared in issue #66 (March 1961). Since then the character has been a mainstay in the Marvel Universe, and was renamedXemnu the Titan.[112]
  • A huge, orange, slimy monster was featured in a movie called The Hulk in Tales to Astonish #21 (July 1961). In modern-day reprints the character's name was changed to the Glop.[113]

Other versions

Main article: Alternative versions of the Hulk

In addition to his mainstream incarnation, Hulk has also been depicted in other fictional universes, in which Bruce Banner's transformation, behavior, or circumstances vary from the mainstream setting. In some stories, someone other than Bruce Banner is the Hulk.

Hulk: Chapter One[114]

In the Hulk 1999 Annual, writer John Byrne revised the Hulk's origin, much like his Spider-Man: Chapter One. In the revised origin, the gamma bomb that was being tested is now a gamma laser, and a skrull was responsible for Rick Jones' presence on the base during the gamma test. The skrull also disguised himself as Igor Rasminsky (Drenkov in the original stories), a fellow scientist working on the project. The contemporary setting removes the Cold War context of the original story, and serves as a tie-in to the Marvel: The Lost Generation maxi-series created by Roger Stern and Byrne, which also brought the origins of many Marvel characters out of the 1960s and into contemporary times. [115]

The storyline is currently designated as set on Earth-9992, and is not part of mainstream Marvel continuity (Earth-616).[116]

Cultural impact

See also: Hulk in other media

The Hulk character and the concepts behind it have been raised to the level of iconic status by many within and outside the comic book industry. In 2003, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine claimed the character had "stood the test of time as a genuine icon of American pop culture."[117] In 2008, Wizard magazine named the Hulk as the seventh-greatest Marvel Comics character.[118] Empire magazine named him as the 14th-greatest comic-book character and the fifth-greatest Marvel character.[119]

Analysis

The Hulk is often viewed as a reaction to war. As well as being a reaction to the Cold War, the character has been a cipher for the frustrations the Vietnam War raised, and Ang Lee said that the Iraq War influenced his direction.[11][120][121] In the Michael Nymanedited edition of The Guardian, Stefanie Diekmann explored Marvel Comics' reaction to the September 11 attacks. Diekmann discussed The Hulk's appearance in the 9/11 tribute comic Heroes, claiming that his greater prominence, alongside Captain America, aided in "stressing the connection between anger and justified violence without having to depict anything more than a well-known and well-respected protagonist."[122] In Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest ComicsLes Daniels addresses the Hulk as an embodiment of cultural fears of radiation and nuclear science. He quotes Jack Kirby thus: "As long as we're experimenting with radioactivity, there's no telling what may happen, or how much our advancements in science may cost us." Daniels continues, "The Hulk became Marvel's most disturbing embodiment of the perils inherent in the atomic age."[123]

In Comic Book Nation, Bradford Wright alludes to Hulk's counterculture status, referring to a 1965 Esquire magazine poll amongst college students which "revealed that student radicals ranked Spider-Man and the Hulk alongside the likes of Bob Dylan and Che Guevara as their favorite revolutionary icons." Wright goes on to cite examples of his anti-authority symbol status. Two of these are "The Ballad of the Hulk" by Jerry Jeff Walker, and the Rolling Stone cover for September 30, 1971, a full color Herb Trimpe piece commissioned for the magazine.[64][124] The Hulk has been caricatured in such animated television series as The Simpsons,[125] Robot Chicken, and Family Guy,[126] and such comedy TV series as The Young Ones.[127] The character is also used as a cultural reference point for someone displaying anger or agitation. For example, in a 2008 Daily Mirror review of an EastEnders episode, a character is described as going "into Incredible Hulk mode, smashing up his flat."[128] The Hulk, especially his alter-ego Bruce Banner, is also a common reference in rap music. The term was represented as an analogue to marijuana in Dr. Dre's 2001,[129] while more conventional references are made in Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri's popular single "Welcome to Atlanta".[130]

The 2003 Ang Lee directed Hulk film saw discussion of the character's appeal to Asian Americans.[131] The Taiwanese-born Ang Lee commented on the "subcurrent of repression" that underscored the character of The Hulk, and how that mirrored his own experience: "Growing up, my artistic leanings were always repressed—there was always pressure to do something 'useful,' like being a doctor." Jeff Yang, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, extended this self-identification to Asian American culture, arguing that "the passive-aggressive streak runs deep among Asian Americans—especially those who have entered creative careers, often against their parents' wishes."[132]

There have been explorations about the real world possibility of Hulk's gamma-radiation based origin. In The Science of Superheroes, Lois Grest and Robert Weinberg examined Hulk’s powers, explaining the scientific flaws in them. Most notably, they point out that the level of gamma radiation Banner is exposed to at the initial blast would induce radiation sickness and kill him, or if not, create significant cancer risks for Banner, because hard radiation strips cells of their ability to function. They go on to offer up an alternate origin, in which a Hulk might be created by biological experimentation with adrenal glands and GFP. Charles Q. Choi from LiveScience.com further explains that unlike the Hulk, gamma rays are not green; existing as they do beyond the visible spectrum, gamma rays have no color at all that we can describe. He also explains that gamma rays are so powerful (the most powerful form of electromagnetic radiation and 10,000 times more powerful than visible light) that they can even convert energy into matter – a possible explanation for the increased mass that Bruce Banner takes on during transformations. "Just as the Incredible Hulk 'is the strongest one there is,' as he says himself, so too are gamma ray bursts the most powerful explosions known."[133]

Black Widow 

(RussianЧёрная вдоваtranslit. Chyornaya Vdova) (Natalia Alianovna "Natasha" Romanova,[1] also known as Natasha Romanoff) is a fictional superhero appearing in comic books published byMarvel Comics. Created by editor and plotter Stan Lee, scripter Don Rico, and artist Don Heck, the character first appeared in Tales of Suspense No. 52 (April 1964). The character was first introduced as a Russianspy, an antagonist of the superhero Iron Man. She later defected to the United States, becoming an agent of the fictional spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and a member of the superhero team the Avengers.

Scarlett Johansson portrayed the character in the films Iron Man 2 (2010), Marvel's The Avengers (2012), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and is set to reprise the role in Captain America: Civil War (2016) as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

Publication history

The Black Widow's first appearances were as a recurring, non-costumed, Russian-spy antagonist in the feature "Iron Man", beginning in Tales of Suspense No. 52 (April 1964). Five issues later, she recruited the besotted costumed archer and later superhero Hawkeye to her cause. Her government later supplied her with her first Black Widow costume and high-tech weaponry, but she eventually defected to the United States after appearing, temporarily brainwashed against the U.S., in the superhero-team series The Avengers No. 29 (July 1966). The Widow later became a recurring ally of the team before officially becoming its sixteenth member many years later.

The Black Widow was visually updated in 1970: The Amazing Spider-Man No. 86 (July 1970) reintroduced her with shoulder-length red hair (instead of her former short black hair), a skintight black costume, and wristbands which fired spider threads. This would become the appearance most commonly associated with the character.[2]

In short order, The Black Widow starred in her own series in Amazing Adventures #1–8 (Aug. 1970–Sept. 1971), sharing that split book with the feature Inhumans. The Black Widow feature was dropped after only eight issues (the Inhumans feature followed soon, ending with issue 10).[2]

Immediately after her initial solo feature ended, the Black Widow co-starred in Daredevil #81–124 (Nov. 1971–Aug. 1975), of which #93-108 were cover titled Daredevil and the Black WidowDaredevil writer Gerry Conway recounted, "It was my idea to team up Daredevil and the Black Widow, mainly because I was a fan of Natasha, and thought she and Daredevil would have interesting chemistry."[2] Succeeding writers, however, felt that Daredevil worked better as a solo hero, and gradually wrote the Black Widow out of the series.[2] She was immediately recast into the super-team series The Champions as the leader of the titular superhero group, which ran for 17 issues (Oct. 1975–Jan. 1978).

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Black Widow appeared frequently as both an Avengers member and a freelance agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She starred in a serialized feature within the omnibus comic-book series Marvel Fanfare #10–13 (Aug. 1983–March 1984), written by George Pérez and Ralph Macchio, with art by penciller Perez. These stories were later collected in the oversized one-shot Black Widow: Web of Intrigue No. 1 (June 1999).

The Widow guest-starred in issues of Solo AvengersForce WorksIron ManMarvel Team-Up, and other comics. She had made frequent guest appearances in Daredevil since the late 1970s.

She starred in a three-issue arc, "The Fire Next Time", by writer Scott Lobdell and penciller Randy Green, in Journey into Mystery #517–519 (Feb.–April 1998).

A new ongoing Black Widow comic title debuted in April 2010. The first story arc was written by Marjorie Liu with art by Daniel Acuna.[3] Beginning with issue No. 6 (Sept. 2010), the title was written by Duane Swierczynski, with artwork by Manuel Garcia and Lorenzo Ruggiero.

Black Widow appeared as a regular character throughout the 2010–2013 Secret Avengers series, from issue #1 (July 2010) through its final issue #37 (March 2013).

Black Widow appears in the 2013 Secret Avengers series by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross.[4]

Black Widow appears in a relaunched ongoing series by writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Phil Noto. The first issue debuted in January 2014.[5]

Limited series and specials

Aside from the arcs in Marvel Fanfare and Journey into Mystery, the Black Widow has starred in four limited series and four graphic novels.

The three-issue Black Widow (June - Aug. 1999), under the Marvel Knights imprint, starred Romanova and fully introduced her appointed successor, Captain Yelena Belova, who had briefly appeared in an issue of the 1999 series Inhumans. The writer for the story arc, "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" was Devin K. Grayson while J. G. Jones was the artist. The next three-issue, Marvel Knights mini-series, also titled Black Widow (Jan. - March 2001) featured both Black Widows in the story arc "Breakdown", by writers Devin Grayson andGreg Rucka with painted art by Scott Hampton.

Romanova next starred in another solo miniseries titled Black Widow: Homecoming (Nov. 2004 - April 2005), also under the Marvel Knights imprint and written by science fiction novelist Richard K. Morgan, with art initially by Bill Sienkiewicz and later by Sienkiewicz over Goran Parlov layouts. A six-issue sequel, Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her (Nov. 2005–April 2006; officially Black Widow 2: The Things They Say About Her in the series' postal indicia), by writer Morgan, penciller Sean Phillips, and inker Sienkiewicz, picks up immediately where the previous miniseries left off, continuing the story using many of the same characters.[citation needed]

She starred in the solo graphic novel Black Widow: The Coldest War (April 1990), and co-starred in three more: Punisher/Black Widow: Spinning Doomsday's Web (Dec. 1992); Daredevil/Black Widow: Abattoir (July 1993); and Nick Fury/Black Widow: Death Duty(June 1995), also co-starring Marvel UK's Night Raven.[citation needed]

Black Widow is also featured in the short story Love Is Blindness in I Heart Marvel: Marvel Ai (2006) #1 (April 2006), where she instigates a humorous fight with Elektra over Daredevil's affections. The comic is stylized to look like Japanese animation and uses images, not words, inside the speech and thought bubbles to convey what the characters are saying/thinking.

In 2010, the year in which the character, called only Natasha Romanoff, made her film debut in Iron Man 2, the Black Widow received two separate miniseries. Black Widow and the Marvel Girls was an all-ages, four-issue series that chronicled her adventures with various women of the Marvel Universe, including StormShe-Hulk, the Enchantress, and Spider-Woman. It was written by Paul Tobin, with art by Salvador Espin and Takeshi Miyazawa. The second four-issue miniseries, Black Widow: Deadly Origin, was written byPaul Cornell, and featured art by Tom Raney and John Paul Leon.[citation needed]

Fictional character biography

Early life

Natasha was born in Stalingrad (now Volgograd), Russia. The first and best-known Black Widow is a Russian agent trained as a spymartial artist, and sniper, and outfitted with an arsenal of high-tech weaponry, including a pair of wrist-mounted energy weapons dubbed her "Widow's Bite". She wears no costume during her first few appearances but simply evening wear and a veil. Romanova eventually defects to the U.S. for reasons that include her love for the reluctant-criminal turned superhero archerHawkeye.

First hints to Natasha Romanova's childhood come by Ivan Petrovich, who is introduced as her middle-aged chauffeur and confidant in the Black Widow's 1970s Amazing Adventures. The man tells Matt Murdock how he had been given custody of little Natasha by a woman just before her death during the Battle of Stalingrad in autumn 1942. He had consequently felt committed to raise the orphan as a surrogate father and she had eventually trained as a Sovietspy, being eager to help her homeland.[6] In another flashback, set in the fictional island of Madripoor in 1941, Petrovich helps Captain America and the mutant Logan, who would later become the Canadian super-agent and costumed hero Wolverine, to rescue Natasha from Nazis.[7]

A revised, retconned origin establishes her as being raised from very early childhood by the U.S.S.R.'s "Black Widow Ops" program, rather than solely by Ivan Petrovitch.[8] Petrovitch had taken her to Department X, with other young female orphans, where she was brainwashed, and trained in combat and espionage at the covert "Red Room" facility. There, she is biotechnologically and psycho-technologically enhanced—an accounting that provides a rationale for her unusually long and youthful lifespan. During that time she had some training under Winter Soldier, and the pair even had a short romance.[9] Each Black Widow is deployed with false memories to help ensure her loyalty. Romanova eventually discovers this, including the fact that she had never, as she had believed, been a ballerina. She further discovers that the Red Room is still active as "2R".

Natasha was arranged by the KGB to marry the renowned Soviet test pilot Alexei Shostakov. However, when the Soviet government decided to make Alexei into their new operative, the Red Guardian, he is told that he can have no further contact with his wife. Natasha is told that he had died and is trained as a secret agent separately.

The Avengers

Romanova grew up to serve as a femme fatale. She was assigned to assist Boris Turgenov in the assassination of Professor Anton Vanko for defecting from the Soviet Union, which served as her first mission in the United States. Natasha and Turgenov infiltratedStark Industries as part of the plan.[10] She attempted to manipulate information from American defense contractor Tony Stark, and inevitably confronted his superhero alter ego, Iron Man. The pair then battled Iron Man, and Turgenov steals and wears the Crimson Dynamo suit. Vanko sacrificed himself to save Iron Man, killing Turgenov in the process, using an unstable experimental laser light pistol.[11] Romanova later meets the criminal archer Hawkeye and sets him against Iron Man,[12] and later helped Hawkeye battle Iron Man.[13]

Natasha once more attempted to get Hawkeye to help her destroy Iron Man. The pair almost succeeded, but when Black Widow was injured, Hawkeye retreated to get her to safety.[14] During this period, Romanova was attempting to defect from the Soviet Union and began falling in love with Hawkeye, weakening her loyalty to her country. When her employers learned the truth, the KGB had her gunned down, sending her to a hospital, convincing Hawkeye to go straight and seek membership in the Avengers.[15][16]

The Red Room kidnaps and brainwashes her again, and with the Swordsman and the first Power Man, she battles the Avengers.[17] She eventually breaks free from her psychological conditioning (with the help of Hawkeye), and does successfully defect, having further adventures with Spider-Man, with Hawkeye and with Daredevil.[volume & issue needed] She ultimately joins the Avengers as a costumed heroine herself.[18]

S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil

Later still, she begins freelancing as an agent of the international espionage group S.H.I.E.L.D. She is sent on a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. mission to China by Nick Fury. There, with the Avengers, she battles Col. Ling, Gen. Brushov, and her ex-husband the Red Guardian.[19] For a time, as writer Les Daniels noted in a contemporaneous study in 1971,

... her left-wing upbringing was put to better use, and she has lately taken to fighting realistic oppressor-of-the-people types. She helps young Puerto Ricans clean up police corruption and saves young hippies from organized crime. ... [The splash page of Amazing Adventures No. 3 (Nov. 1970)] reflects the recent trend toward involving fantastic characters in contemporary social problems, a move which has gained widespread publicity for Marvel and its competitor, DC.[20]

During her romantic involvement with Matt Murdock in San Francisco, she operates as an independent superhero alongside Murdock's alter ego, Daredevil.[21] There she tries unsuccessfully to find a new career for herself as a fashion designer. Eventually, her relationship with Murdock stagnates, and after briefly working with Avengers finally breaks up with Murdock, fearing that playing "sidekick" is sublimating her identity.[22] During a HYDRA attempt to take over S.H.I.E.L.D., she is tortured to such an extent that she regresses back to an old cover identity of schoolteacher Nancy Rushman, but she is recovered by Spider-Man in time to help Nick Fury and Shang-Chi work out what had happened and restore her memory, with "Nancy" developing an attraction to Spider-Man before her memory is restored during the final fight against Madam Viper, Boomerang and the Silver Samurai.[23] She later returns to Matt Murdock's life to find he is romantically involved with another woman, Heather Glenn,[24] prompting her to leave New York.[25] Natasha ultimately realizes that Matt still only thinks of her in platonic terms, and elects to restrain herself from any advances.[26]

The Champions

After their breakup, the Widow moves to Los Angeles and becomes leader of the newly created and short-lived super team known as The Champions, consisting of her, Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), Hercules (with whom she has a brief romance), and former X-Men Angel and Iceman.[27]

Her friends often call her "Natasha", the informal version of "Natalia". She has sometimes chosen the last-name alias "Romanoff"—evidently as a private joke on those who are not aware that Russian family names use different endings for males and females. She has been hinted to be a descendant of the deposed House of Romanov and a relation to Nicholas II of Russia.

21st century

Natasha crosses Daredevil's (Matt Murdock) path again when he attempts to slay an infant he believes to be the Anti-Christ. After Daredevil's one-time love, Karen Page, dies protecting the child, Natasha reconciles with Murdock, revealing she still loves him, but noting that he is too full of anger to commit to a relationship with her.[28]

Natasha is challenged by Yelena Belova, a graduate from the training program through which Natasha herself was taught the espionage trade, who is the first to ever surpass Natasha's marks and considers herself the rightful successor to the "Black Widow" mantle.[29] Natasha refers to her as "little one" and "rooskaya (meaning "Russian"), and encourages her to discover her individuality rather than live in blind service, asking her "why be Black Widow, when you can be Yelena Belova?"[30] After several confrontations, Natasha subjects Yelena to intense psychological manipulation and suffering in order to teach her the reality of the espionage business, and an angry but disillusioned Yelena eventually returns home and temporarily quits being a spy. Although Matt Murdock is appalled by the cruelty of Natasha's treatment of Yelena, Nick Fury describes the action as Natasha's attempt at saving Yelena's life.[31] After bringing the Avengers and the Thunderbolts together to overcome Count Nefaria, Natasha supported Daredevil's short-lived efforts to form a new super-team to capture the Punisher, originally believed to be Nick Fury's murderer.[volume & issue needed] Despite recruitment endeavors, however, this vigilante group folded shortly after she and her teammate Dagger fought an army of renegade S.H.I.E.L.D. androids; ironically, she soon afterward worked with both Daredevil and Punisher against the European crime syndicate managed by the Brothers Grace.[volume & issue needed] Months later, her pursuit of war criminal Anatoly Krylenko led to a clash with Hawkeye, whose pessimism regarding heroic activities now rivaled her own.[volume & issue needed]

Shortly after the Scarlet Witch's insanity seemingly killed Hawkeye, and again disbanded the Avengers, Natasha, weary of espionage and adventure, travelled to Arizona but was targeted. Natasha discovers that other women had been trained in the Black Widow Program, and all are now being hunted down and killed[volume & issue needed] by the North Institute on behalf of the corporation Gynacon.[volume & issue needed] Natasha's investigations led her back to Russia, where she was appalled to learn the previously unimagined extent of her past manipulation, and she discovered the Widows were being hunted because Gynacon, having purchased Russian biotechnology from Red Room's successor agency 2R, wanted all prior users of the technology dead. Natasha finds and kills the mastermind of the Black Widow murders: an aging CEO who intended to use part of their genetic structure to create a new chemical weapon.[volume & issue needed] After killing Gynacon CEO Ian McMasters, she clashed with operatives of multiple governments to helpSally Anne Carter, a girl Natasha had befriended in her investigations, whom she rescued with help from Daredevil and Yelena Belova.[volume & issue needed] She soon returned the favor for Daredevil by reluctantly working with Elektra Natchios to protect his new wife, Milla Donovan, from the FBI and others, although Yelena proved beyond help when she agreed to be transformed into the new Super-Adaptoid by A.I.M. and HYDRA.[volume & issue needed]

Civil War/Initiative

During the Superhero Civil War, Natasha becomes a supporter of the Superhuman Registration Act and a member of the taskforce led by Iron Man.[32] Afterward, the registered Natasha joins the reconstituted Avengers.[volume & issue needed] S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury is presumed killed,[volume & issue needed] and deputy director Maria Hill incapacitated,[volume & issue needed] so Natasha assumes temporary command of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the highest-ranking agent present.[volume & issue needed]

Later, Tony Stark assigns Natasha to convey the late Captain America's shield to a secure location, but is intercepted by her former lover, Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, who steals the shield. Natasha and the Falcon then rescue Barnes from the Red Skull's minions, and bring him to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, where Stark convinces Bucky to become the new Captain America. Afterward, Natasha accompanies Bucky as his partner for a brief time until she is called back by S.H.I.E.L.D.[33] She later rejoins him and Falcon for the final confrontation with the Red Skull, helping to rescue Sharon Carter. She and Bucky have restarted their relationship.[34] She later plays an important role in the capture of Hercules. However, due to her respect of the Greek god, she let him go.[35] Soon Natasha, along with the rest of the Avengers, gets involved in the current Skrull invasion.[36] Afterwards, she stayed as Bucky's partner.[37] She also assists former director Maria Hill in delivering a special form of data to Bucky.[38]

Thunderbolts

Norman Osborn discovered Yelena Belova breaking into an abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, and offered her the position of field leader of the new Thunderbolts. On her first mission, she and Ant-Man take control of Air Force One with the Goblin, Doc Samson, and the new President aboard.[39] It was suggested she faked her apparent death (as the Adaptoid) but it is never explained how.

A conversation with the Ghost implies that Yelena is working as a mole for someone else and that she may even be someone else disguised as Yelena. She is later seen talking privately through a comm-link to Nick Fury.[40]

Osborn orders Yelena to lead the current Thunderbolts to kill former Thunderbolt, Songbird. Fury orders "Yelena" to rescue and retrieve Songbird, for the information she might possess about Osborn and his operations. Yelena finds Songbird, and reveals to her that she was really Natasha Romanova in disguise.[41] She tries delivering Songbird to Fury, but the Thunderbolts have also followed them.[42] The trio are captured as Osborn reveals he had been impersonating Fury in messages all along to set Natasha up in order to strengthen the Thunderbolts and lead him to Fury. She and Songbird are brought to be executed but manage to escape when Ant-Man, Headsmen and Paladin turn on the rest of the Thunderbolts and let them go.[43]

Heroic Age

At the start of the Heroic Age, Natasha is recruited by Steve Rogers into a new black-ops wing of the Avengers, dubbed the Secret Avengers. She travels to Dubai with her new teammate, Valkyrie, where they steal a dangerous artifact which the Beast then studies, noting that it seems like a distant cousin of the Serpent Crown.[44] In the story "Coppelia", she encounters a teenage clone of herself, code named "Tiny Dancer", whom she rescued from an arms dealer.[45]

During the "Ends of the Earth" storyline involving one of Doctor Octopus' schemes, Natasha is one of only three heroes left standing after the Sinister Six defeat the Avengers,[46] joining Silver Sable and Spider-Man to track the Six (albeit because she was closest to Sable's cloaked ship after the Avengers were defeated).[47] She is later contacted by the Titanium Man to warn her and her allies about Doctor Octopus' attempt to rally other villains against Spider-Man.[48] She is knocked out along with Hawkeye by Iron Man during a battle against the Avengers when they were temporarily under Octavius' remote control.[49]

Secret Wars

During the incursion event between Earth 616 and Earth 1610, Natasha is involved in the final battle between the Marvel Universe's superheroes and the Ultimate Universe's Children of Tomorrow. She pilots a ship holding a handpicked few to restart humanity after the universe ends, copiloted by Jessica Drew. Her ship is shot down during the battle though, and she is killed in the ensuing explosion.[50]

Powers and abilities

The Black Widow is a world class athlete, gymnast, acrobat, aerialist capable of numerous complex maneuvers and feats, expert martial artist (including karatejudoninjutsuaikidosavate, various styles of kung fu, and boxing), marksman, and weapons specialist as well as having extensive espionage training.[51] She is also an accomplished ballerina.

The Black Widow has been enhanced by biotechnology that makes her body resistant to aging and disease and heals at an above human rate;[52] as well as psychological conditioning that suppresses her memory of true events as opposed to implanted ones of the past without the aid of specially designed system suppressant drugs.[volume & issue needed]


The white blood cells in her body are efficient enough to fight off any microbe, foreign body and others from her body, keeping her healthy and immune to most, if not all infections, diseases and disorders. Also, it takes quite a bit for Natasha to become intoxicated.[volume & issue needed]

Her agility is greater than that of an Olympic gold medalist. She can coordinate her body with balance, flexibility, and dexterity easily.[53]

Natasha has a gifted intellect.[54] She displays an uncanny affinity for psychological manipulation and can mask her real emotions perfectly. Like Steve Rogers, she possesses the ability to quickly process multiple information streams (such as threat assessment) and rapidly respond to changing tactical situations.[54]

Natasha is an expert tactician. She is a very effective strategist, tactician, and field commander. She has led the Avengers and even S.H.I.E.L.D. on one occasion.[54]

Equipment

The Black Widow uses a variety of equipment invented by Soviet scientists and technicians, with later improvements by S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists and technicians. She usually wears distinctively shaped bracelets which fire the Widow's Bite electro-static energy blasts that can deliver charges up to 30,000 volts, as well as "Widow's Line" grappling hooks, tear gas pellets, and a new element introduced during her ongoing series during the "Kiss or Kill" arc called the "Widow's Kiss"—an aerosol instant knock-out gas she has modified.[54] She wears a belt of metallic discs; some are disc-charges containing plastic explosives, while others have been shown to be compartments for housing other equipment. Her costume consists of synthetic stretch fabric equipped with micro-suction cups on fingers and feet, enabling her to adhere to walls and ceilings. In the 2006 "Homecoming" mini-series, she was seen using knives, unarmed combat, and various firearms, but she has since begun using her bracelets again.[54] While in disguise as Yelena Bolova, when infiltrating the then Osborn-sanctioned Thunderbolts during "Dark Reign", she used a specialized multi-lens goggle/head-carapace that demonstrated various technical abilities enhancing vision and communication.[volume & issue needed] Later, she has used a modified gun based on her Widow's Bite wrist cartridge, during her adventures alongside the new Captain America.[51]

Thor 

Thor is a fictional superhero that appears in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character, based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name, is the Asgardian god of thunder and possesses the enchanted hammer Mjolnir, which grants him the ability of flight and weather manipulation amongst his other superhuman attributes.

Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller-plotter Jack Kirby. He has starred in several ongoing series and limited series, and is a founding member of the superhero team the Avengers, appearing in each volume of that series. The character has also appeared in associated Marvel merchandise including animated television series, clothing, toys, trading cards, video games, and movies.

The 2011 film Thor, based on the character and comic, was directed by Kenneth Branagh and starred Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Hemsworth reappears as Thor in The AvengersThor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron and will reprise his role in Thor: Ragnarok and both parts of Avengers: Infinity War as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Thor placed 14th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time in 2011.[1]

Publication history

The Marvel Comics superhero Thor debuted in the science fiction/fantasy anthology title Journey into Mystery #83 (cover-date Aug. 1962), and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller-plotter Jack Kirby.[2] A different version of the mythological Thor had appeared previously in Venus #12-13 (Feb.-April 1951).[3] Lee in 2002 described Thor's genesis early in the Marvel pantheon, following the creation of the Hulk:

[H]ow do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don't make him human — make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends... Besides, I pictured Norse gods looking like Vikings of old, with the flowing beards, horned helmets, and battle clubs.  ...Journey into Mystery needed a shot in the arm, so I picked Thor ... to headline the book. After writing an outline depicting the story and the characters I had in mind, I asked my brother, Larry, to write the script because I didn't have time. ...and it was only natural for me to assign the penciling to Jack Kirby...[4]

In a 1984 interview Kirby said "I did a version of Thor for D.C. in the Fifties before I did him for Marvel. I created Thor at Marvel because I was forever enamored of legends, which is why I knew about Balder, Heimdall, and Odin. I tried to update Thor and put him into a superhero costume, but he was still Thor."[5] And in a 1992 interview, Kirby said "[I] knew the Thor legends very well, but I wanted to modernize them. I felt that might be a new thing for comics, taking the old legends and modernizing them."[6]

Subsequent stories of the 13-page feature "The Mighty Thor" continued to be plotted by Lee, and were variously scripted by Lieber or by Robert Bernstein, working under the pseudonym "R. Berns". Various artists penciled the feature, including Jack Kirby, Joe SinnottDon Heck, and Al Hartley. With Journey into Mystery #101 (Feb. 1964), the series began a long and definitive run by writer and co-plotter Lee and penciler and co-plotter Kirby that lasted until the by-then-retitled Thor #179 (Aug. 1970).[7][8]

Lee and Kirby included Thor in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963) as a founding member of the superhero team.[9] The character has since appeared in every subsequent volume of the series.

The five-page featurette "Tales of Asgard" was added in Journey into Mystery #97 (Oct. 1963),[10] followed by "The Mighty Thor" becoming the dominant cover logo with issue #104 (May 1964). The feature itself expanded to 18 pages in #105, which eliminated the remaining anthological story from each issue; it was reduced to 16 pages five issues later. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "the adventures of Thor were gradually transformed from stories about a strange-looking superhero into a spectacular saga."[11] Artist Chic Stone, who inked several early Thor stories, observed that "Kirby could just lead you through all these different worlds. The readers would follow him anywhere."[12]

Journey into Mystery was retitled Thor (per the indicia, or The Mighty Thor per most covers)[7] with issue #126 (March 1966). "Tales of Asgard" was replaced by a five-page featurette starring the Inhumans from #146–152 (Nov. 1967 – May 1968), after which featurettes were dropped and the Thor stories expanded to Marvel's then-standard 20-page length. Marvel filed for a trademark for "The Mighty Thor" in 1967 and the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the registration in 1970.[13]

After Kirby left the title, Neal Adams penciled issues #180-181 (Sept.-Oct. 1970).[14] John Buscema then became the regular artist the following issue. Buscema continued to draw the book almost without interruption until #278 (Dec. 1978). Lee stopped scripting soon after Kirby left, and during Buscema's long stint on the book, the stories were mostly written by Gerry ConwayLen Wein, or Roy Thomas. Thomas continued to write the book after Buscema's departure, working much of the time with the artist Keith Pollard; during this period Thomas integrated many elements of traditional Norse mythology into the title, with specific stories translated into comics form.[15] Following Thomas's tenure, Thor had a changing creative team.

In the mid-1970s, Marvel considered giving the character a second series as a black-and-white magazine published as part of its Curtis Magazines line. A story written by Steve Englehart for the aborted project appeared in Thor Annual #5 (1976).[16] A black-and-white Thor story appeared in Marvel Preview #10 (Winter 1977).[17]

Walt Simonson took over both writing and art as of #337 (Nov. 1983). His stories placed a greater emphasis on the character's mythological origins.[18] Simonson's run as writer-artist lasted until #367 (May 1986), although he continued to write – and occasionally draw – the book until issue #382 (Aug. 1987). Simonson's run, which introduced the character Beta Ray Bill, was regarded as a popular and critical success.[19][20]Simonson's later stories were drawn by Sal Buscema, who describes Simonson's stories as "very stimulating. It was a pleasure working on his plots, because they were a lot of fun to illustrate. He had a lot of great ideas, and he took Thor in a totally new direction."[21] Asked why he was leaving Thor, Simonson said that he felt the series was due for a change in creative direction, and that he wanted to reduce his work load for a time.[22] After Simonson's departure, Marvel's editor-in-chief at the time, Tom DeFalco, became the writer. Working primarily with artist Ron Frenz, DeFalco stayed on the book until #459 (Feb. 1993).

As a consequence of the "Heroes Reborncrossover story arc of the 1990s, Thor was removed from mainstream Marvel continuity and with other Marvel characters re-imagined in an alternate universe for one year. The Thor title reverted to Journey into Mystery with issue #503 (Nov. 1996), and ran four different, sequential features ("The Lost Gods"; "Master of Kung Fu"; "Black Widow" and "Hannibal King") before ceasing publication with #521 (June 1998).

When the character was returned to the mainstream Marvel Universe, Thor was relaunched with Thor vol. 2, #1 (July 1998).[23][24][25] As of issue #36, the title used dual numbering in a tribute to the original Thor series, and the caption box for said issue became #36 / #538 (June 2001). The title ran until issue #85 / #587, dated December 2004. Dan Jurgens wrote the first 79 issues, with Daniel Berman and Michael Avon Oeming completing the series.

The third volume debuted as Thor #1 (Sept. 2007), initially written by J. Michael Straczynski and penciled by Olivier Coipel.[26][27][28] Beginning with what would have been vol. 3, #13 (January 2009), the third volume reverted to issue #600, reflecting the total number of published issues from all three volumes.[29][30][31] Kieron Gillen took over from Straczynski in Thor #604 with artists Billy TanRichard Elson and Dougie Braithwaite,[32] with his final storyline finishing in issue #614.[33] Afterward, Matt Fraction took over the series with issue #615, after having been announced as starting in Thor #610[34] and #611.[35][36]

To coincide with the Thor film, Marvel launched a number of new series starring the character in mid-2010. These included Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee,[37] Thor: First Thunder byBryan J. L. Glass and Tan Eng Huat,[38] Thor: For Asgard by Robert Rodi and Simone Bianchi,[39] and Iron Man/Thor by the writing duo of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.[40]

In April 2011, Thor once again reverted to its original title of Journey into Mystery with issue #622, reuniting writer Gillen and artist Braithwaite in a series of stories starring Thor's adopted brother, Loki.[41] An ongoing series, titled The Mighty Thor, launched the same month with writer Fraction and artist Coipel.[42] The series ended with issue #22 in October 2012.[43][44]

In October 2012, Thor became a regular character in Uncanny Avengers, beginning with issue #1. The following month, an ongoing series titled Thor: God of Thunder by writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribićdebuted as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch.[45][46]

In October 2014, a fourth volume of Thor by Jason Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman debuted that featured a female character in the role of Thor after the classic hero is no longer able to wield Mjolnir. Aaron stated that "this is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is Thor. This is the Thor of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before."[47]

Fictional character biography[edit]

1960s

Thor's father Odin decides his son needed to be taught humility and consequently places Thor (without memories of godhood) into the body and memories of an existing, partially disabled human medical student, Donald Blake.[48] After becoming a doctor and on vacation in Norway, Blake witnesses the arrival of an alien scouting party. Blake flees from the aliens into a cave. After discovering Thor's hammer Mjolnir (disguised as a walking stick) and striking it against a rock, he transforms into the thunder god.[49] Later, in Thor #158, Blake is revealed to have always been Thor, Odin's enchantment having caused him to forget his history as The Thunder God and believe himself mortal.[50]

Defeating the aliens, Thor shares a double life with his alter ego: treating the ill in a private practice with nurse - and eventual love - Jane Foster, and defending humanity from evil. Thor's presence on Earth almost immediately attracts the attention of his adoptive brother and arch-foe Loki.[51][52] Loki is responsible for the emergence of three of Thor's principal foes: the Absorbing Man;[53][54] the Destroyer,[55][56] and the Wrecker.[57] On one occasion, Loki's tactics were accidentally beneficial - although successful in using an illusion of the Hulk to draw Thor into battle, it results in the formation of the superhero team the Avengers, of which Thor is a founding and longstanding member.[9] Thor's other early foes include Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man;[58] the Radioactive Man;[59][60]the Lava Man;[61] the Cobra;[62] Mister Hyde;[63] the Enchantress and the Executioner,[64][65] and the Grey Gargoyle.[66]

Falling in love with Jane Foster, Thor disobeys his father and refuses to return to Asgard, an act for which he is punished on several occasions.[67] Thor's natural affinity for Earth is eventually revealed to be due to the fact that he was the son of the Elder Goddess Gaea.[68] Although Thor initially regards himself as a "superhero" like his teammates in the Avengers,[68] Loki's machinations draw Thor into increasingly epic adventures, such as teaming with his father Odin and Asgardian ally Balder against the fire demon Surtur and Skagg the Storm Giant,[69] and defeating an increasingly powerful Absorbing Man and proving his innocence in the "Trial of the Gods".[70] This necessitates an extended leave of absence from the Avengers.[71]

Thor encounters the Greek God Hercules,[72][73] who becomes a loyal and trustworthy friend. Thor saves Hercules from fellow Olympian Pluto;[74] stops the advance of Ego the Living Planet;[75][76][77] rescues Jane Foster from the High Evolutionary and defeats his flawed creation, the Man-Beast.[78][79] Odin finally relents and allows Thor to love Jane Foster, on the proviso she pass a trial. Foster panics and Thor intervenes. After Foster fails the test, Odin returns her to Earth, where she is given another chance at love, while a heartbroken Thor is introduced to the Asgardian warrior Sif.[80][81] Thor battles the Asgardian troll Ulik for the first time when Ulik attempts to steal Mjolnir.[82] The thunder god returns to Asgard to prevent Mangog from drawing the Odinsword and ending the universe,[83] Thor learns the origin of Galactus[84] and rescues Sif after she is kidnapped by Him.[85][86]

1970s

Thor battles Surtur once again when the fire demon attempts to storm Asgard;[87][88] encounters the Stranger and his pawn the Abomination;[89] and overpowers an outmatched Doctor Doom.[90][91]

In the fall of 1972, writers Gerry ConwaySteve Englehart, and Len Wein crafted a metafictional unofficial crossover spanning titles from both major comics companies. Each comic featured Conway, Englehart, and Wein, as well as Wein's first wife Glynisinteracting with Marvel or DC characters at the Rutland Halloween Parade in Rutland, Vermont. Beginning in Amazing Adventures vol. 2 #16 (by Englehart with art by Bob Brown and Frank McLaughlin), the story continued in Justice League of America #103 (by Wein, Dick Dillinand Dick Giordano), and concluded in Thor #207 (by Conway and penciler John Buscema).[92][93][94]

Thor prevents another attempt by Mangog — disguised as Odin — from drawing the Odinsword;[95][96] is saved by the intervention of ally Volstagg when the "Odin Force" became a semi-sentient destructive force;[97] and is rescued from death when Odin engineers a false Ragnarök and has reporter Red Norvell die in his place battling the Midgard Serpent.[98] Thor met the Eternals in a lengthy storyline.[99][100] He later encounters the Eye of Odin, the eye Odin gave up for drinking from the Well of Mimir, increasing his wisdom. It has grown and gained sentience. Thor finds there was another Asgard before his, involving a red-haired Thor.[101]

1980s

Thor eventually confronts the threat of the Celestial Fourth Host, and after an extended series of encounters learns of the apparent true origin of Asgard and Odin's plans to defend Earth from the alien judges. Despite the attempt by Odin to stop the Celestials by occupying the Destroyer armor (now 2,000 feet tall as holding the life essence of every Asgardian) and wielding the Odinsword (and aided by the Uni-Mind, an entity composed of the Eternals) and Thor himself, the aliens depart when presented with an offering by Gaea on behalf of the "Skymothers" (e.g. Frigga and Hera) of twelve perfect humans. Thor also learns Gaea was his birth mother.[15]

After restoring the Asgardian gods with a gathering of energies donated by Skyfathers from other pantheons,[102] Thor has a series of adventures on Earth, including encountering two Heralds of Galactus in swift succession;[103][104] stopping Mephisto from taking human souls;[105] clearing his name when framed by Asgardian god of war Tyr;[106][107] aiding Drax the Destroyer;[108] with ally Iron Man defeating the Bi-Beast and the Man-Beast;[109][110][111] engaging the former king of Nastrond Fafnir transformed by Odin into adragon in combat when freed by Loki,[112] and battling Dracula.[113][114] Thor learns of the existence of the "God Eater", a creature summoned when the death gods of several pantheons temporarily merge their realms. Thor thwarts the creature - revealed to be in humanoid guise Atum, the son of Gaea, and therefore Thor's half-brother - and ensures the cosmic balance is restored.[115]

While exploring an approaching space vessel at the request of Nick Fury, Thor encounters Beta Ray Bill,[116] who after a brief battle, proved himself worthy of lifting Thor's hammer Mjolnir. After initial misunderstandings, Bill forms an alliance with the Asgardian gods, and is empowered by Odin to aid Thor and his allies in a war with an approaching army of demons,[117] which is revealed to be led by fire demon Surtur, now wielding "Twilight", the gigantic "Sword of Doom". After a series of extended battles - including a battle to the death with Fafnir and thwarting the Dark Elf Malekith — the gods are finally triumphant, although during combat Odin and Surtur disappear through a rift and are presumed dead.[118][119]

Thor remains in Asgard to deal with the vacuum left by Odin's apparent death, and drives off Hela;[120] meets Tiwaz, his great-grandfather;[121][122] forces Loki to cure him from the effects of a love potion;[123] with allies enters Hela's realm and rescues lost mortal souls.[124] Returning to Earth, Thor and Beta Ray Bill defeat the transformed Dark Elf Kurse,[125] although Loki uses the power of Surtur's discarded sword to change Thor into a frog. After an adventure in Central Park, Thor manages to partially restore himself and then forces Loki to reverse the spell.[126][127][128] While rescuing X-Factor member the Angel from torture by the mercenary team the Marauders, Thor is cursed by Hela, who makes his bones as brittle as glass and unable to heal if damaged; and renderes him truly immortal and unable to die no matter how severe his injuries.[129] Thor is injured again during a battle with the Absorbing Man engineered by Loki,[130][131] and is ultimately saved by Loki during a battle with the Dark Elves.[132]

Eventually forced to wear armor to protect his broken body, Thor and Loki defeate a group of Ice Giants, who seek revenge by trying to locate the Midgard Serpent, hoping it would kill the thunder god. The Giants instead find the dragon Fin Fang Foom, who is revealed to be the Midgard Serpent in disguise. Time slows as the pair - mortal enemies due to prophecy that stated they would kill each other during Ragnarök — battle to the death. Thor kills the Serpent, although his body is completely pulverized.[133] Loki restores the Destroyer, and after killing the Ice Giants finds Thor's now liquid form. The Destroyer attempts to disintegrate the thunder god but can not do so due to Hela's curse. Thor assumes mental control of the Destroyer, and forces Hela on pain of death to restore his true form. The thunder god then breaks Loki's arm as punishment for his actions.[134] Thor meets and battles Leir, the Celtic god of lightning.[135] After another encounter with the Celestials on an alien world;[136] Thor finds Odin — a captive of Seth — and uses the Odinpower to fend off a returning Surtur;[137] and defeats Annihilus while Asgard is in the Negative Zone.[138][139] Thor battles X-Men foe the Juggernaut and meets the New Warriors.[140][141]

1990s

After Thor kills Loki in single combat,[142] Heimdall - standing in for Odin temporarily as ruler of Asgard - banishes Thor from Asgard; he is replaced by the mortal Eric Masterson, who became the hero Thunderstrike. When Odin awakes, Thor is forgiven and returned.[143] During a battle Thor is driven into a "warrior's madness" by a Valkyrie. After overpowering everyone who attempts to stop his rampage,[144] Thor is brought by the Eternal Thanos before Odin, who cures his son of the madness.[145]

Thor, together with the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and other heroes, is trapped in an alternate universe after defeating the villain Onslaught. The heroes live alternate lives for a year in what is revealed to be an artificial creation until returning to their own universe.[146] Thor and several members of the Avengers battle the Destroyer. Thor is saved by an enigmatic being called Marnot, who binds the life-force of a mortal called Jake Olson to the thunder god.[147][148] Thor enters into a war with the Dark Gods with Marnot revealed to be Hescamer, one of Odin's ravens;[149] and battles the returning Enchanters Three.[150]

2000s

Thor faces a prolonged struggle against Thanos when he seeks to remake the universe.[151] When Odin dies in battle against Surtur, Thor becomes ruler of Asgard. The thunder god extends his rule to Earth, with major repercussions. Thor and the Asgardians slay or imprison those who oppose them, including a young religious mutant called Davis; Zarrko the Tomorrow Man; Perrikus of the Dark Gods; the U.S. Government, and even his fellow Avengers. Thor marries Amora (the Enchantress), and has a son, Magni, who upon reaching adulthood doubts his father's judgment. Wracked with guilt, Thor is drawn into battle with his former ally Tarene and the Destroyer (occupied by former foeDesak), and reverses these events via time travel.[152][153][154][155][156][157]

When the timeline is reset, Loki revives Surtur, who forges new uru hammers for Loki's Storm Giant followers and began Ragnarök. Thor learns that Ragnarok was the result of the self-styled "gods to the gods" known as Those Who Sit Above in Shadow, who feed on the cycle. Thor confronts the Norns (Fates), and severs the tapestry of Asgard's existence. After breaking the Ragnarok cycle and being advised by the Odinforce that this was his father's plan, Thor enters into hibernation. With his fate unknown to the Avengers, he is believed to be missing in action.[158]

Thor's hammer Mjolnir is eventually found on Earth and put under United States Army protection. When the supervillain Doctor Doom escapes from Hell, Mjolnir falls through the dimensional plane, and Doom tries unsuccessfully to lift the hammer. Mjolnir then comes into the possession of a man carrying a bag with the initials "D.B".[159] Donald Blake, upon touching the hammer Mjolnir, is transported to the void of non-existence in which Thor resides. Blake explains that when Odin originally removed the Blake persona from Thor,[160] Blake was consigned to the void that Thor now inhabited. With Odin's death, Blake was suddenly restored into being in New York City. Blake convinces Thor to wield Mjolnir once more, return to Earth, and renew the dual identity with Blake. Blake also reveals that Thor's fellow Asgardians still live in the minds and hearts of mortals, and only needed to be found and released.[161] Thor rebuilds Asgard over Broxton, Oklahoma,[162][163][164] and learns of the events that occurred during the 2006-2007 "Civil War" storyline, in which the U.S. government passed the Superhuman Registration Act, requiring all persons with superhuman abilities to register with the government or be subject to imprisonment. The superhero community was split over this law, which led to conflict between the two sides. Furthermore, Iron Man, who became the de facto leader and public face of the pro-registration forces, hunted and imprisoned their mutual former comrades who had joined the anti-registration side, led by Captain America. Iron Man and others also used Thor's DNA to create a clone of him to serve him in this campaign,[165] for which Thor is greatly angered.[164][166] When Iron Man confronts Thor over the latter's bringing Asgard to Oklahoma, and tells him that he himself must register with the government, Thor easily dispatches Iron Man, and tells him that anyone who attempts to approach Asgard uninvited will be dealt with mercilessly. As a compromise to keep the U.S. government from losing face, Iron Man suggests that since Asgard hovers above the ground, it can be regarded as diplomatic embassy or mission separate from the United States and not bound by the Registration Act. Though Thor accepts this,[166] his and Captain America's animosity toward Stark would persist until the conclusion of the 2010-2011 Avengers Prime miniseries.[167] Thor searches for his fellow Asgardians, and restores each of them,[166] with the exception of Sif, who had been trapped in the body of an old woman dying of cancer, her real form stolen by Loki. Thor locates Odin in a limbo between life and death, waging constant battle with Surtur. Odin advises his son that Thor must lead the Asgardians.[168][169][170]

During the 2008 "Secret Invasion" storyline, Thor rescues and heals Beta Ray Bill, who after being temporarily given Mjolnir, aids Thor in defending Earth against an invading force of alien Skrulls.[171][172][173] Due to Loki's deception, Thor battles and kills his grandfather Bor, and is banished from Asgard.[174][175] With Thor's hammer Mjolnir damaged in that battle, Thor seeks out Doctor Strange, who is only able to repair the hammer by transferring the Odinforce from Thor to Mjolnir, binding the two in a symbioticrelationship. With the repaired hammer, Thor is able to draw out the imprisoned Sif, and return her to her own body, thereby restoring Loki to his male body in the process.[176][177]

2010s

During the events of the 2010 "Siege" storyline, Thor defends Asgard against an invasion by Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers. Although the invasion force is ultimately defeated, Asgard itself is toppled by the Sentry, who also kills Loki. Thor then kills the Sentry. Subsequently, the Superhuman Registration Act is repealed and Thor joins the rebranded Avengers, who had come to his aid during the battle.[178][179][180][181][182] The next day Balder lifts Thor's exile and appoints Thor as his adviser.[183] Immediately after the fall of Asgard, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man are transported to the Norse realm of Hel, where they battle against Hela, after which Thor and Captain America's friendship with Iron Man is renewed.[167]

Thor aids Amadeus Cho in a quest to find the necessary ingredients to bring back their mutual friend Hercules from a parallel universe.[184] During the events of the Chaos War, Thor joins Hercules' God Squad to battle the Chaos King, who is set on destroying all of existence.[185] With Asgard in ruins on Earth, the nine worlds are left undefended and are invaded by a force known as "The World Eaters". Seeking counsel on the matter, Thor restores his father Odin and his brother Loki, whom Thor had missed since his death.[186]

During the 2011 "Fear Itself" storyline, Sin frees Odin's long-forgotten brother, Cul, a God of Fear known also as the Serpent, from his underwater prison. Once free, The Serpent dispatches his generals known as the Worthy, each armed with magical uru hammers of their own, to descend the Earth into a state of fear. Although Thor and the Avengers manage to defeat the Serpent and his followers, Thor dies from the injuries he sustains during the battle.[187] At Thor's funeral, Thor and the memories of Thor are replaced by Ulik under the guise of Tanarus, a new thunder god.[188][189] Thor returns from the limbo of forgotten dead gods with the help of Loki and the Silver Surfer, and vanquishes Ulik.[190]

During the 2012 "Avengers vs. X-Men" storyline, Thor leads the Secret Avengers into deep space to battle the Phoenix Force, but is defeated. He is later captured and taken prisoner by the phoenix-empowered duo of Colossus andMagik.[191] Following the war, Captain America selects Thor to join the Avengers Unity Squad, a new team of Avengers composed of both classic Avengers and X-Men.[192]

Following the murder of Uatu and his many secrets exposed during the 2014 "Original Sin" storyline, Thor learns that Angela is the daughter of Odin and that she was thought to have been killed during Asgard's war with the Angels of the Tenth Realm. In response, Odin severed the Tenth Realm from the other nine realms and removed all memory of its existence. Thor confronts Frigga about these events and travels to the Tenth Realm with Loki to learn more about his "sister".[193] Later, Nick Fury whispers an unrevealed secret to Thor that causes him to lose the ability to pick up his hammer.[194]

In the aftermath of the "Original Sin" storyline, Thor takes up the battle axe Jarnbjorn as a substitute for Mjolnir and subsequently loses his left arm in combat against Malekith the Accursed. Meanwhile, an unidentified woman (later revealed as Jane Foster[195]) lifts Mjolnir; taking possession of Thor's power.[196] Although Thor initially attempts to reclaim the hammer,[197] he relinquishes the name and role of Thor after witnessing the woman wield its power. He refers to himself as 'Odinson' as he continues to be a hero, while using Jarnbjorn and a prosthetic arm made of uru.[198]

Powers and abilities

Like all Asgardians, Thor is incredibly long-lived and relies upon periodic consumption of the Golden Apples of Idunn to sustain his extended lifespan, which to date has lasted many millennia. Being the son of Odin and the elder goddess Gaea, Thor is physically the strongest of the Asgardians.[68][89][199][200][201] If pressed in battle, Thor is capable of entering into a state known as the "Warrior's Madness" ("berserkergang" in Norwegian), which will temporarily increase his strength and stamina tenfold, although in this state he attacks friend and foe alike.[86][202][203]

Thor possesses a very high resistance to physical injury that approaches invulnerability.[204][205][206] Thor possesses keen senses[51] that allow him to track objects traveling faster than light[207] and hear cries from the other side of the planet.[208] Thor has the ability to travel through time.[58] His stamina allowed him to battle the entire Frost Giant army for nine months without any sustenance or rest;[209] Thor has shown the ability to regenerate wounded portions of his body,[210] including entire limbs or organs, with the aid of magical forces such as Mjolnir.[210] Thor has superhuman speed, agility, and reflexes, enabling him to deflect bullets with his hammer.[211] Like all Asgardians, he has immunity to all Earthly diseases and some resistance to magic. Exceptionally powerful magic can overwhelm Odin's enchantment that transforms him between Asgardian and mortal forms.[212]

As the Norse god of thunder, Thor can summon the elements of the storm (lightning; rain; wind; snow) and uses Mjolnir as a tool to focus this ability, although the hammer cannot command artificial weather, only natural. He can cause these weather effects over the world and destroy entire buildings; by whirling his hammer he can lift entire buildings with the wind.[199] As the son of the Earth goddess Gaea, Thor has shown some control over the Earth.[213]

Thor is a superb hand-to-hand combatant, and is skilled in armed combat, excelling in the use of the war hammerswordaxe and mace. Thor possesses two items which assist him in combat: the enchanted Belt of Strength, and his signature weapon, the mystical hammer Mjolnir. The first item doubles Thor's strength and endurance[214] while the second is used to control his weather abilities; flight; energy projection and absorption; dimensional travel; matter manipulation and the most powerful of his offensives, the God Blast (which taps into Thor's life force),[215][216][217][218] the Thermo-blast,[77] and the Anti-Force (which counteracts another force).[219] Using Mjolnir by throwing in the desired direction and then holding on to the handle's leather loop, Thor can fly at supersonic speeds in Earth's atmosphere and travel faster than light in space. When Thor has to transport companions and/or objects to a destination by himself, he has a chariot drawn by two huge mystical goats called Toothgnasher and Toothgrinder that can fly nearly anywhere he desires almost as easily as with Mjolnir.[126] He can throw an object out of Earth's atmosphere using his strength,[220] and throw his hammer to Asgard from which it will return.[51]

When Mjolnir was damaged, Doctor Strange bound Thor's soul into Mjolnir, meaning that if the hammer were to be broken again, Thor may die.[176]

Loki

In Norse mythologyLoki (/ˈlki/), Loptr, or Hveðrungr is a god or jötunn (or both). Loki is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Narfi and/or Nari. By the stallion Svaðilfari, Loki is the mother—giving birth in the form of a mare—to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. In addition, Loki is referred to as the father of Váli in the Prose Edda.

Loki's relation with the gods varies by source. Loki sometimes assists the gods and sometimes causes problems for them. Loki is a shape shifter and in separate incidents he appears in the form of a salmonmareseal, a fly, and possibly an elderly woman. Loki's positive relations with the gods end with his role in engineering the death of the god Baldr. Loki is eventually bound by the gods with the entrails of one of his sons.

In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, the goddess Skaði is responsible for placing a serpent above him while he is bound. The serpent drips venom from above him that Sigyn collects into a bowl; however, she must empty the bowl when it is full, and the venom that drips in the meantime causes Loki to writhe in pain, thereby causing earthquakes. With the onset of Ragnarök, Loki is foretold to slip free from his bonds and to fight against the gods among the forces of the jötnar, at which time he will encounter the god Heimdallr and the two will slay each other.

Loki is referred to in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; the Norwegian Rune Poems, in the poetry of skalds, and in Scandinavian folklore. Loki may be depicted on the Snaptun Stone, the Kirkby Stephen Stone, and the Gosforth Cross. Loki's origins and role in Norse mythology, which some scholars have described as that of a trickster god, have been much debated by scholars. Loki has been depicted in or is referenced in a variety of media in modern popular culture.

Poetic Edda

In the Poetic Edda, Loki appears (or is referenced) in the poems VöluspáLokasennaÞrymskviðaReginsmálBaldrs draumar, and Hyndluljóð.

Völuspá

In stanza 35 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, a völva tells Odin that, among many other things, she sees Sigyn sitting very unhappily with her bound husband, Loki, under a "grove of hot springs".[4] In stanza 51, during the events of Ragnarök, Loki appears free from his bonds and is referred to as the "brother of Býleistr" (here transcribed as Byleist):

A ship journeys from the east, Muspell's people are coming,
over the waves, and Loki steers
There are the monstrous brood with all the raveners,
The brother of Byleist is in company with them.[5]

In stanza 54, after consuming Odin and being killed by Odin's son Víðarr, Fenrir is described as "Loki's kinsman".[6]

Lokasenna

The poem Lokasenna (Old Norse "Loki's Quarrel") centers around Loki flyting with other gods; Loki puts forth two stanzas of insults while the receiving figure responds with a single stanza, and then another figure chimes in. The poem begins with a prose introduction detailing that Ægir, a figure associated with the sea, is hosting a feast in his hall for a number of the gods and elves. There, the gods praise Ægir's servers Fimafeng and Eldir. Loki "could not bear to hear that," and kills the servant Fimafeng. In response, the gods grab their shields, shrieking at Loki, and chase him out of the hall and to the woods. The gods then return to the hall, and continue drinking.[7]

Entrance and rejection

Loki comes out of the woods, and meets Eldir outside of the hall. Loki greets Eldir (and the poem itself begins) with a demand that Eldir tell him what the gods are discussing over their ale inside the hall. Eldir responds that they discuss their "weapons and their prowess in war" and yet no one there has anything friendly to say about Loki. Loki says that he will go into the feast, and that, before the end of the feast, he will induce quarrelling among the gods, and "mix their mead with malice." Eldir responds that "if shouting and fighting you pour out on" to the gods, "they'll wipe it off on you." Loki then enters the hall, and everyone there falls silent upon noticing him.[8]

Re-entrance and insults

Breaking the silence, Loki says that, thirsty, he had come to these halls from a long way away to ask the gods for a drink of "the famous mead." Calling the gods arrogant, Loki asks why they are unable to speak, and demands that they assign him a seat and a place for him at the feast, or tell him to leave. The skaldic god Bragi is the first to respond to Loki by telling him that Loki will not have a seat and place assigned to him by the gods at the feast, for the gods know what men they should invite.[9] Loki does not respond to Bragi directly, but instead directs his attention to Odin, and states:

Do you remember, Odin, when in bygone days
we mixed our blood together?
You said you would never drink ale
unless it were brought to both of us.[9]

Odin then asks his silent son Víðarr to sit up, so that Loki (here referred to as the "wolf's father") may sit at the feast, and so that he may not speak words of blame to the gods in Ægir's hall. Víðarr stands and pours a drink for Loki. Prior to drinking, Loki declaims a toast to the gods, with a specific exception for Bragi. Bragi responds that he will give a horse, sword, and ring from his possessions so that he does not repay the gods "with hatred." Loki responds that Bragi will always be short of all of these things, accusing him of being "wary of war" and "shy of shooting." Bragi responds that, were they outside of Ægir's hall, Bragi would be holding Loki's head as a reward for his lies. Loki replies that Bragi is brave when seated, calling him a "bench-ornament," and that Bragi would run away when troubled by an angry, spirited man.[10]

The goddess Iðunn interrupts, asking Bragi, as a service to his relatives and adopted relatives, not to say words of blame to Loki in Ægir's hall. Loki tells Iðunn to be silent, calling her the most "man-crazed" of all women, and saying that she placed her washed, bright arms around her brother's slayer. Iðunn says that she won't say words of blame in Ægir's hall, and affirms that she quietened Bragi, who was made talkative by beer, and that she doesn't want the two of them to fight. The goddess Gefjun asks why the two gods must fight, saying that Loki knows that he is joking, and that "all living things love him." Loki responds to Gefjun by stating that Gefjun's heart was once seduced by a "white boy" who gave her a jewel, and who Gefjun laid her thigh over.[11]

Odin says that Loki must be insane to make Gefjun his enemy, as her wisdom about the fates of men may equal Odin's own. Loki says that Odin does a poor job in handing out honor in war to men, and that he's often given victory to the faint-hearted. Odin responds that even if this is true, Loki (in a story otherwise unattested) once spent eight winters beneath the earth as a woman milking cows, and during this time bore children. Odin declares this perverse. Loki counters that Odin once practiced seiðr on the island of Samsey(now Samsø, Denmark), and, appearing as a wizard, traveled among mankind, which Loki condemns as perverse.[12]

Frigg, a major goddess and Odin's wife, says that what Loki and Odin did in the ancient past should not be spoken of in front of others, and that ancient matters should always remain hidden. Loki brings up that Frigg is the daughter of Fjörgyn, a personification of the earth, and that she had once taken Odin's brothers Vili and Vé into her embrace. Frigg responds that if there was a boy like her now-deceased son Baldr in the hall, Loki would not be able to escape from the wrath of the gods. Loki reminds Frigg that he is responsible for the death of her son Baldr.[13]

The goddess Freyja declares that Loki must be mad, stating that Frigg knows all fate, yet she does not speak it. Loki claims each of the gods and elves that are present have been Freyja's lover. Freyja replies that Loki is lying, that he just wants to "yelp about wicked things" that gods and goddesses are furious with him, and that he will go home thwarted. In response, Loki calls Freyja a malicious witch, and claims that Freyja was once astride her brother Freyr, when all of the other laughing gods surprised her, Freyja then farted. This scenario is otherwise unattested. Njörðr (Freyja and Freyr's father) says that it is harmless for a woman to have a lover or "someone else" beside her husband, and that what is surprising is a "pervert god coming here who has borne children."[14]

Loki tells Njörðr to be silent, recalling Njörðr's status as once having been a hostage from the Vanir to the Æsir during the Æsir-Vanir War, that the "daughters of Hymir" once used Njörðr "as a pisspot," urinating in his mouth (an otherwise unattested comment). Njörðr responds that this was his reward when he was sent as a hostage to the Æsir, and that he fathered his son (Freyr), whom no one hates, and is considered a prince of the Æsir. Loki tells Njörðr to maintain his moderation, and that he won't keep it secret any longer that Njörðr fathered this son with his sister (unnamed), although one would expect him to be worse than he turned out.[15]

The god Tyr defends Freyr, to which Loki replies that Tyr should be silent, for Tyr cannot "deal straight with people," and points out that it was Loki's son, the wolf Fenrir, who tore Tyr's hand off. (According to the prose introduction to the poem Tyr is now one-handed from having his arm bitten off by Loki's son Fenrir while Fenrir was bound.) Tyr responds that while he may have lost a hand, Loki has lost the wolf, and trouble has come to them both. Further, that Fenrir must now wait in shackles until the onset of Ragnarök. Loki tells Tyr to be silent a second time, and states that Tyr's wife (otherwise unattested) had a son by Loki, and that Tyr never received any compensation for this "injury," further calling him a "wretch."[16]

Freyr himself interrupts at this point, and says that he sees a wolf lying before a river mouth, and that, unless Loki is immediately silent, like the wolf, Loki shall also be bound until Ragnarök. Loki retorts that Freyr purchased his consort Gerðr with gold, having given away his sword, which he will lack at RagnarökByggvir (referred to in the prose introduction to the poem as a servant of Freyr) says that if he had as noble a lineage and as an honorable a seat as Freyr, he would grind down Loki, and make all of his limbs lame. Loki refers to Byggvir in terms of a dog, and says that Byggvir is always found at Freyr's ears, or twittering beneath a grindstone. Byggvir says that he's proud to be here by all the gods and men, and that he's said to be speedy. Loki tells him to be silent, that Byggvir does not know how to apportion food among men, and that he hides among the straw and dais when men go to battle.[17]

The god Heimdallr says that Loki is drunk and witless, and asks Loki why he won't stop speaking. Loki tells Heimdallr to be silent, that he was fated a "hateful life," that Heimdallr must always have a muddy back, and serve as watchman of the gods. The goddessSkaði says that while Loki now appears light-hearted and "playing" with his "tail-wagging," he will soon be bound with his ice-cold son's guts on a sharp rock by the gods. Loki says that, even if this is his fate, that he was "first and foremost" with the other gods at the killing of Skaði's father, Þjazi. Skaði says that, with these events in mind, "baneful advice" will always come from her "sanctuaries and plains" to Loki. Loki says that Skaði was once gentler in speech to him (referring to himself as the "son of Laufey") when Skaði once invited him to her bed (an event that is unattested elsewhere), and that such events must be mentioned if they are to recall "shameful deeds."[18]

Sif, wife of Thor, goes forth and pours Loki a glass of mead into a crystal cup in a prose narrative. Continuing the poem, Sif welcomes Loki and invites him to take a crystal cup filled with ancient mead, and says that among the children of the Æsir, she is singularly blameless. Loki "takes the horn," drinks it, and says that she would be, if it were so, and states that Sif had a lover beside Thor, namely, Loki himself (an event that is otherwise unattested). Beyla (referred to in the prose introduction to the poem as a servant of Freyr) says that all of the mountains are shaking, that she thinks Thor must be on his way home, and when Thor arrives he will bring peace to those that quarrel there. Loki tells Beyla to be silent, that she is "much imbued with malice," that no worse female has ever been among the "Æsir's children," and calling her a bad "serving-wench."[19]

The arrival of Thor and the bondage of Loki

Thor arrives, and tells Loki to be silent, referring to him as an "evil creature," stating that with his hammer Mjöllnir he will silence Loki by hammering his head from his shoulders. Acknowledging that Thor has arrived, Loki asks Thor why he is raging, and says that Thor won't be so bold to fight against the wolf when he swallows Odin at Ragnarök. Thor again tells Loki to be silent, and threatens him with Mjöllnir, adding that he will throw Loki "up on the roads to the east," and thereafter no one will be able to see Loki. Loki states that Thor should never brag of his journeys to the east, claiming that there Thor crouched cowering in the thumb of a glove, mockingly referring to him as a "hero," and adding that such behaviour was unlike Thor. Thor responds by telling Loki to be silent, threatening him with Mjöllnir, and adding that every one of Loki's bones will be broken with it. Loki says he intends to live for a long while yet despite Thor's threats, and taunts Thor about an encounter Thor once had with the Skrýmir (Útgarða-Loki in disguise). Thor again commands Loki to be silent, threatens Loki with Mjöllnir, and says he will send Loki to Hel, below the gates of Nágrind.[20]

In response to Thor, Loki says that he "spoke before the Æsir," and "before the sons of the Æsir" what his "spirit urged" him to say, yet before Thor alone he will leave, as he knows that Thor does strike. Loki ends the poetic verses of Lokasenna with a final stanza:

Ale you brewed, Ægir, and you will never again hold a feast;
all your possessions which are here inside—
may flame play over them,
and may your back be burnt![21]

Following this final stanza a prose section details that after Loki left the hall, he disguised himself as a salmon and hid in the waterfall of Franangrsfors, where the Æsir caught him. The narrative continues that Loki was bound with the entrails of his son Nari, and his son Narfi changed into a wolf. Skaði fastened a venomous snake over Loki's face, and from it poison dripped. Sigyn, Loki's wife, sat with him holding a basin beneath the dripping venom, yet when the basin became full, she carried the poison away; and during this time the poison dripped on to Loki, causing him to writhe with such violence that all of the earth shook from the force, resulting in what are now known as earthquakes.[22]

Þrymskviða

In the poem Þrymskviða, Thor wakes and finds that his powerful hammer, Mjöllnir, is missing. Thor turns to Loki first, and tells him that nobody knows that the hammer has been stolen. The two then go to the court of the goddess Freyja, and Thor asks her if he may borrow her feather cloak so that he may attempt to find Mjöllnir. Freyja agrees, saying she'd lend it even if it were made of silver and gold, and Loki flies off, the feather cloak whistling.[23]

In Jötunheimr, the jötunn Þrymr sits on a burial mound, plaiting golden collars for his female dogs, and trimming the manes of his horses. Þrymr sees Loki, and asks what could be amiss among the Æsir and the Elves; why is Loki alone in the Jötunheimr? Loki responds that he has bad news for both the elves and the Æsir - that Thor's hammer, Mjöllnir, is gone. Þrymr says that he has hidden Mjöllnir eight leagues beneath the earth, from which it will be retrieved, if Freyja is brought to him as his wife. Loki flies off, the feather cloak whistling, away from Jötunheimr and back to the court of the gods.[24]

Thor asks Loki if his efforts were successful, and that Loki should tell him while he's still in the air as "tales often escape a sitting man, and the man lying down often barks out lies." Loki states that it was indeed an effort, and also a success, for he has discovered that Þrymr has the hammer, but that it cannot be retrieved unless Freyja is brought to Þrymr as his wife. The two return to Freyja, and tell her to dress herself in a bridal head dress, as they will drive her to Jötunheimr. Freyja, indignant and angry, goes into a rage, causing all of the halls of the Æsir to tremble in her anger, and her necklace, the famed Brísingamen, falls from her. Freyja pointedly refuses.[25]

As a result, the gods and goddesses meet and hold a thing to discuss and debate the matter. At the thing, the god Heimdallr puts forth the suggestion that, in place of Freyja, Thor should be dressed as the bride, complete with jewels, women's clothing down to his knees, a bridal head-dress, and the necklace Brísingamen. Thor rejects the idea, and Loki (here described as "son of Laufey") interjects that this will be the only way to get back Mjöllnir, and points out that without Mjöllnir, the jötnar will be able to invade and settle in Asgard. The gods dress Thor as a bride, and Loki states that he will go with Thor as his maid, and that the two shall drive to Jötunheimr together.[26]

After riding together in Thor's goat-driven chariot, the two, disguised, arrive in Jötunheimr. Þrymr commands the jötnar in his hall to spread straw on the benches, for Freyja has arrived to be his wife. Þrymr recounts his treasured animals and objects, stating that Freyja was all that he was missing in his wealth.[27]

Early in the evening, the disguised Loki and Thor meet with Þrymr and the assembled jötnar. Thor eats and drinks ferociously, consuming entire animals and three casks of mead. Þrymr finds the behaviour at odds with his impression of Freyja, and Loki, sitting before Þrymr and appearing as a "very shrewd maid", makes the excuse that "Freyja's" behaviour is due to her having not consumed anything for eight entire days before arriving due to her eagerness to arrive. Þrymr then lifts "Freyja's" veil and wants to kiss "her" until catching the terrifying eyes staring back at him, seemingly burning with fire. Loki states that this is because "Freyja" had not slept for eight nights in her eagerness.[27]

The "wretched sister" of the jötnar appears, asks for a bridal gift from "Freyja", and the jötnar bring out Mjöllnir to "sanctify the bride", to lay it on her lap, and marry the two by "the hand" of the goddess Vár. Thor laughs internally when he sees the hammer, takes hold of it, strikes Þrymr, beats all of the jötnar, and kills the "older sister" of the jötnar.[28]

Reginsmál

Loki appears in both prose and the first six stanzas of the poem Reginsmál. The prose introduction to Reginsmál details that, while the hero Sigurd was being fostered by Regin, son of Hreidmar, Regin tells him that once the gods Odin, Hœnir, and Loki went to Andvara-falls, which contained many fish. Regin, a dwarf, had two brothers; Andvari, who gained food by spending time in the Andvara-falls in the form of a pike, and Ótr, who would often go to the Andvara-falls in the form of an otter.[29]

While the three gods are at the falls, Ótr (in the form of an otter) catches a salmon and eats it on a river bank, his eyes shut, when Loki hits and kills him with a stone. The gods think that this is great, and flay the skin from the otter to make a bag. That night, the three gods stay with Hreidmar (the father of Regin, Andvari, and the now-dead Ótr) and show him their catches, including the skin of the otter. Upon seeing the skin, Regin and Hreidmar "seized them and made them ransom their lives" in exchange for filling the otterskin bag the gods had made with gold and covering the exterior of the bag with red gold.[29]

Loki is sent to retrieve the gold, and Loki goes to the goddess Rán, borrows her net, and then goes back to the Andvara-falls. At the falls, Loki spreads his net before Andvari (who is in the form of a pike), which Andvari jumps into. The stanzas of the poem then begin: Loki mocks Andvari, and tells him that he can save his head by telling Loki where his gold is. Andvari gives some background information about himself, including that he was cursed by a "norn of misfortune" in his "early days". Loki responds by asking Andvari "what requital" does mankind get if "they wound each other with words". Andvari responds that lying men receive a "terrible requital": having to wade in the river Vadgelmir, and that their suffering will be long.[30]

Loki looks over the gold that Andvari possesses, and after Andvari hands over all of his gold, Andvari holds on to but a single ring; the ring Andvarinaut, which Loki also takes. Andvari, now in the form of a dwarf, goes into a rock, and tells Loki that the gold will result in the death of two brothers, will cause strife between eight princes, and will be useless to everyone.[31]

Loki returns, and the three gods give Hreidmar the money from the gold hoard and flatten out the otter skin, stretch out its legs, and heap gold atop it, covering it. Hreidmar looks it over, and notices a single hair that has not been covered. Hreidmar demands that it be covered as well. Odin puts forth the ring Andvarinaut, covering the single hair.[31]

Loki states that they have now handed over the gold, and that gold is cursed as Andvari is, and that it will be the death of Hreidmar and Regin both. Hreidmar responds that if he had known this before, he would have taken their lives, yet that he believes those are not yet born whom the curse is intended for, and that he doesn't believe him. Further, with the hoard, he will have red gold for the rest of his life. Hreidmar tells them to leave, and the poem continues without further mention of Loki.[32]

Baldrs draumar

In Baldr draumar, Odin has awoken a deceased völva in Hel, and questions her repeatedly about his son Baldr's bad dreams. Loki is mentioned in stanza 14, the final stanza of the poem, where the völva tells Odin to ride home, to be proud of himself, and that no one else will come visit until "Loki is loose, escaped from his bonds" and the onset of Ragnarök.[33]

Hyndluljóð

Loki is referenced in two stanzas in Völuspá hin skamma, found within the poem Hyndluljóð. The first stanza notes that Loki produced "the wolf" with the jötunn Angrboða, that Loki himself gave birth to the horse Sleipnir by the stallion Svaðilfari, and that Loki (referred to as the "brother of Býleistr") thirdly gave birth to "the worst of all marvels". This stanza is followed by:

Loki ate some of the heart, the thought-stone of a woman,
roasted on a linden-wood fire, he found it half-cooked;
Lopt was impregnated by a wicked woman,
from whom every ogress on earth is descended.[34]

In the second of the two stanzas, Loki is referred to as Lopt. Loki's consumption of a woman's heart is otherwise unattested.[35]

Fjölsvinnsmál

In the poem Fjölsvinnsmál, a stanza mentions Loki (as Lopt) in association with runes. In the poem, Fjölsviðr describes to the hero Svipdagr that Sinmara keeps the weapon Lævateinn within a chest, locked with nine strong locks (due to significant translation differences, two translations of the stanza are provided here):

Fjolsvith spake:
"Lævatein is there, that Lopt with runes
Once made by the doors of death;
In Lægjarn's chest by Sinmora lies it,
And nine locks fasten it firm."[36]
Fiolsvith.
Hævatein the twig is named, and Lopt plucked it,
down by the gate of Death.
In an iron chest it lies with Sinmœra,
and is with nine strong locks secured.[37]

Prose Edda

Gylfaginning

The Prose Edda book Gylfaginning tells various myths featuring Loki, including Loki's role in the birth of the horse Sleipnir and Loki's contest with Logi, fire personified.

High's introduction

Loki first appears in the Prose Edda in chapter 20 of the book Gylfaginning, where he is referred to as the "ás called Loki" while the enthroned figure of Third explains to "Gangleri" (King Gylfi in disguise) the goddess Frigg's prophetic abilities while citing a stanza ofLokasenna.[38]

Loki is more formally introduced by High in chapter 34, where he is "reckoned among the Æsir", and High states that Loki is called by some "the Æsir's calumniator", "originator of deceits", and "the disgrace of all gods and men". High says that Loki's alternative name is Lopt, that he is the son of the male jötunn Farbauti, his mother is "Laufey or Nál", and his brothers are Helblindi and Býleistr. High describes Loki as "pleasing and handsome" in appearance, malicious in character, "very capricious in behaviour", and as possessing "to a greater degree than others" learned cunning, and "tricks for every purpose", often getting the Æsir into trouble, and then getting them out of it with his trickery. Loki's wife is named Sigyn, and they have a son named "Nari or Narfi". Otherwise, Loki had three children with the female jötunn Angrboða from Jötunheimr; the wolf Fenrir, the serpent Jörmungandr, and the female being Hel. The gods realized that these three children were being raised in Jötunheimr, and expected trouble from them partially due to the nature of Angrboða, but worse yet Loki.[39] In chapter 35, Gangleri comments that Loki produced a "pretty terrible"—yet important—family.[40]

Loki, Svaðilfari, and Sleipnir

In chapter 42, High tells a story set "right at the beginning of the gods' settlement, when the gods at established Midgard and built Val-Hall." The story is about an unnamed builder who has offered to build a fortification for the gods that will keep out invaders in exchange for the goddess Freyja, the sun, and the moon. After some debate, the gods agree to these conditions, but place a number of restrictions on the builder, including that he must complete the work within three seasons without the help of any man. The builder makes a single request; that he may have help from his stallion Svaðilfari, and due to Loki's influence, this is allowed. The stallion Svaðilfari performs twice the deeds of strength as the builder, and hauls enormous rocks—to the surprise of the gods. The builder, with Svaðilfari, makes fast progress on the wall, and three days before the deadline of summer, the builder is nearly at the entrance to the fortification. The gods convene, and figure out who is responsible, resulting in a unanimous agreement that, along with most trouble, Loki is to blame (here referred to as Loki Laufeyjarson—his surname derived from his mother's name, Laufey).[41]

he gods declare that Loki deserves a horrible death if he cannot find a scheme that will cause the builder to forfeit his payment, and threaten to attack him. Loki, afraid, swears oaths that he will devise a scheme to cause the builder to forfeit the payment, whatever it may cost himself. That night, the builder drives out to fetch stone with his stallion Svaðilfari, and out from a wood runs a mare. The mare neighs at Svaðilfari, and "realizing what kind of horse it was," Svaðilfari becomes frantic, neighs, tears apart his tackle, and runs towards the mare. The mare runs to the wood, Svaðilfari follows, and the builder chases after. The two horses run around all night, causing the building to be halted and the builder is then unable to regain the previous momentum of his work.[42]

The builder goes into a rage, and when the Æsir realize that the builder is a hrimthurs, they disregard their previous oaths with the builder, and call for Thor. Thor arrives, and subsequently kills the builder by smashing the builder's skull into shards with the hammer Mjöllnir. However, Loki "had such dealings" with Svaðilfari that "somewhat later" Loki gives birth to a gray foal with eight legs; the horse Sleipnir—"the best horse among gods and men."[42]

Loki, Útgarða-Loki, and Logi

In chapter 44, Third reluctantly relates a tale where Thor and Loki are riding in Thor's chariot, which is pulled by his two goats. Loki and Thor stop at the house of a peasant farmer, and there they are given lodging for a night. Thor slaughters his goats, prepares them, puts them in a pot, and Loki and Thor sit down for their evening meal. Thor invites the peasant family who own the farm to share with him the meal he has prepared, but warns them not to break the bones. Afterward, at the suggestion of Loki, the peasant child Þjálfi sucks the bone marrow from one of the goat bones, and when Thor goes to resurrect the goats, he finds one of the goats to be lame. In their terror, the family atones to Thor by giving Thor their son Þjálfi and their daughter Röskva.[43]

Minus the goats, Thor, Loki, and the two children continue east until they arrive at a vast forest in Jötunheimr. They continue through the woods until dark. The four seek shelter for the night. They encounter an immense building. Finding shelter in a side room, they experience earthquakes through the night. The earthquakes cause all four but Thor, who grips his hammer in preparation of defense, to be fearful. The building turns out to be the huge glove of Skrymir, who has been snoring throughout the night, causing what seemed to be earthquakes. All four sleep beneath an oak tree near Skrymir in fear.[44]

Thor wakes up in the middle of the night, and a series of events occur where Thor twice attempts to kill the sleeping Skrýmir with his hammer. Skrýmir awakes after each attempt, only to say that he detected an acorn falling on his head or that he wonders if bits of tree from the branches above have fallen on top of him. The second attempt awakes Skrýmir. Skrýmir gives them advice; if they are going to be cocky at the keep of Útgarðr it would be better for them to turn back now, for Útgarða-Loki's men there won't put up with it. Skrýmir throws his knapsack onto his back and abruptly goes into the forest. High comments that "there is no report that the Æsir expressed hope for a happy reunion".[45]

The four travelers continue their journey until midday. They find themselves facing a massive castle in an open area. The castle is so tall that they must bend their heads back to their spines to see above it. At the entrance to the castle is a shut gate, and Thor finds that he cannot open it. Struggling, all four squeeze through the bars of the gate, and continue to a large hall. Inside the great hall are two benches, where many generally large people sit on two benches. The four see Útgarða-Loki, the king of the castle, sitting.[46]

Útgarða-Loki says that no visitors are allowed to stay unless they can perform a feat. Loki, standing in the rear of the party, is the first to speak, claiming that he can eat faster than anyone. Útgarða-Loki comments that this would be a feat indeed, and calls for a being by the name of Logi to come from the benches. A trencher is fetched, placed on the floor of the hall, and filled with meat. Loki and Logi sit down on opposing sides. The two eat as quickly as they can and meet at the midpoint of the trencher. Loki consumed all of the meat off of the bones on his side, yet Logi had not only consumed his meat, but also the bones and the trencher itself. It was evident to all that Loki had lost. In turn, Þjálfi races against a figure by the name of Hugi three times and thrice loses.[47]

Thor agrees to compete in a drinking contest but after three immense gulps fails. Thor agrees to lift a large, gray cat in the hall but finds that it arches his back no matter what he does, and that he can only raise a single paw. Thor demands to fight someone in the hall, but the inhabitants say doing so would be demeaning, considering Thor's weakness. Útgarða-Loki then calls for his nurse Elli, an old woman. The two wrestle but the harder Thor struggles the more difficult the battle becomes. Thor is finally brought down to a single knee. Útgarða-Loki says to Thor that fighting anyone else would be pointless. Now late at night, Útgarða-Loki shows the group to their rooms and they are treated with hospitality.[48]

The next morning the group gets dressed and prepares to leave the keep. Útgarða-Loki appears, has his servants prepare a table, and they all merrily eat and drink. As they leave, Útgarða-Loki asks Thor how he thought he fared in the contests. Thor says that he is unable to say he did well, noting that he is particularly annoyed that Útgarða-Loki will now speak negatively about him. Útgarða-Loki points out that the group has left his keep and says that he hopes that they never return to it, for if he had an inkling of what he was dealing with he would never have allowed the group to enter in the first place. Útgarða-Loki reveals that all was not what it seemed to the group. Útgarða-Loki was in fact the immense Skrýmir, and that if the three blows Thor attempted to land had hit their mark, the first would have killed Skrýmir. In reality, Thor's blows were so powerful that they had resulted in three square valleys.[49]

The contests, too, were an illusion. Útgarða-Loki reveals that Loki had actually competed against wildfire itself (Logi, Old Norse "flame"), Þjálfi had raced against thought (Hugi, Old Norse "thought"), Thor's drinking horn had actually reached to the ocean and with his drinks he lowered the ocean level (resulting in tides). The cat that Thor attempted to lift was in actuality the world serpent, Jörmungandr, and everyone was terrified when Thor was able to lift the paw of this "cat", for Thor had actually held the great serpent up to the sky. The old woman Thor wrestled was in fact old age (Elli, Old Norse "old age"), and there is no one that old age cannot bring down. Útgarða-Loki tells Thor that it would be better for "both sides" if they did not meet again. Upon hearing this, Thor takes hold of his hammer and swings it at Útgarða-Loki but he is gone and so is his castle. Only a wide landscape remains.[50]

Norwegian rune poem

Loki is mentioned in stanza 13 of the Norwegian rune poem in connection with the Younger Futhark Bjarkan rune:

Old Norse:
Bjarkan er laufgrønster líma;
Loki bar flærða tíma.[51]
Modern English:
Birch has the greenest leaves of any shrub;
Loki was fortunate in his deceit.[52]

According to Bruce Dickins, the reference to "Loki's deceit" in the poem "is doubtless to Loki's responsibility for Balder's death."[52]

Archaeological record

Snaptun Stone[edit]

In 1950, a semi-circular flat stone featuring a depiction of a mustachioed face was discovered on a beach near Snaptun, Denmark. Made of soapstone that originated in Norway or Sweden, the depiction was carved around the year 1000 CE and features a face with a curled mustache and scarred lips. The figure is identified as Loki due to the lips, considered a reference to a tale recorded in Skáldskaparmál where sons of Ivaldi stitch up Loki's lips.[53]

The stone is identified as a hearth stone; the nozzle of the bellows would be inserted into the hole in the front of the stone, and the air produced by the bellows pushed flame through the top hole, all the while the bellows were protected from the heat and flame. The stone may point to a connection between Loki and smithing and flames. According to Hans Jørgen Madsen, the Snaptun Stone is "the most beautifully made hearth-stone that is known." The stone is housed and on display at the Moesgård Museum near Aarhus, Denmark.[53]

Kirkby Stephen Stone and Gosforth Cross

A fragmentary late 10th century cross located in St Stephen's Church, Kirkby StephenCumbriaEngland features a bound figure with horns and a beard. This figure is sometimes theorized as depicting the bound Loki.[54]Discovered in 1870, the stone consists of yellowish-white sandstone, and now sits at the front of the Kirkby Stephen church. A depiction of a similarly horned and round-shouldered figure was discovered in Gainford, County Durham and is now housed in the Durham Cathedral Library.[55]

The mid-11th century Gosforth Cross has been interpreted as featuring various figures from Norse mythology and, like the Kirkby Stephen Stone, is also located in Cumbria. The bottom portion of the west side of the cross features a depiction of a long-haired female, kneeling figure holding an object above another prostrate, bound figure. Above and to their left is a knotted serpent. This has been interpreted as Sigyn soothing the bound Loki.[56]

Folklore

The notion of Loki survived into the modern period in the folklore of Scandinavia. In Denmark, Loki appeared as Lokke. In Jutland, the phrases "Lokke slår sin havre" ("Lokke is reaping his oats") and "Lokkemand driver sine geder" ("Lokkemand drives his goats") are thereby recorded in the beginning of the 20th century, the latter with the variation of simply "Lokke". In Zealand the name "Lokke lejemand" ("Lokke the Playing Man") was used. In his study of Loki's appearance in Scandinavian folklore in the modern period, Danish folklorist Axel Olrik cites numerous examples of natural phenomena explained by way of Lokke in popular folk tradition, including rising heat. An example from 1841 reads as follows:

The expressions: "Lokke (Lokki) sår havre i dag" (Lokke (Lokki) sows oats today), or: "Lokke driver i dag med sine geder" (Lokke herds his goats today), are used in several regions of Jutland, for example in Medelsom shire, the diocese of Viborgetc. ... and stand for the sight in the springtime, when the sunshine generates vapour from the ground, which can be seen as fluttering or shimmering air in the horizon of the flat landscape, similar to the hot steam over a kettle or a burning fire

And in Thy, from the same source: "... when you look at the horizon in clear weather and sunshine, and the air seems to move in shimmering waves, or like a sheet of water which seems to rise and sink in waves." Olrik further cites several different types of plants named after Loki. Olrik detects three major themes in folklore attestations; Lokke appeared as an "air phenomenon", connected with the "home fire", and as a "teasing creature of the night".[57]

Loka Táttur or Lokka Táttur (Faroese "tale—or þáttr—of Loki") is a Faroese ballad dating to the late Middle Ages that features the gods Loki, Odin, and Hœnir helping a farmer and a boy escape the wraith of a bet-winning jötunn. The tale notably features Loki as a benevolent god in this story, although his slyness is in evidence as usual.[58]

Theories

Loki's origins and role in Norse mythology have been much debated by scholars. In 1835, Jacob Grimm was first to produce a major theory about Loki, in which he advanced the notion of Loki as a "god of fire". In 1889, Sophus Bugge theorized Loki to be variant ofLucifer of Christian mythology, an element of Bugge's larger effort to find a basis of Christianity in Norse mythology. After World War II, four scholarly theories dominated. The first of the four theories is that of Folke Ström, who in 1956 concluded that Loki is ahypostasis of the god Odin. In 1959, Jan de Vries theorized that Loki is a typical example of a trickster figure. In 1961, by way of excluding all non-Scandinavian mythological parallels in her analysis, Anna Birgitta Rooth concluded that Loki was originally a spider.Anne Holtsmark, writing in 1962, concluded that no conclusion could be made about Loki.[59]

Regarding scholarship on Loki, scholar Gabriel Turville-Petre comments (1964) that "more ink has been spilled on Loki than on any other figure in Norse myth. This, in itself, is enough to show how little scholars agree, and how far we are from understanding him."[60]

A popular theory proposed by the scholar Ursula Dronke is that Lóðurr is "a third name of Loki/Loptr. The main argument for this is that the gods Odin, Hœnir and Loki occur as a trio in Haustlöng, in the prose prologue to Reginsmál and also in the Loka Táttur aFaroese ballad which is a rare example of the occurrence of Norse gods in folklore. The Odin-kenning "Lóðurr's friend" furthermore appears to parallel the kenning "Loptr's friend" and Loki is similarly referred to as "Hœnir's friend" in Haustlöng, strengthening the trio connection. While many scholars agree with this identification, it is not universally accepted. One argument against it is that Loki appears as a malevolent being later in Völuspá, seemingly conflicting with the image of Lóðurr as a "mighty and loving" figure. Many scholars, including Jan de Vries and Georges Dumézil, have also identified Lóðurr as being the same deity as Loki.Haukur Þorgeirsson of the University of Iceland suggested that Loki and Lóðurr where different names of the same deity based on that Loki is referred to as Lóður in the rimur Lokrur. Þorgeirsson argues that whatever if the rimur is based on Snorri's Gylfaginning or a folksource the writer must have had the information about the identification from either a tradition or drawing the conclusion based on Edda poems, since Snorri does not mention Lóðurr in his Edda. Since the contents of the Poetic Edda is assumed to have been forgotten around 1400 when the rimur was written Þorgeirsson argues for a traditional identification. Þorgeirsson also points to Þrymlur where the same identification is made with Loki and Lóðurr. Haukur Þorgeirsson says that unless the possible but unlikely idea that the 14th and 15th century poets possessed lost written sources unknown to us, the idea must have come from either an unlikely amount of sources from where the poets could have drawn a similar conclusion that Loki and Lóðurr are identical like some recent scholars or that there still were remnants of an oral tradition. Þorgeirsson concludes that if Lóðurr was historically considered an independent deity from Loki, then a discussion of when and why he became identified with Loki is appropriate.[61] On the other hand, since Háleygjatal and Íslendingadrápa are preserved in Snorri's Edda and Hemiskringla, one could argue that the 14th and 15th century poets used that information to identify Lóðurr with Loki. Then again, the poets would be able to connect Lóðurr to the common Odin, Hœnir and Loki trio from which Dronke drew her theory without Völuspa which is considered to be lost at the time.

In her review of scholarly discourse involving Loki, scholar Stefanie von Schnurbein (2000) comments that "Loki, the outsider in the Northern Germanic pantheon, confounds not only his fellow deities and chronicler Snorri Sturluson [referring to the Prose Edda] but has occasioned as much quarrel among his interpreters. Hardly a monography, article, or encyclopedic entry does not begin with the reference to Loki as a staggeringly complex, confusing, and ambivalent figure who has been the catalyst of countless unresolved scholarly controversies and has elicited more problems than solutions".[62]

Modern popular culture

Loki has been depicted in or is referenced in an array of media in modern popular culture. During the 19th century, Loki was depicted in a variety of manners, sometimes strongly at odds. According to Stefan Arvidssen, "the conception of Loki varied during the nineteenth century. Sometimes he was presented as a dark-haired Semitic fifth columnist among the Nordic Aesir, but sometimes he was described as a Nordic Prometheus, a heroic bearer of culture".[63] Famously, Loki appears in Richard Wagner's opera cycleRing of the Nibelung as Loge (a play on Old Norse loge "fire"). He is depicted as an ally of the gods (specifically Wotan's assistant rather than Donner's), although he generally dislikes them and thinks of them as greedy, as they refuse to return the Rhine Gold to its rightful owners. In the conclusion of the first opera Das Rheingold he reveals his hope to turn into fire and destroy Valhalla, and in the final opera Götterdämmerung Valhalla is set alight, destroying the Gods.[64]

Loki appears as a Marvel Comics supervillain where he consistently comes into conflict with the superhero Thor, in the Marvel universe his adopted brother and archenemy[65] This version of Loki is played by Tom Hiddleston in the movies Thor (2011), The Avengers(2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Thor: Ragnarok (2017).

Loki appears in the 1975 fantasy novel Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones. He is also a central character in Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods.[66] and an important character in a few arcs of Gaiman's comic The Sandman.[67]

Loki (Loke) is the subject of Amon Amarth's 2013 concept album Deceiver of the Gods.

Loki is the owner of The Mask worn by the protagonist Stanley Ipkiss from the 1994 Hollywood live-action film which starred Jim Carrey into the title role. However, in the comics-based version that is published by Dark Horse Comics, the Mask was based from ancestor-worship rituals of African tribes.

Discovered in 2008, Loki's Castle, a group of five of the most northernly black smokers known, takes its name from the god. The vent field was given the name Loki's Castle as its shape reminded its discoverers of a fantasy castle. The reference to Loki is explained by a University of Bergen press release as "an appropriate name for a field that was so difficult to locate".[68]

Loki is one of the incarnated gods in the New Zealand comedy/drama "The Almighty Johnsons". The part of Colin Gundersen/Loki is played by Shane Cortese.[69]

In the TV series, Supernatural, a character named Gabriel is an angel that goes by the name Loki to escape from Heaven. He is portrayed by Richard Speight, Jr.

Loki is an Assassin in the MOBA game Smite.[70]

Hawkeye

Hawkeye (Clint Barton) is a fictional superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck, the character first appeared as a villain in Tales of Suspense#57 (Sept. 1964) and later joined the Avengers in Avengers #16 (May 1965). He has been a prominent member of the team ever since. He was also ranked at #44 on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes list.[2]

Hawkeye is portrayed by Jeremy Renner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a shared fictional universe that is the setting of films produced by Marvel Studios. Renner first made an uncredited cameo appearance as Hawkeye in Thor (2011) and later played a larger role in The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015); he will reprise the role in the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War (2016).

Publication history

Hawkeye was introduced as a reluctant villain in Tales of Suspense #57 (September 1964). After two more appearances as a villain in Tales of Suspense #60 and #64 (December 1964 and April 1965), Hawkeye joined the ranks of the Avengers in Avengers Vol.1 #16 (May 1965). He became a perennial member of the team and has made numerous appearances in all five volumes (Vol. 1 (1963–1996), Vol. 2 (1997), Vol. 3 (1999–2004), Vol. 4 (2010–2013), Vol. 5 (2013–present) including specials and annuals), as well as in The Ultimates. Hawkeye was also part of the Avengers in Secret Wars #1–12 (1984–1985).

Hawkeye featured prominently in the limited series West Coast Avengers #1–4 (September 1984–December 1984), before appearing in the ongoing title, which ran for 102 issues (including eight annuals) from October 1985–January 1994. The title was renamed Avengers West Coast from #46 (Aug. 1989). Hawkeye also starred concurrently in almost every issue of Solo Avengers which ran for 40 issues from December 1987–January 1991 (the title was renamed Avengers Spotlight from #21, the August 1989 issue).

From 1998 to 2002, Hawkeye featured significantly in issues #20–75 and Annual #2000 of the title Thunderbolts, written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza. He appeared as a supporting character in Avengers Academy from issue #21 (Jan 2012) through its final issue #39 (Jan 2013) and as team leader in Secret Avengers from issue #22 (Feb 2012) through its final issue, #37 (Feb 2013). Hawkeye appeared in Vol. 2 (2013) of Secret Avengers by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross.[3] Hawkeye appeared as a regular character in the 2010-2013 Secret Avengers series, from issue #21.1 (March 2012) through its final issue #37 (March 2013).

Hawkeye featured in the Marvel crossover event House of M (2005). He later appeared (as Ronin) in the New Avengers series from issues #26–64 (2007–2010) plus New AvengersAnnual #2 (2008) and Annual #3 (2010). Continuing as Ronin, the character played an important part in the crossover event Secret Invasion #1–8 (2008). The company wide crossover event Dark Reign saw Hawkeye feature prominently in New Avengers: The Reunion #1–4 (2009) and Dark Reign: The List - New Avengers #1 (2009). He later went on to feature in theSiege #1–4 (2010) crossover event.

Hawkeye has appeared in numerous solo adventures over the years. He appeared in Hawkeye Vol. 1 #1–4 (1983), written by Mark Gruenwald (which was the character's first encounter with Mockingbird and the villain Crossfire). Hawkeye then appeared in Hawkeye Vol.2 #1–4 (1994) and Hawkeye: Earth's Mightiest Marksman #1 (1998). In 2003, Hawkeye had a short lived on-going series, Hawkeye Vol. 3, #1–8, which was soon cancelled. Writer Jim McCann and artist David Lopez had another unsuccessful attempt at an ongoing series with Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1–6 (2010). The series did however spin into two limited series, beginning with Widowmaker #1–4 (2010–2011) and then Hawkeye: Blindspot #1–4 (2011). A fourth volume of Hawkeye began in August 2012 by the creative team of writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja, which features a partnership with his protege, Kate Bishop.[4] A fifth volume, entitled All-New Hawkeye, began in March 2015, written by Jeff Lemire with art by Ramon Perez.

Over the years, Hawkeye has made guest appearances in numerous Marvel titles, the most notable being Daredevil Vol.1 #99 (1973), Incredible Hulk Vol.1 #166 (1973), Marvel Team-Up #22 (1974), Ghost Rider #27 (1977), Marvel Team-Up #92 (1980), Marvel Fanfare #3 (1982), Captain America #317 (1986), Contest of Champions II #3-5 (1999), Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #3 (2008), War Machine Vol.2 #8-10 (2009), Young Avengers Presents #6 (2008) and Captain America: Reborn #3-6 (2009–2010).

Fictional character biography

Clint Barton was born in Waverly, Iowa. At a young age he lost both of his parents in a car accident. After six years in an orphanage, Clint and his brother Barney ran away to join the Carson Carnival of Travelling Wonders.[5] Clint soon caught the eye of the Swordsman, who took the young boy on as his assistant. Along with the help of Trick Shot, the Swordsman trained Clint to become a master archer.[6] Clint later found the Swordsman embezzling money from the carnival. Before he could turn his mentor over to the authorities, Clint was beaten and left for dead, allowing the Swordsman to escape town.[7] Clint's relationship with his brother Barney and Trick Shot soon deteriorated as well.[8]

Clint adapted his archery skills to become a star carnival attraction, a master archer called "Hawkeye", otherwise known as “The World’s Greatest Marksman”. He spent some time as a member of Tiboldt's Circus,[9]before joining the Coney Island Circus. He witnessed Iron Man in action and was inspired to become a costumed hero. However, after a misunderstanding on his first outing, Hawkeye was accused of theft and believed to be a criminal. On the run, the naive Hawkeye met the Black Widow, a spy for the Soviet Union, with whom he fell in love. Blindly following the Black Widow, Hawkeye aided her attempts to steal technology developed by Tony Stark. In one of their battles with Iron Man, the Black Widow was seriously injured. Hawkeye rescued her and fled the battle to save her life. But before Hawkeye could take her to a hospital, the Black Widow disappeared. Hawkeye decided to be a "straight-shooter" from then on.[10]

Avengers

Hawkeye later rescues Edwin Jarvis and his mother from a mugger. In gratitude, Jarvis invites Hawkeye to Avengers Mansion and stages a confrontation to allow the archer to clear his name and gain the trust of the Avengers.[11] Hawkeye is then sponsored by his former enemy Iron Man, who sees that he is serious about becoming a hero. Led by Captain America, Hawkeye joins the team along with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to form the second incarnation of the Avengers.[12] Almost straight away, Hawkeye clashes with his fellow Avengers. His romantic intentions towards the Scarlet Witch are met with hostility from her brother, Quicksilver. Hawkeye rebels against Captain America’s leadership (due to his past problems with authority figures), but over time comes to respect him as a mentor and a friend.[13] When the Swordsman attempted to join the Avengers, Hawkeye warned them of his previous history with the villain.[14]

awkeye enjoys many adventures with the Avengers and proves himself a hero on numerous occasions. However, when his bow breaks during a crucial moment in a battle, Clint decides to adopt a new costume and identity by succeeding Hank Pym as the new Goliath.[15] Hawkeye (as Goliath) was later approached by his brother Barney, who had become a big-time racketeer. Barney had learned of Egghead's plans to construct an orbiting laser death-ray to extort money from the United States and came to the Avengers for help. The Avengers confronted Egghead and his allies, the Mad Thinker and the Puppet Master. Tragically, Barney died in the ensuing battle.[16] (It was later revealed that Barney Barton was actually an undercover FBI agent.)[17] Soon after this encounter, Egghead hires the Swordsman to capture Goliath (thinking him to be Hank Pym instead of Clint). Clint defeats and captures both criminals, finding justice for his brother at last. At the conclusion of the Kree-Skrull War Clint resumes the identity of Hawkeye with a new costume. After several adventures, Hawkeye quits the Avengers after a bitter rift with the Vision over the affections of the Scarlet Witch. Hawkeye returns to his original costume and strikes out on his own.[18]

For a time, Hawkeye drifts from one adventure to the next. He attempts to return to the Black Widow and briefly battles her current love, Daredevil.[19] Hawkeye later assists the Hulkagainst the monster Zzzax.[20] He then follows the Hulk back to the mansion of Doctor Strange, where after a skirmish, Hawkeye joins the "non-team" the Defenders for a short period.[21] He returns briefly to the Avengers to attend the wedding of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch.[22] Together with the Two-Gun Kid and Ghost Rider, Hawkeye defeats the monster the Manticore.[23]

Hawkeye returns to the Avengers when the current members of the team begin to mysteriously disappear.[24] The remaining Avengers discover it to be the work of the Collector of theElders of the Universe. After his teammates were all defeated, Hawkeye single-handedly defeats the Collector,[25] and joins the team for the final battle against Korvac.[26] Afterwards, Hawkeye's victory is dashed when the Avengers new government liaison Henry Peter Gyrich, limits the roster and replaces him with the Falcon, in an attempt to make the team more "politically acceptable". After initially failing to find work in his civilian identity, Hawkeye gains employment with Cross Technological Enterprises as the Head of Security. He defends the company against the Shi'ar villain Deathbird,[27] Mister Fear,[28] and sabotages a plot by C.T.E. employee Ambrose Connors.[29] Hawkeye then returns to Avengers mansion several months later for a brief visit "induced" by the heroine Moondragon[30] before rejoining for a sustained period.[31] Hawkeye returns to Carson Carnival of Travelling Wonders to aid Marcella Carson, the owner’s daughter, against the Taskmaster. He defeats the villain with the help of Ant-Man.[32] Later, Hawkeye inadvertently avenges the death of his brother. The villain Egghead, having been exposed for framing Henry Pym, attempts to shoot Pym but Hawkeye jams the barrel of the weapon with an arrow. The weapon is an energy pistol and explodes, killing Egghead instantly.[33]

Marriage to Mockingbird

Returning to work for Cross Technological Enterprises as Head of Security, Hawkeye meets the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Barbara "Bobbi" Morse, also known as the hero Mockingbird. Together, they discover that Crossfire, cousin of the company’s original owner, was hatching a plot to destroy the superhero community via an aggression-inducing sonic weapon. Hawkeye and Mockingbird manage to defeat him (although Hawkeye is rendered deaf when he uses a sonic arrow to counter Crossfire's weapon) and the two heroes get married shortly afterwards.[34] At the direction of then-Avengers chair the Vision, Hawkeye (now using a hearing aid) and Mockingbird travel to Los Angeles to establish a west coast branch of the Avengers, known as the West Coast Avengers.[35] While searching for a base of operations, Hawkeye and Mockingbird battle a vengeful Crossfire, who had recently broken out of prison. They manage to defeat the supervillain, aided by former actress Moira Brandon, who later allows her mansion to become the new Avengers Compound.[36] On one of the West Coast Avengers adventures, when the team was lost in time, Mockingbird was kidnapped by an Old Western hero called Lincoln Slade, the Phantom Rider. The Phantom Rider drugs Mockingbird, convinces her that they are in love, and forces her to engage in a sexual relationship. Mockingbird soon regains her senses. In the resulting battle between the two, Mockingbird allows the Phantom Rider to fall to his death.[37] Afterwards, when Mockingbird confesses what she did, Hawkeye is stunned that his wife would allow a man to die instead of facing justice. Their relationship becomes frayed as Mockingbird leaves the West Coast Avengers and separates from Hawkeye.[38]

Hawkeye is challenged to a duel to the death by his former mentor Trick Shot. Hawkeye reluctantly accepts the challenge and wins. Trick Shot reveals that he is dying with cancer and wants to die honourably in battle. Hawkeye, instead of granting his former mentor’s wish, promises to fund his medical care.[39] Later, when Crossfire places a bounty on Hawkeye’s right arm, Trick Shot (whose cancer had gone into remission) returns to aid his former pupil. Along with Mockingbird, the two archers defeat an army of supervillains looking to lay claim to the bounty.[40] After this altercation with Crossfire, Hawkeye tells Mockingbird that he was wrong to blame her for what happened with the Phantom Rider. The pair soon reconcile.[41] After being shot while confronting criminals, Hawkeye adopts an armoured version of his costume to battle the gangs of Los Angeles.[42]

The West Coast Avengers are then caught in the middle of a supernatural battle between Mephisto and Satannish. The team are able to defeat the two demons and force them back to their own realms. However, Mephisto retaliates by firing energy blasts at the escaping West Coast Avengers. Mockingbird sacrifices herself to save Hawkeye and dies in her husbands arms.[43] Embittered by Mockingbird's death, Hawkeye leaves the team, which is disbanded almost immediately afterwards.[44] Hawkeye isolates himself in the Canadian Rockies to separate himself from the world. He is soon forced to battle the Secret Empire. He manages to defeat Viper, the leader of the Secret Empire, and her hired supervillains, Javelynn and his old mentor Trick Shot.[45]

Hawkeye returns to the Avengers[46] just prior to the battle with the entity Onslaught, in which the Avengers (including Hawkeye) are apparently killed.[47] Franklin Richards, however, transported them all to a pocket universe where the heroes led altered lives.[48] The heroes eventually learned the truth and they were returned to their own universe. Hawkeye's hearing was fully restored because, when Franklin Richards recreated the heroes in the new universe, he based them on how he remembered them.[49]

Thunderbolts

Hawkeye remains with the Avengers for numerous adventures. He aids Avenger trainees Justice and Firestar to defeat the Taskmaster and Albino.[50] Hawkeye later resigns the Avengers to assume leadership of the first generation of the Thunderbolts, who had broken away from the influence of Baron Helmut Zemo.[51] Hawkeye trains the team in the fashion of former teammate Captain America, and shapes the team into a cohesive fighting unit. The Thunderbolts take on threats like the Masters of Evil,[52] Graviton,[53] and the Scourge of the Underworld.[54] Hawkeye begins a romantic relationship with fellow Thunderbolts member Moonstone, who Hawkeye is proving to be a good influence on.[55] Later, Hawkeye and the Thunderbolts travel to Hell to save the soul of Mockingbird. They defeat the demonic Mephisto, but Hawkeye is unable to find his wife.[56] To ensure that his Thunderbolts are given full pardons, Hawkeye allows himself to be arrested in their place. The Thunderbolts' past crimes are erased on the condition that they retire from costumed heroics. The team reluctantly agrees.[57] Later, when Hawkeye had gotten out of prison, the team comes back together to defeat Graviton once again. Convinced that they are ready to be heroes in their own right, Hawkeye hands leadership of the Thunderbolts to Citizen V (whose mind was actually under the control of Baron Helmut Zemo) and leaves the team.[58]

Death and House of M

Hawkeye joins the Avengers once more, and begins a brief romantic relationship with team member the Wasp.[59] He also embarks on some solo adventures where he uncovers a plot to steal an ancient artifact in Laos,[60] and investigates the murder of a former Soviet colonel.[61] The Scarlet Witch, driven mad by her powers, causes a Kree warship to appear over the skies of New York. The Avengers, surprised by the appearance of the spacecraft, spring into battle. During the battle, Hawkeye's quiver of arrows is set on fire. Knowing that the explosive arrows were going to blow faster than he could remove them, Hawkeye flies into the engines of the Kree warship, destroying the spacecraft and sacrificing himself to save his teammates.[62] A past version of Hawkeye is also plucked from time by the Time Variance Authority to serve as a juror in a case involving former Avengers teammate She-Hulk. She-Hulk tries unsuccessfully to warn Hawkeye as to his future.[63]

When the Scarlet Witch inadvertently alters reality, Hawkeye is resurrected with no memory of previous events.[64] When a young mutant named Layla Miller gives several heroes (including Hawkeye) the ability to remember, he is horrified at the Scarlet Witch's actions. Hawkeye shoots Wanda in the back with an arrow. In retaliation, one of her recreated children wipes Hawkeye from existence, killing him once more. When the Scarlet Witch's reality is eventually undone, Hawkeye is still presumed dead. However, the recently formed New Avengers find his bow and arrows on the site of the old Avengers Mansion, pinning up an article about his death.[65]

Return and New Avengers

Unknown to the New Avengers, Hawkeye is resurrected once reality was restored. He seeks out Doctor Strange, who offers Hawkeye shelter while he comes to terms with his new life. Against the advice of Dr. Strange, Hawkeye eventually travels to Wundagore Mountain and finds the Scarlet Witch living a normal life with no memory of her past and apparently without mutant abilities. The two become intimate and Hawkeye then leaves Wanda to her normal life.[66] Returning to the United States, Hawkeye learns about the assassination of Captain America. He confronts Tony Stark, who then offers Hawkeye the Captain America shield and costume to continue the legacy. Hawkeye is later inspired by the words of Kate Bishop, whom he met while hiding his identity, and rejects Stark's offer.[67]

Hawkeye returns to see Dr. Strange and meets the New Avengers. The team invites Hawkeye to join the team. Hawkeye accepts, and accompanies the team on a mission to Japan to rescue Echo. However, leaving behind his Hawkeye identity, Clint Barton takes on the disguise of Ronin.[68] Echo, the original Ronin, later gives Barton her blessing to adopt her old identity.[69] Clint later meets Kate Bishop again, but this time reveals his true identity, much to Kate's surprise. Impressed with Kate's skill with a bow, and the fact she reminds him of himself at her age, Clint blesses Kate to continue using the Hawkeye codename.[70]

Clint (as Ronin) was part of the New Avengers team that head to the Savage Land after a tip from Spider-Woman that a Skrull ship had crash landed there. Emerging from the crashed ship was a selection of heroes claiming to have been abducted, one of which was Mockingbird. Clint believes that she is the real Mockingbird until Mister Fantastic's invention proves that the heroes from the Skrull ship were all imposters. Later, after the war for Earth was won, Clint is reunited with the real Mockingbird, who was revealed to have been held captive by the Skrulls for years.[71]

Dark Reign and Siege

Clint attempts to help Mockingbird as she tries to adapt to life back on Earth. He accompanies her to Zaragoza, Spain, to battle Monica Rappaccini and the hordes of A.I.M. in an effort to deactivate a "dirty bomb" designed by the evil scientific group. Despite their years apart, Clint and Mockingbird battle with comfort and understanding. They manage to defeat A.I.M. and foil their evil plot.[72]

At the conclusion of the Skrull war, S.H.I.E.L.D. is dissolved and Norman Osborn is placed in power of national security.[73] Osborn creates his own team of villainous Avengers by stealing the costumed identities of previous Avengers. The supervillain assassin Bullseye joins the team and takes on the mantle of Hawkeye.[74] Watching the Avengers news coverage on television with the rest of the New Avengers, Clint is stunned to see the events taking place.[75] Clint unmasked himself on network television and publicly denounces Norman Osborn and his regime.[76] He is later elected as the leader of the New Avengers and makes toppling Osborn and the Hood from power his number one priority.[77] Clint argues that the only way to beat Osborn is to kill him, although the rest of the team disagree. Not backing down from his argument, Clint attempts to storm Avengers Tower single handedly to achieve his goal. He defeats the Dark Avengers, but is captured and arrested when, after failing to kill Norman Osborn, he is attacked from behind by Ares.[78] Clint was imprisoned and tortured at the hands of Mentallo. He was later freed by his team mates, and apologized for his actions.[79]

Clint aids Captain AmericaFalcon and Black Widow as they battle the Red Skull and his henchmen to rescue Sharon Carter and the time-displaced Steve Rogers.[80] Captain America later leads the New Avengers (including Clint) against Norman Osborn's forces as they attempted to lay siege to Asgard.[81]

Heroic Age

After the events of Siege, Steve Rogers puts together a new team of Avengers. Clint joins the team and returns to his Hawkeye identity[82] (although he encourages Kate Bishop to keep the Hawkeye identity as well).[83] He and Mockingbird are also members of the New Avengers,[84] although Hawkeye later leaves the New Avengers when he receives an Avengers priority call from the main team, claiming that he was only there to spend time with his wife.[85]

Hawkeye aids Mockingbird and her anti-terrorist organization, the World Counter-terrorism Agency. Together, they thwart Crossfire's illegal arms operation, and encounter Lincoln Slade's descendant, Jaime Slade, who later goes onto become the new Phantom Rider.[86] Crossfire and the new Phantom Rider team-up to battle the heroes. This feud has its casualties with Mockingbird's mother being severely wounded[87] and the death of Hamilton Slade,[88] both at the hands of Crossfire. Hawkeye leaves the W.C.A. after it becomes clear that his relationship with Mockingbird has become too strained. However, he quickly rejoins after being informed by Steve Rogers that a kill list of international spies includes Mockingbird.[89]

Hawkeye and Mockingbird team-up with the Black Widow to take on the mysterious new Ronin and the Dark Ocean Society.[90] The new Ronin is later revealed to be Alexei Shostakov, the former Red Guardian and ex-husband of the Black Widow.[91] During the final battle with the new Ronin, Hawkeye receives a strong blow to the head. When the battle is won, he assures Mockingbird and Black Widow that he suffered no ill effects from the blow.[92] The blow to the head that Hawkeye received proves to be more serious than first thought. While battling the Lethal Legion with the Avengers, Hawkeye's aim is shown to be faltering. After the battle, Tony StarkDonald Blake and Steve Rogers examine Hawkeye to discover what is causing it. Their diagnosis is that Hawkeye is steadily losing his sight and will soon go blind. Iron Man provides Hawkeye with technology that should stall the blindness. Later, Trick Shot arrives at Avengers Tower on the brink of death. Trick Shot tells Hawkeye that he was forced to train another archer, one who was as good as Hawkeye, before dying in his arms.[8] Hawkeye was later ambushed by his brother Barney (who was revealed to have been the one trained by Trick Shot) who now goes by the name Trickshot.[93] Barney manages to subdue Hawkeye and bring him Baron Zemo.[94] Baron Zemo had the brothers duel to the death. Hawkeye (despite going blind from a previous injury with the third Ronin) managed to best Trickshot in battle. Before teleporting away, Baron Zemo transferred Trickshot's criminal funds over to the "victor" Hawkeye, then taunted the hero for turning his brother against him. In custody, Trickshot agreed to a bone marrow transplant to save his brother's sight, but only so he could battle Hawkeye again in the future.[95]

Shattered Heroes

Following the events of Fear Itself, the Avengers Academy is reopened in Palos Verdes at the former West Coast Avengers headquarters, where Barton accepts an offer to become a teacher.[96] The character receives a new costume in Avengers vol. 4, #19 (November 2011).[97] Cullen Bunn, writer of Captain America & Hawkeye, stated the costume was influenced slightly by The Avengers.[98] In 2012, Hawkeye becomes the leader of the Secret Avengers.[99]

Powers and abilities

While Hawkeye has no superhuman powers (with the exception of the period when using Pym particles to become Goliath), he is at the very peak of human conditioning. He is an exceptional fencer, acrobat and marksman, having been trained from childhood in the circus and by the criminals Trick Shot and Swordsman. This includes considerable strength, as a supervillain found out when he tried to use the superhero's 250 pounds-force (1,100 newtons) draw weight bow and found that he could not draw back the string to launch an arrow.[100]

Hawkeye has also been thoroughly trained by Captain America in tactics, martial arts, and hand-to-hand combat. Hawkeye excels in the use of ranged weapons, especially the bow and arrow, and carries a quiver containing a number of customized "trick arrows". In his role as Ronin, Barton shows great proficiency with the katana and other melee weapons. He has gained a reputation for being able to "turn any object into a weapon", and has been seen using items such as tin plates, coins, sticks and other debris to great effect against his enemies.

Hawkeye is also known to use a "Sky-Cycle" as his mode of transportation. The Sky-Cycle is modelled after a commercial snowmobile and is fitted with anti-gravitational technology. It is voice-operated and has an auto-pilot steering system. The original Sky-Cycle was custom made for Hawkeye by Jorge Latham while he was employed by Cross Technological Enterprises.[5] Latham was later employed by the West Coast Avengers and built several more.[101]

Nick Fury

Colonel Nicholas Joseph "Nick" Fury is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer/artist Jack Kirby and writer Stan Lee, Fury first appeared in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 (May 1963), a World War II combat series that portrayed the cigar-chomping Fury as leader of an elite U.S. Army unit. A popular character over a number of decades, in 2011, Fury was ranked 33rd in IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.[1] He has sometimes been considered an antihero.

The modern-day Fury, initially a CIA agent, debuted a few months later in Fantastic Four #21 (Dec. 1963). In Strange Tales #135 (Aug. 1965), the character was transformed into a spy like James Bond and leading agent of the fictional espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. The character makes frequent appearances in Marvel books as the former head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and as an intermediary between the U.S. government or the United Nations and various superheroes. It is eventually revealed that Fury takes a special medication called the Infinity Formula that halted his aging and allows him to be active despite being nearly a century old.

Nick Fury appears in several Marvel series set in alternate universes, as well as multiple animated films, television shows, and video games based on the comics. The character was first portrayed in live action byDavid Hasselhoff in the 1998 television movie Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Samuel L. Jackson later signed a nine-picture deal to portray the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, first appearing in the 2008 film Iron Man.[2][3] Jackson also cameos in multiple episodes of the related Marvel television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A version of the character appearing in Marvel's Ultimate Marvel imprint was based on Jackson's appearance and screen persona, well before he was cast in the role.[4] The recognizability of the character portrayed by Jackson in the films later led Marvel to retire the original character, replacing him with his African American son Nick Fury, Jr., who like the Ultimate Marvel version is patterned on Jackson.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos

Main article: Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos

Fury initially appeared in the World War II combat series Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos,[5] as the cigar-chomping NCO who led a racially and ethnically integrated elite unit. The series ran 167 issues (May 1963 - Dec. 1981), though only in reprints after issue #120 (July 1974). Following several issues by creators Lee and Kirby, penciller Dick Ayers began his long stint on what would be his signature series; John Severin later joined as inker, forming a long-running, critically acclaimed team. Roy Thomas succeeded Lee as writer, followed by Gary Friedrich, for whom this became a signature series as well. Annuals featured the "Howlers" called back to fight in the Korean War and Vietnam War.

The Howling Commandos encountered Office of Strategic Services agent Reed Richards (later Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four) in #3 (Sept. 1963), and fought alongside Captain America and Bucky in #13 (Dec. 1964).

Strange Tales and solo series

In Strange Tales #135 (Aug. 1965), Fury, now a colonel, became a James Bond-esque Cold War spy, with Marvel introducing the covert organization S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division) and its nemesis Hydra .

The 12-page feature was initially by Lee and Kirby, with the latter supplying such inventive and enduring gadgets and hardware as the Helicarrier — an airborne aircraft carrier — as well as human-replicant LMDs (Life Model Decoys), and even automobile airbags.[6] Lee recalled in 2005,

[T]here was a very popular television show called The Man from U.N.C.L.E., sort of a James Bond type of thing. And I thought, just for fun, I'm going to bring Sgt. Fury back again. But it's now years later and I'm going to make him a colonel, and I'm going to make him the head of an outfit like U.N.C.L.E., a secret military outfit. So I had to think of a name, and I love names, so I came up with the name S.H.I.E.L.D. ... [A]nd I think this was Jack's idea, and it was a wonderful idea — they were headquartered in a floating helicarrier, which was like a super-dirigible....[7]

Writer-penciller-colorist Jim Steranko began on the feature in Strange Tales #151 (Dec. 1966), initially over Kirby layouts.[8][9] He quickly became one of comic books' most acclaimed and influential artists. In some of the creative zeniths of the Silver Age, Steranko established the feature as one of comic books' most groundbreaking and innovative.[10][11] He introduced or popularized in comic books such art movements of the day aspsychedelia and op art; built on Kirby's longstanding work in photomontage; and created comic books' first four-page spread. All the while, he spun plots of intense intrigue, barely hidden sensuality, and hi-fi hipness—and supplied his own version of Bond girls, pushing what was allowable under the Comics Code at the time.[12]

The 12-page feature ran through Strange Tales #168 (sharing that "split book" with the occult feature "Doctor Strange" each issue), after which it was spun off into its own series, titled Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. This ran 15 issues (June 1968 - Nov. 1969), followed by three all-reprint issues beginning a year later (Nov. 1970 - March 1971). Steranko wrote and drew issues #1-3 and #5, and drew the covers of #1-7.

Fury continued to make appearances in the other Marvel books, from Fantastic Four to The Avengers. In 1972, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos celebrated its 100th issue with a present-day reunion of the squad, sponsored by Stan Lee and the creative team behind the title. (Lee, like other comic books professionals, has made occasional cameos in his own books, in a tradition going back to the 1940s Golden Age of Comic Books). The matter of Fury apparently not aging significantly since his term of service in World War II was justified in "Assignment: The Infinity Formula" by writer Jim Starlin and artist Howard Chaykin in Marvel Spotlight #31 (Dec. 1976), revealing Fury's age-retarding medication treatment.[13]

A six-issue miniseriesNick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. (June-Nov. 1988) was followed by Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. vol. 2.[14] The latter series lasted 47 issues (Sept. 1989 - May 1993); its pivotal story arc was "the Deltite Affair", in which many S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were replaced with Life Model Decoys in a takeover attempt.

A year after that series ended, the one-shot Fury (May 1994), using retroactive continuity, altered the events of those previous two series, recasting them as a series of staged events designed to distract Fury from the resurrection plans of Hydra head Baron von Strucker. The following year, writer Chaykin and penciller Corky Lehmkuhl produced the four-issue miniseries Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. (April–July 1995). Various publications have additionally focused on Nick Fury's solo adventures, such as the graphic novels and one-shots Wolverine - Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection (1989), Wolverine/Nick Fury: Scorpio Rising (Oct. 1994), Fury/Black Widow: Death Duty and Captain America/Nick Fury: Blood Truce (both Feb. 1995), and Captain America/Nick Fury: The Otherworld War (Oct. 2001). He starred in the 2004–2005 Secret War miniseries.

Early life and wartime

Nicholas Joseph Fury is the eldest of three children born to Jack Fury in New York City. His father is a United States citizen who enlists in the United Kingdom's Royal Flying Corps during World War I. Jack enlists in 1916 and is stationed in France. He shoots downManfred von Richthofen early in his flying career, and is a highly decorated combat aviator by the end of the War in 1918.

Discharged after the War, Jack returns home, marries an unnamed woman, and becomes the father of three children. Nick, probably born in the late 1910s or early 1920s, is followed by Jacob "Jake" Fury (later the supervillain Scorpio who co-founded the Zodiaccartel), and their sister, Dawn.

All three children grow up in the neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, New York. Nick is an amateur boxer through the Police Athletic League where he learns marksmanship. As a teenager in 1937, he went overseas for the first time to fight with theInternational Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. He was on leave in Guernica when the fascists bombed it.[15]

After he returns to America, Fury and his friend Red Hargrove leaves the neighborhood to pursue their dreams of adventure, eventually settling on a daring wing walking and parachuting act. Their death-defying stunts while training British Commandos in 1940 catch the attention of Lieutenant Samuel "Happy Sam" Sawyer, then serving with the British Commandos, who enlists them for a special mission in the Netherlands. Nick and Red later join the U.S. Army, with Fury undergoing Basic Training under a Sergeant Bass. Nick and Red are stationed together at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii when the Imperial Japanese Navy ambushes the base on December 7, 1941. Red is among the many killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, with Fury swearing vengeance against both the Japanese and the Nazis.

Sawyer, now a captain, assigns Fury command of the First Attack Squad, a unit of U.S. Army Rangers, who are awarded the honorary title of Commandos by Winston Churchill after their first missions. They are nicknamed the "Howling Commandos" and stationed at a military base in the United Kingdom to fight specialized missions, primarily but not exclusively in the European Theatre of World War II. During this period, Fury falls in love with a British nurse, Lady Pamela Hawley, who dies in a bombing raid on London before he can propose to her.

C.I.A.

At the end of World War II in Europe, Fury is severely injured by a land mine in France, and is found and healed by a Berthold Sternberg, who uses him as a test subject for his Infinity Formula. After making a full recovery, Fury begins working for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Six months into his service, he learns the extent of Sternberg's life-saving operation: the Infinity Formula has retarded his aging, but if he does not receive annual doses, he will age rapidly and die. The doctor begins a 30-year period of extorting large sums of money from Fury in exchange for the injections. These events, culminating in the end of said extortion, are detailed in Marvel Spotlight #31 (Dec. 1976): "Assignment: The Infinity Formula," by writer Jim Starlin and artist Howard Chaykin.[13]

Fury segues into the CIA as an espionage agent, gathering information in Korea. During this time the Howling Commandos are reformed where Fury receives a battlefield commission to lieutenant. He later reaches the rank ofcolonel. During this time, he recommends the recruitment of married agents Richard and Mary Parker, who will go on to become the parents of Fury's occasional superhero ally Spider-Man. Much later, the CIA uses him as a liaison to various superpowered groups that have begun appearing, including the Fantastic Four, whom CIA agent Fury first encounters in Fantastic Four #21 (Dec. 1963). Despite Marvel's "elastic chronology", which puts the early-1960s stories as roughly only 10 years before modern-day stories, Marvel has never retconned an explanation for that chronological discrepancy, as the company has for many others.

During his time with the CIA, Fury begins wearing his trademark eyepatch (an issue of Sgt. Fury had revealed that he had taken shrapnel to one eye during the war, which caused him to slowly lose sight in it over the course of years).

S.H.I.E.L.D.

Fury becomes the second commander of S.H.I.E.L.D. as its Public Director. The ultimate authority of S.H.I.E.L.D. is revealed to be a cabal of 12 mysterious men and women who give Fury his orders and operational structure, leaving Fury to manage the actual implementation of these orders and strategems.[16] The identities of these people have never been revealed; they appear only as shaded figures on monitors. Initially, his organization's primary nemesis is the international terrorist organization Hydra, created by Fury's worst enemy of World War II, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (after retconning of the original continuity). Under Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D. grows into one of the world's most powerful organizations, reaching covertly into national governments and forming strategic alliances with the Avengers and other superhero groups, while always maintaining independence and deniability. Fury soon becomes the superhero community's main contact when government-related information is required in order to deal with a crisis.

After years at the helm, Fury discovers that S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra have both fallen under the control of a group of sentient Life Model Decoy androids known as Deltites. Betrayed, Fury goes to ground, hunted by his fellow agents, many of whom are later revealed to have been replaced with Deltites. Although Fury ultimately exposes and overcomes the Deltite threat, the conflict is so destructive to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s personnel and infrastructure, and leaves Fury so disillusioned, that he disbands the agency to prevent it from again being subverted from within.[17]

Fury rebuilds S.H.I.E.L.D. from the ground up, initially as a more streamlined agency small enough for him to personally oversee and protect from being corrupted. This new incarnation changed the acronym to stand for "Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage and Logistics Directorate".[18]

Sometime later, Frank Castle, the vigilante known as the Punisher, is captured and sent to a maximum-security facility with a S.H.I.E.L.D. escort. During a hypnosis session with Doc Samson, a character named Spook interrupts and has the Punisher conditioned to believe Fury is responsible for the murder of the Punisher's family. An escaped Punisher eventually kills Fury,[19] who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[20] The Fury that the Punisher has "killed" is later revealed to have been a highly advanced Life Model Decoy android.[21]

Returned to his post as S.H.I.E.L.D. director, Fury independently enlists the superheroes Captain AmericaSpider-ManLuke CageWolverineDaredevil, and the Black Widow to launch a covert assault on the leadership of Latveria, which is plotting a massive attack on the U.S. One year afterward, Latveria launches a counterattack that results in Fury's removal as S.H.I.E.L.D. commander, forcing him again into hiding with numerous international warrants out for his arrest. His successors as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. are first Maria Hill and then Tony Stark.[22] Both Hill and Stark, keeping Fury's disappearance secret from the S.H.I.E.L.D. rank and file, use Life Model Decoys to impersonate Fury on occasion.

Fury is the only "33rd-degree" S.H.I.E.L.D. officer, meaning he is the only member of S.H.I.E.L.D., present or past, to know of the existence of 28 emergency, covert bases scattered across the globe, secretly providing the Anti-Registration faction in the subsequent superhuman civil war with bases where they can rally their forces without worrying about their Pro-Registration enemies finding them.[23]

Secret Invasion

During the time Fury spends in hiding, he learns that Valentina Allegra de Fontaine has been plotting to extract S.H.I.E.L.D. passcodes from him and kill him. Fury kills her first, after which she reverts to the form of an extraterrestrial shape-shifter from the hostileSkrull race, which has mounted an invasion of Earth. He recruits Spider-Woman to be his mole inside both Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D., and to watch for further Skrull impostors. Unbeknownst to him, she's replaced shortly after by Skrull Queen Veranke herself.[24] He later instructs former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Daisy Johnson to recruit superpowered children of various heroes and villains to help combat the Skrull invasion; these include Phobos, the 10-year-old son of Ares and himself the young god of fear; Yo-Yo, a misunderstood mutant speedster; Hellfire, a relative of Phantom Rider with supernatural powers; Druid, a magician and son of Doctor Druid; and Stonewall, a young man who can grow bigger at will and has super strength. Fury dubs them his "Commandos".[25]

Soon after the attack on Earth, Fury and his new team are seen counter-attacking the Skrull attack in Times Square, Manhattan. They manage to repel and kill the invaders in the area significantly, whilst saving the downed Initiative cadets and the Young Avengers.[26] He, along with his team and the rescued heroes, are next seen working and planning their next move in one of the scattered 28 covert S.H.I.E.L.D. bases.[27] He has been seen talking to Deadpool, while Deadpool was on a Skrull ship after pretending to join them. It is revealed that Fury hired Deadpool to infiltrate Skrull ranks by pretending to defect, with the intention of obtaining biological information of the Skrulls that Fury can use to stop them. When Deadpool attempts to transmit the data, it is intercepted byNorman Osborn.[28]

Fury leads the survivors of the Young Avengers and Initiative back to the fight in New York, where they are joined by Thor, the new Captain America, the New Avengers and the Mighty Avengers, the Hood's gang, and the Thunderbolts, to take on Veranke's army of Super Skrulls.[29]

When the battle is over and the real heroes are found, Nick is greeted by the real Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and Dum Dum Dugan. He gives them one look and teleports away with his Secret Warriors, not speaking to his former friends.[30]

Dark Reign and Secret Warriors

During an infiltration and elimination of a covert S.H.I.E.L.D. base in Chicago, Fury discovers that S.H.I.E.L.D. is, and always has been, secretly controlled by Hydra.[31] A distraught Fury now plans to use his Secret Warriors to combat the renewed Hydra threat, spearheaded by his old nemesis, Baron Strucker.[32] He hires the new Howling Commandos, a private military company formed by 1200 former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who refused to join Norman Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R., to employ them in his fight against Hydra and Osborn.[33] He has a number of inside men to assist in his raids,[34] including Natasha Romanova posing as Yelena Belova who is in command of the Thunderbolts.[35][36] Eventually, he and his men commandeer decommissioned Helicarriers, as well as forcing the H.A.M.M.E.R. agents at the dock to follow him.[37] Natasha brings Songbird to Fury, but she is followed and the three are captured by the Thunderbolts. Osborn then shoots Fury in the head.[38] It was not the real Fury who was shot, but a Life Model Decoy in his image,[39] which the Fixer reveals to Songbird and Black Widow later after they escape the Thunderbolts.[40]

On a solo mission soon after, Fury teams with Norman Osborn to interrogate a lower-level H.A.M.M.E.R. agent. The conversation (and materials obtained afterwards) reveal there may be an organization much like Hydra, installed in the upper levels of world governments, called "Leviathan." This organization appears to have been founded by the Soviet government for reasons as yet unclear.[41] Fury later introduces Daisy Johnson to prominent members of the Howling Commandos including Alexander Pierce, leader of the second caterpillar team, and Mikel, Fury's son and leader of the "gray" team.[42]

Siege

Fury and the Secret Warriors are later summoned by Captain America to his hideout along with the New and Young Avengers, when Rogers, seeking to aid his long-time comrade Thor in his plight during the Siege of Asgard launched by Norman Osborn, gathered all his allies to strike back against Osborn and rescue Thor whilst simultaneously ending Osborn's Dark Reign. Fury insists on Phobos remaining behind due to an unwillingness for him to battle his father Ares and his youth, and later opens a wormhole aboard an ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. jet which brings the combined forces of the three teams to Oklahoma.[43][44] They then intercept Norman Osborn's siege and with the help of Iron Man, who receives a variation of his suit from Speed, they shut down Norman's suit. Their victory is cut short when Sentry, now fully possessed by the Void, begins attacking them.[45][46] Loki attempts to help Fury and the other heroes by empowering them with the Norn Stones, but Void kills him before long. Iron Man then uses the ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier as a bullet on the Void. Robert Reynolds regains control of his body and begs the Avengers to kill him. Thor refuses but ends up killing him anyway when Void begins to take over again. The Avengers are reunited and the press declares that a new "Heroic Age" has begun.[47][48]

Heroic Age

While Fury remains underground, allowing Steve Rogers to take official command of the super-spy side of things, he remains in contact with Earth's heroes and monitors their activities.[volume & issue needed] He provides the New Avengers with a special serum, created as a combination of the Super-Soldier serum and the Infinity Formula, to help Mockingbird when she was shot during a raid on a H.A.M.M.E.R. base.[49] Fury later expends the last sample of the Infinity Formula to save Bucky's life. He remains immortal due to trace amounts of the formula in his body.[50]

Battle Scars

In 2012, the six part series Battle Scars introduces Nick Fury's secret son, Sgt. Marcus Johnson who is an African American and ends up losing one eye in the series.[51] The character has been described as looking like Samuel L. Jackson, just as the Nick Fury of the Ultimate Universe does.[52][53] Nick Fury retires at the end of the series, and his son joins S.H.I.E.L.D. Upon joining S.H.I.E.L.D., Johnson changes his name to his original birth name of Nick Fury Jr., as he and Agent Coulson appear on the Helicarrier in the final page.[54]

Original Sin

During the Original Sin storyline, Nick Fury is called upon to help investigate the murder of Uatu the Watcher.[55] Fury is attacked and beheaded by the Winter Soldier.[56] When the investigating teams - including Black PantherEmma FrostDoctor Strange and thePunisher - attempt to pursue Bucky, they find a space station of unknown origin. "Fury" is revealed to be a highly advanced Life Model Decoy, with the space station containing the real, elderly, Nick Fury and several LMDs.[57] Fury relates an account from 1958, when as a member of U.S. Army Intelligence, he encountered an invasion of alien Tribellians in Kansas. He witnessed Woodrow McCord destroying the home planet of the aliens, before himself being fatally injured. When McCord's partner Howard Stark arrived on the scene, he decided to recruit Fury to continue his work as defender of the planet. Nick Fury accepted, and explains that over the decades, outside of spying on hippies and socialists, and "destabilizing"/causing wars across countries on Earth in his regular work with the Army, and later, S.H.I.E.L.D., he defended the Earth against threats through virtually any means whatsoever, including systematic torture against aliens, genocide against planetary civilizations, and warmongering spanning entire galaxies. The corpses discovered recently by the superhero investigators were threats that Fury had neutralized.[58] Fury reveals that he has rapidly grown elderly and is dying because the Infinity Formula in his body has been depleted. He explains that he chose each of the heroes assembled so that one of them can replace him. His refusal to answer the Black Panther's demand for an explanation of what happened to Uatu leads to a battle between the heroes and the LMDs, during which Fury activates Uatu's eyes.[59] Fury fights off most of the attacking heroes - including revealing an undisclosed secret to Thor that causes him to lose the ability to wield his hammer.[60] Fury confesses that he killed Uatu in potential self-defense after Doctor Midas and the Orb had first attacked him. Fury took one of Uatu's eyes, needing to know who mounted the assault and Uatu's oath preventing him from revealing that information directly. After killing Midas, Fury is shown in chains wandering the Moon unable to interfere, as Uatu's replacement, "the Unseen", while the Winter Soldier takes his place as Earth's "Man on the Wall".[61]

Powers, abilities, and equipment

Nick Fury's aging has been slowed greatly by the Infinity Formula, a serum created by Dr. Berthold Sternberg. Fury was first inoculated with the serum in the 1940s. Fury took the serum annually for many years. Originally Fury had to take the formula annually or the effects would be reversed, allowing his body to reach its actual chronological age.[13] Nick Fury is depicted as an active athletic man despite his advanced chronological age, though writers have sometimes portrayed Fury as being past his prime despite the Infinity Formula as in the Fury and Wolverine graphic novel. As of the "Original Sin" story arc, it is revealed that at some point the Infinity Formula stopped working for him and Fury has only pretended to stop aging by using LMDs.[59]

Fury's injured left eye, though initially minimally affected by a grenade blast during World War II,[62] has over the decades resulted in a 95% loss of vision in this eye. Despite some comments to the contrary, Fury has not had the eye removed, nor bionically enhanced, and he merely covers it with a cosmetic eye-patch to prevent depth perception distortion. He has explained that when needing to disguise himself, he only needs to remove the eyepatch, slip in a contact lens and darken his hair, as everyone always looks for a one-eyed man.[63]

Fury is a seasoned unarmed and armed combat expert, was a heavyweight boxer in the army (during World War II), and holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu. He has honed his unarmed combat skills sparring with Captain America.

Fury is a combat veteran of three wars, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam Conflict, as well as numerous "military adviser" missions and clandestine operations ("a dozen conflicts you've never even heard of"). He is trained as a paratrooperRanger, ademolitions expert, vehicle specialist (including aircraft and seagoing vessels), and a Green Beret.

Fury has access to a wide variety of equipment and weaponry designed by S.H.I.E.L.D. technicians. He wears a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform made of 9-ply Kevlar (able to withstand ballistic impact up to .45 caliber bullets) and a Beta cloth (type C), a fire-resistant material, which has a kindling temperature of 1,700 °F (930 °C).

Fury uses various types of handguns, including a .15 caliber needle gun, a government issue .45 caliber automatic, a captured German Luger in 9mm Parabellum, a modified semi-automatic Walther PPK in 9 mm Parabellum, and the Ingram MAC-10 machine pistol in .45 caliber.

As the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fury has access to the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. highly advanced arsenal of weaponry; various air, land, and sea craft provided by S.H.I.E.L.D.; and numerous S.H.I.E.L.D. paraphernalia, including a radio-link tie and a bulletproof suit. Due to his high-ranking status, even when S.H.I.E.L.D. is directed by Tony Stark, and then Norman Osborn, Fury retains access to several S.H.I.E.L.D. warehouses and paraphernalia that are unknown to anyone else but him.

Other versions

1602

In the 1602 miniseries, Nick Fury appears as Sir Nicholas FuryQueen Elizabeth I's chief of intelligence. His character was modeled after Elizabeth's real-life spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham.[64]

Avataars

In the Avataars: Covenant of the Shield miniseries Nick Fury appears as Regent Nicholas, who watches over the throne of Avalon "with his elite guard as its shield."[65]

Back in the USSA

In the alternate history novel Back in the USSA by Eugene Byrne and Kim Newman, Fury is mentioned as being among a group of military officers hoping to take power from President J. R. Ewing after the collapse of the United Socialist States of America.

Deadpool" Merc with a Mouth[edit]

Deadpool visits a universe where the Wild West still exists and Nick Fury is the sheriff of a town there.[66]

Earth X

In the Earth X universe Nick Fury is dead. Several LMDs still exist and fight against Cold War-era communists such as the current leader of Russia, Piotr Rasputin. One attacks Piotr when he is meeting with Captain America's party.[67]

Fury

In the Marvel MAX-imprint miniseries Fury vol. 2, by writer Garth Ennis and penciller Darick Robertson, Fury is a burned-out Cold War veteran unable to cope with the modern world. He is swiftly drawn into a conflict with an old Hydra enemy and the new bureaucratic version of S.H.I.E.L.D. This version continues to appear in Ennis' Punisher series. Writer-editor Stan Lee, a co-creator of Nick Fury, was critical of the extreme violence and gore of this new series: "I don't know why they're doing that. I don't think that I would do those kinds of stories."[68] A 2012 sequel series followed Fury's involvement in 1960's anti-Communist military action, including Vietnam and Cuba.[69]

Fury: Peacemaker

A six-part miniseries, written by Ennis, was published in 2006 under the Marvel Knights imprint. It portrays a young Sergeant Fury during World War II, who learns the art of war in the deserts of North Africa with the newly formed British SAS and ultimately joins them on a mission to assassinate an important German general.[70]

"House of M"

In the alternate reality of the crossover story arc "House of M", Nick Fury has vanished some time ago. During the mutant purges of the armed forces (which involved outright executions of most of the human field-officers) Nick Fury is kept on as a subservient Drill Instructor, because his talents are too valuable. He makes an enemy of one of his soldiers, Earshot, who has the power to throw his voice with precision over long distances. Earshot uses this power to trick Nick Fury into a trap, seemingly killing him. It is hinted that the trap was actually planned by Wolverine, another of Fury's soldiers.[71]

Marvel Mangaverse

In the Marvel Mangaverse imprint, Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., disappears for a time to mastermind the death of 99% of the superhuman population. He is assisted by that universe's Black Cat. It is said, by his mind-controlled victim, Sharon Carter, that the motivation for the superhero deaths is jealousy.

Marvel Zombies

Nick Fury organizes a resistance against the zombies but is eventually devoured by the zombified Fantastic Four on the Helicarrier. Shortly before he dies, Fury orders Thor to destroy the teleporter built by Tony Stark to prevent the Fantastic Four from escaping to other dimensions, effectively saving the multiverse.[72]

MC2[edit]

In the alternate reality known as the MC2 Universe, Nick Fury is alive and well and is still running S.H.I.E.L.D.[73]

Mutant X

In the alternate reality of the X-Men-related miniseries Mutant X, Fury leads S.H.I.E.L.D., an anti-mutant policing organization. It is corrupt, and brainwashes its personnel to violently hate all mutants.[74] Fury himself is an extrememegalomaniac, and kills his own men at the slightest questioning of his orders.[75][76]

The Transformers

Fury and Dum Dum Dugan appear in the alternate universe toy-license series The Transformers #3 (Jan. 1985).

Ultimate Nick Fury

Main article: Ultimate Nick Fury

In the Ultimate Marvel UniverseGeneral Nick Fury is African American, with his look and personality tailored after actor Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson went on to play the live-action adaptation of Nick Fury within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.