Earth's Mopiest Heroes1 of 12
The Avengers. Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The Marvel Universe's first line of defense against the biggest, toughest threats out there.
It's no surprise a team with that reputation has lived through its share of tragedies as a result of their adventures, but the Avengers have suffered defeats as mighty as their own vaunted victories.
So what does it take to keep a good team down? Read on to find out as we count down the ten worst things that have ever happened to the Avengers.
Kang Dynasty2 of 12
The Avengers' time-traveling nemesis Kang may seem like he's got a leg up on Earth's Mightiest Heroes - he could just defeat them before they're even the Avengers. But his warrior's code prevents him from taking the easy route - and in the story "Kang Dynasty," he proves that code isn't even a hindrance to his ability to follow his namesake and conquer the Earth.
In "Kang Dynasty," Kang's armies arrive abruptly, spreading out over the Earth as Kang uses his Damocles ship (that huge sword looking thing he's holding on in the image above) to wreak havoc.
Overwhelmed by his power, the Avengers are quickly splintered, with many of their numbers (along with other superheroes) being interned in camps around the nation while Kang ran wild.
Of course, the Avengers rallied to defeat Kang against all odds - even culminating in 1000-foot-tall projections of Kang and Captain America throwing down in space - and the Conqueror was locked away (before managing to escape with the power of time travel, natch).
Time Runs Out3 of 12
The Avengers have watched Earth die before (they've brought it back, too) - but what happens when they have to watch it perish over, and over, and over again?
That's exactly the premise of "Time Runs Out," a multi-title, years-long story in which alternate reality Earths are appearing colliding and destroying each other - leading to the collapse of the entire multiverse.
But through the process, a team of elite Avengers did put forth every possible effort to stop these "incursions," traveling to these alternate Earths as they are destroyed in the hopes of saving them. But in the end, time actually did run out - the entire multiverse was destroyed as a result of the incursions, cause by enigmatic all-powerful beings known as the Beyonders.
And in that moment, the Avengers died as well - only to be reborn on "Battleworld," a place created from the wreckage of the multiverse and ruled by Doctor Doom - but that's another story.
Ultron Unlimited4 of 12
The evil A.I. Ultron has long been regarded as one of the Avengers' greatest foes - he even lent his name to the title of their second film, Age of Ultron.
But in comic books, Ultron's deadliest attack was also one of the worst tragedies that ever happened around the Avengers - and even inspired portions of Age of Ultron.
In writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Perez's "Ultron Unleashed," the Avengers take on Ultron to stop him from conquering the world with an army of Ultron bodies - but not before Ultron manages to decimate the entire country of Slorenia, killing nearly all its citizens in the process (sound familiar?).
In the end, Hank Pym, Ultron's creator, managed to almost single-handedly defeat Ultron, beating the android's core body to a ragged hunk of junk - but not before his greatest mistake led to the blood of millions on his hands.
The Korvac Saga5 of 12
The Avengers have fought universal threats with seemingly insurmountable cosmic strength many times throughout the years - and sometimes they've even lost - but the "Korvac Saga" was the first time the team faced real cosmic tragedy.
Korvac was a computer programmer from the 31st century who gained powers after being experimented on by the alien Badoon empire who became an enemy of the Guardians of the Galaxy (the original future team) before traveling back in time to escape defeat.
Once in the present day, Korvac discovered Galactus' spaceship, using his future knowledge to access the controls, imbuing himself with the Power Cosmic. Taking the name "Michael," Korvac engaged in a series of fights with the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy before using his incredible power to make himself essentially invisible to the members of both teams, and escaped to live a human life in suburbia.
In the end, the Avengers managed to discover Korvac's hiding place and defeat him - but not before numerous cosmic entities joined the fray, and Korvac killed a number of Avengers and Guardians, including Captain America, Wonder Man, and more (they eventually got better, as superheroes do).
Inner Visions6 of 12
For many years, the synthezoid Vision was seen as the heart and soul of the team - the bastion of off-kilter humanity in the team's emotional core. Though he was created to fight the Avengers by Ultron, his heroic nature won him a spot on the team and a place among the annals of the greatest heroes ever.
But that reputation almost went up in smoke when, as a result of injuries stemming from an encounter with Annihilus, Vision went totally bazonkers and tried to conquer the world by infecting every computer on the planet.
He was subsequently dismantled by the government, who were being manipulated by Immortus, resulting in a re-assembly as a colorless, emotionless shell.
Dark Reign7 of 12
What does the Marvel Universe look like after the good guys lose?
That's the question at hand in "Dark Reign," a year-long saga that grew out of Secret Invasion and which put Norman Osborn in charge of the world's top law enforcement agency.
In taking control of H.A.M.M.E.R. (Osborn's rebranding of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Osborn founded his own Dark Avengers team consisting of morally reprehensible reflections of classic Avengers, such as Bullseye masquerading as Darkhawk, Moonstone pretending to be Ms. Marvel (she wasn't Captain Marvel yet), and so on - and pitted them against the actual Avengers, themselves still reeling from the double whammy of Civil War and Secret Invasion.
In the end, Osborn's facade of heroism cracked when he and his Dark Avengers destroyed Asgard, seemingly killing Bucky and Loki in the process. Osborn was finally defeated - and in his defeat, reunited the long-splintered Avengers, who rallied around the resurrected Steve Rogers after he returned during Siege (the story of Osborn's attack on Asgard).
Onslaught8 of 12
The menace of Onslaught - a psychic villain created as a biproduct of the intertwined psyches of Professor X and Magneto - might seem like an X-Men problem, but it's actually the Avengers who suffered from the Onslaught saga worst of all.
See, while the X-Men did take the lead in fighting Onslaught, who had conquered the island of Manhattan when their final confrontation took place - it's the Avengers (and Fantastic Four but this isn't about them) who sacrificed themselves en masse to destroy the psychic energy being.
What resulted was the Avengers being shunted to another reality, where their lives and histories were totally different. But to the rest of the world, they were dead - literally the entire Avengers team publicly sacrificed themselves.
Sure, they did come back from the "Heroes Reborn" pocket dimension, but it's not every day a villain manages to kill the entire roster of the world's greatest super-team.
Infinity Gauntlet9 of 12
It's hard to argue that Thanos' use of the Infinity Gauntlet to snuff out half the life in the Universe wasn't one of, if not the worst tragedy to ever befall the Marvel Universe.
That said, it would be higher on this list if it was more of a, shall we say, "personal problem" for the Avengers. Because while Earth's Mightiest were front-and-center in the story, in which Thanos killed numerous Avengers, they weren't the only ones fighting the good fight against the Mad Titan, and they weren't the ones who finally fully saved the day.
That said, if we were to count the MCU Avengers, "the snap" likely takes the very top of the list - even if, as in comic books, it will probably be reversed eventually.
Civil War10 of 12
Like Infinity Gauntlet, Marvel's Civil War was hardly confined to the Avengers - but it did have the most direct, lasting impact on Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
The crux of Marvel's Civil War was a disagreement between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers over whether superheroes should ascent to government regulation and supervision, in the wake of a potentially avoidable superhero cataclysm (the same basic idea formed the basis of the movie version). But the conflict between Tony and Steve escalated seemingly beyond repair when Steve refused to obey a law which Stark championed which required all super-powered beings to register with the government.
Their ideological differences over how to save the world growing, the Avengers split in two with squads forming up around Captain America and Iron Man, with the two sides, which quickly expanded beyond the Avengers, even coming to blows time and time again.
And it's these clashes that led to the worst tragedies for the Avengers. Not only did the team dissolve for the second time in under ten years (following "Avengers Disassembled"), but Goliath was killed by one of Tony Stark and Reed Richards' weapons - a clone of the then-deceased Thor. The conflict also led directly to the death of Captain America when he was assassinated after being taken into custody for violating the Super Human Registration Act. (Yeah, we know he wasn't technically dead but the Avengers didn't know that!)
A sequel, Civil War II, also devastated the team, resulting in the deaths of James Rhodes and Bruce Banner (at the hands of Hawkeye no less) and She-Hulk being gravely injured. However, that sequel failed to muster the same long-term impact and emotional resonance of the original.
Avengers: Disassembled11 of 12
Here it is - the worst thing that's ever happened to the Avengers, and it's a doozie.
As we've shown, the Avengers have suffered immensely over the years, both individually and as a team (that's often how it goes for superheroes). But few Avengers have been through as much as Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch.
See, Wanda had a weird life - she was abandoned by her parents, raised by migrant Romani people, and turned into a supervillain by her (then believed father) Magneto. She fell in love with the Vision, lived through his dismantling and the loss of his personality, and even the revelation that the children she believed were her and Vizh's kids may have actually been the illusory machinations of a demonic villain.
So trust us when we say when Wanda loses it, she goes nuclear. In this story, the start of another tragic personal saga for Wanda, she unleashes the full power of her probability altering powers and chaos magic to decimate the Avengers - the team she blamed for all her personal hardship.
In one day, Wanda used her magic to disgrace then Secretary of State Tony Stark by intoxicating him on live TV, stage an alien invasion that killed Hawkeye, bring the irradiated corpse of Jack of Hearts back from space to fight the Avengers, turned Vision into an Ultron factory (killing Scott Lang in the process), destroyed Avengers Mansion, and enraged She-Hulk into tearing Vision in half.
In the end, the cycle of tragedy didn't stop there - the team fractured as a result of Wanda's actions, and her subsequent mental state led to "M-Day," in which she used her powers to rid the world of all but 198 mutants.
The effects of all this are still resonating through the Marvel Universe to this day.
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