The Avengers, a group of comic book heroes created by Marvel Comics, should not be confused with the British TV series The Avengers airing from 1961-1969, which focused on spies, or the spy-fi format. Writer and artist Stan Lee created many of the characters that are part of the Avengers group. Comic books concerning these collections of superheroes first appeared in the 1960s, and resulted in several permutations of the original theme with “young avengers” changes in the rosters of superheroes involved. This superhero team is evoking growing popular interest due to a 2011 film featuring the characters and the release of films with two main characters in 2008, Iron Man and The Hulk.
The group of superheroes in the first comic book, released in 1963, was Thor, Ant-Man, Captain America, the Wasp, Iron Man and the Hulk. In fact the first adventure of the group was to help Thor defeat his brother Loki. The first comic book also describes the purpose of the Avengers, “to fight the foes no single superhero could withstand.” These group hero efforts were becoming very popular with DC Comics’ introduction of the Justice League, three years earlier in 1960.
As the comic series continued, other superheroes joined the Avengers from time to time, or at least stopped by for guest appearances. These include Captain Marvel, Captain Britain, Wolverine, Giant Man and Spider Man. Rumors fly regarding the group roster for the 2011 film, but it is very likely that the Hulk and Iron Man will make up part of the team, and Captain America clearly will. Other potential superheroes include several X-men members, and Spider Man. Most conclude that virtually any Marvel Comics hero, including the Fantastic Four, is fair game for inclusion.
The main goal of the Avengers has normally been to fight against various villains with extreme super powers, and who are often either of alien or supernatural extraction. Some would-be villains have joined the group for short periods of time, including Black Widow and the Scarlet Witch. A number of different writers have been responsible for recreating the group over time periods. These include Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Jim Shooter, Roger Stern, John Byrne, and the team of Bob Harras and Steve Epting.
There have additionally been several animated productions featuring the group. These include a thirteen episode TV series which ran from 1999-2000, called the The Avengers: United We Stand, and two direct to DVD released films in 2006. The 2011 feature film is being written by Zach Penn, and is likely to evolve into two films, one involving Captain America, and the other concerning the entire superhero group. The cast includes Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.