Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in Avengers Assemble 2012

Please, Marvel, Don’t Bring Back the Original Avengers Line-Up

There’s trouble brewing at Marvel Studios. Actually, that trouble has been brewing for quite some time, but new information has been uncovered that really puts those issues in the spotlight—and it’s not pretty.

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A new exposé by Variety dives deep into the problems that have plagued the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shifting release schedules, scripts being constantly redrafted, the legal troubles surrounding Kang actor Jonathan Majors, VFX workers being horribly overworked, and the pressure of creating a slate of streaming shows have led the once leading superhero franchise to feel fractured—its recent output has sadly, for the most part, been underwhelming.

So, what can the MCU do to dig itself out of this hole? Variety‘s article provides a few of the vague solutions that have been floated around at the studio. Recasting Majors would seem to be a logical next step, even if Loki‘s final two episodes depend heavily on his performance. Slowing down the franchise’s rate of output is another. One idea mentioned in the article, however, made a chill run down my spine.

Please, Kevin Feige, I’m begging you—don’t bring back the original Avengers line-up.

According to Variety, Marvel Studios is considering some “drastic moves.” One of those moves is resurrecting some of the franchise’s flagship characters:

“Sources say there have been talks to bring back the original gang for an Avengers movie. This would include reviving Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, both of whom were killed off in Endgame. (That shouldn’t be a stumbling block—in comic books, beloved characters are often killed off, only to be resurrected thanks to the power of things like the multiverse.) But the studio hasn’t yet committed to the idea—if it were able to bring those actors back, it wouldn’t come cheap.”

The MCU has brought me so much joy over the years, and the original Avengers roster was a big part of that joy. Chris Evans’ Captain America was, and still is, my favorite—but there is no MCU without Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, and Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff (slowly) paved the way for more female superheroes to make their mark on the franchise. They have all had vital roles to play—I, and I suspect many other superhero fans, are eternally grateful to them. But to quote Star Wars’ Kylo Ren, “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.”

Luckily, the MCU doesn’t have to kill these characters again. It can just let them stay dead. Their stories are over. They’ve been given genuine endings. While you may have disagreed with Black Widow’s or Iron Man’s sacrificial deaths, and you might have lamented Steve’s reunion with Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter, there is no denying that their stories are finished. For an empire that has built its power on multiple sequels, overarching narrative arcs, and returning characters, giving those characters an actual lasting send-off is undeniably meaningful.

Remember how it felt to watch the credits for Avengers: Endgame? The way it paid tribute to the original six Avengers that made the entirety of the Infinity Saga possible? Bringing three of them back now would only cheapen that moment.

Look at what’s happened to Chris Hemsworth’s Thor—his fourth solo outing in Thor: Love and Thunder has been widely derided. The Hawkeye Disney+ show, while a genuinely fun project, flew under the radar, as most MCU Disney+ shows have. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner has only briefly been seen in She-Hulk. While these characters’ stories do live on, it’s clear that the franchise and its audience are ready for something new, someone new—and against all odds, the MCU has been giving us exactly that. Recent characters like Shang-Chi, Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, the Eternals, and more just haven’t been given the chance to make their mark on popular culture the same way the original six Avengers did. So many new projects and characters have been introduced in such a short amount of time that they’re all forced to compete with one another for the audience’s drifting attention.

Bringing back Steve’s Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow would be the easy, and frankly lazy, way out, and I doubt audiences will see it as anything other than a cash grab, either. The MCU may be leaning more into the classic (and somewhat convoluted) comic book structure, and yes, leading characters in comics are resurrected time and time again. But despite these being Marvel stories, the MCU is not, in fact, the same as the comic books, and resurrection would feel cheap and meaningless, even when the concept of the Multiverse is involved.

These heroes’ legacies live on in other characters that are now deserving of the spotlight. Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson carries Captain America’s shield, Black Widow’s determination lives on in her sister, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), and Iron Man’s impact can be felt everywhere, from Spider-Man’s post-Endgame movies to the upcoming Iron Heart show. The original heroes did their job. Now it’s everyone else’s turn.

(via Variety, featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.