The 9 All-Time Greatest Leaders of the Avengers, Ranked


There may be no more honored title in all of comic books than the official leader of the Avengers, and it’s a job that’s been held by a surprising number of characters over the years. Those more casually associated with the franchise might assume Captain America is just always in charge by default, but that’s not quite true. By their own charter, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes must always have an elected chairperson in command, and it’s not always Steve Rogers.

In fact, all of the founding Avengers, with the notable exception of the Hulk, have served in the role of chairperson over the years. Some – like Cap, the Wasp, and Black Widow – have spent longer than others in the chair, but each leader has made at least a few notable contributions to the organization’s history, both for better and for worse.

9. Monica Rambeau

Monica Rambeau

Permanent Chairperson: Avengers #279-294

Highlights: As Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau led the Avengers through the repercussions of the Under Siege disaster, helping the team regain its footing. Her greatest moment of glory was undoubtedly leading the squad against Zeus and the Gods of Olympus, which the Avengers improbably won.

Lowlights: Rambeau’s time as Captain Marvel – and as chairperson of the Avengers – ended in disappointment. After a fight with Namor’s monstrous ex, Marrina, Rambeau was left depowered and near death, resulting in her leaving the team. She would not return until she had regained her powers and picked up a new codename, Photon (soon to be Spectrum).

Best Leadership Quality: The sort of self-control that anyone could look up to. One of the most powerful Avengers in team history – but rarely overwhelmed by her own abilities.

8. Sam Wilson

Sam Wilson

Permanent Chairperson: All-New, All-Different Avengers #1-Avengers #690

Highlights: Sam Wilson took serious efforts to integrate a new generation of heroes, including Miles Morales and Kamala Khan, onto the Avengers roster – and they would prove vital in stopping the Marvel Universe’s second “Civil War.” He and the squad later went on to thwart a scheme by Kang the Conqueror to literally erase the Avengers from history, which is a pretty important accomplishment.

Lowlights: Early in Sam’s tenure, every Avenger perished as an infant in the past thanks to Kang, but that was quickly rectified. The new Captain America’s greatest failure as team leader actually came when he failed to notice that the old Cap, Steve Rogers, had been replaced by a HYDRA-fied version of himself – which led to the fascist takeover of the United States in Secret Empire.

Best Leadership Quality: An unquenched thirst for social justice. Wilson didn’t just set out to make the world a better place – he also made the Avengers a more inclusive team.

7. The Wasp

The Wasp

Part Of Rotating Chairpersonship: Avengers #1-16, Avengers #32-127

Permanent Chairperson: Avengers #217-243, Avengers #256-278

Highlights: Aside from Captain America, Janet van Dyne is the longest-serving Avengers chairperson, having taken permanent hold of the position in the wake of her nasty split from Hank Pym. In addition to naming the team itself, she saw the squad through the arrival of Thanos, the coming of Annihilus, and several roster revamps. She was also the team leader during the original Secret Wars, the first major comic book crossover, and made efforts to include more women, like She-Hulk and Captain Marvel, on the roster. 

Lowlights: By far the Wasp’s greatest failing as Avengers leader – at least in her own eyes – came during the Under Siege arc, in which the Masters of Evil invaded Avengers Mansion and injured several of their members. This incident led to van Dyne giving up her chairpersonship. 

Best Leadership Quality: People skills. Janet van Dyne has always had a knack for managing the multitude of strong personalities that make up the Avengers.

6. Hawkeye


Part Of Rotating Chairpersonship: Avengers #32-127

Permanent Chairperson: Never

Highlights: Clint Barton‘s most prominent experience with leading Earth’s Mightiest Heroes came when he was in charge of the West Coast Avengers, the organization’s most prominent split-squad. He was only the chairperson of the OG Avengers on one on-page occasion, but it was a big-time adventure that saw the team take on both Namor the Submariner and Mole Man.

Lowlights: Hawkeye’s only real lowlight is not getting a chance to sit in the chair more often.

Best Leadership Quality: An irreverent sense of humor that kept pressure low and masked his burning desire to belong.

5. Thor


Part Of Rotating Chairpersonship: Avengers #1-16, Avengers #32-127

Permanent Chairperson: Avengers #128-150

Highlights: As rotating chairperson, Thor led the Avengers to their first victory against Kang the Conqueror. His official time in the chair featured several more entanglements with Kang/Immortus, along with big wins against the Legion of the Unliving, Ultron, and the Squadron Sinister – a Marvel-ized pastiche of the Justice League. He also saw to the admittance of several new Avengers.

Lowlights: Thor’s time as chairperson is notable for its lack of drama. Sure, the Avengers ended up sucked into the past and into an alternate reality under his watch, but they escaped each time. And when Thor finally decided to leave the team, it wasn’t because of failure, but because he wanted to spend more time on his godly affairs. 

Best Leadership Quality: Ceaseless bravery and courage in battle. Always willing to lead the charge.

4. Iron Man

Iron Man

Part Of Rotating Chairpersonship: Avengers #1-16, Avengers #32-127

Permanent Chairperson: Avengers #151-185

Highlights: As rotating chairperson, Iron Man wasn’t given much opportunity – mostly because nobody knew he was secretly super-genius Tony Stark at the time. As permanent chairperson, he held back an invasion from Atlantis, took on the Lethal Legion, and led the Avengers through the legendary “Korvac Saga” – which saw Earth’s Mightiest Heroes team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy from the Year 3000!

Lowlights: Tony Stark’s time in the chair culminated with the National Security Council taking hold of the Avengers – and immediately booting half the roster. It didn’t take long before Iron Man was forced to leave after being falsely accused of homicide, prompting him to hand the reins back to Captain America. 

Best Leadership Quality: Unparalleled intelligence, though he had to keep it on the down-low when he was still pretending to not be Tony Stark.

3. Black Widow

Black Widow

Permanent Chairperson: Avengers #348-402

Highlights: When Captain America left the Avengers in protest of their decision to slay the Kree Supreme Intelligence, it was left to Natasha Romanoff to pick up the pieces – and indeed she did, holding the team together for more than 50 issues, a stint in the chair that trails just Cap and the Wasp. Highlights include the epic conflict against the Gatherers, the “Bloodties” crossover, and taking down MODOK and the Red Skull at the same time.

Lowlights: Romanoff oversaw a tumultuous period in the Avengers’ history, including Steve Rogers becoming a werewolf, the breaking bad of Tony Stark – necessitating his replacement by a time-traveling teenage version of himself – and the sacrifice of most members of the team, but not the Widow herself, to stop Onslaught. 

Best Leadership Quality: Her cold, hard, calculating nature. If you wanted an Avenger to make a difficult moral decision, Black Widow was the one to do it.

2. Black Panther

Black Panther

Part Of Rotating Chairpersonship: Avengers #52-127

Permanent Chairperson: Avengers Vol 8 #8-present

Highlights: Early in his career, T’Challa led the Avengers in a multipart adventure against the nefarious Egghead. Later, when given the official role of chairperson, he moved the team’s HQ to the frozen body of a Celestial at the North Pole and revamped the entire organization – even going as far as to create a new official support squad, the Agents of Wakanda.

Lowlights: Black Panther’s time as leader has attracted several onslaughts from his most prominent rival, Namor the Submariner. It has also caused friction with the US Government, which opposes the idea of a non-American leading the Avengers, despite their headquarters no longer existing within the United States. 

Best Leadership Quality: Regality. Some leaders are chosen, but King T’Challa was quite literally born to be in charge.

1. Captain America

Captain America

Part Of Rotating Chairpersonship: Avengers #1-16, Avengers #32-127

Permanent Chairperson: Avengers #17-31, Avengers #186-217, Avengers #255-256, Avengers #278-279, Avengers #300-347, Avengers Vol 3 #1-85, Avengers Vol 5 #1-44

Highlights: Given that Steve Rogers’s leadership covers the vast majority of team history, it’s difficult to narrow down the best moments – but the “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” era, in which he led a squad consisting of just him and three reformed crooks, deserves special credit. So too does his steady commanding during the Avengers World era, in which the organization grew to its greatest size yet. 

Lowlights: Cap has quit the Avengers on several occasions, including when he became “The Captain” and when he proved unable to stop his teammates from enacting lethal justice in “Operation: Galactic Storm.” His Avengers Vol 5 stint also ended with the destruction of the Marvel Universe, so there’s that. 

Best Leadership Quality: Captain America is inspiration personified. There may be no better leader in the annals of fictional history.