"There was an idea to bring together a remarkable group of people to fight the battles we never could."
Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Earth is under attack. The planet's only chance of survival lies in a collection of uniquely gifted individuals, gathered together by Nick Fury, director of the international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division), as a part of his "Avengers Initiative." Will they be enough to thwart the forces threatening global destruction?
To prepare you for the first of this year's summer blockbusters, we offer this dossier to acquaint you with members of the Avengers team.
As the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., global security is Fury's (Samuel L. Jackson) primary concern. It's a responsibility someone in his position can't afford to take lightly. Preparation is paramount. So when S.H.I.E.L.D. intelligence becomes aware of an evil force threatening life on Earth, Fury assembles some of the most powerful beings on the planet to defend it.
Superhuman abilities: None.
When we last saw him: In "Thor," Fury sought the aid of Dr. Erik Selvig in harnessing the Tesseract, an ancient cube-shaped artifact once owned by the Norse god, Odin that holds the potential for unlimited power. Unknown to Fury, Selvig is under the mental influence of Loki, the Norse god of mischief.
He was once a stereotypical 98-pound weakling, but a combination of a secret serum and Vita Ray exposure transformed Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) into Captain America, the country's one and only Super Soldier. Rogers used his newfound powers to battle Nazis during World War II. He crashed while on a mission over the Arctic, sacrificing himself to save the United States from a Nazi bombing raid, and was presumed dead. S.H.I.E.L.D agents revived him after a 70-year hibernation.
Superhuman abilities: The Super Soldier serum gave Rogers peak human strength, agility and endurance.
When we last saw him: In "Captain America: The First Avenger," Nick Fury asks Rogers for his help in saving the world.
Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has it all. Wealth. Devilish charm. Genius-level intellect. And a high-tech suit of armor that flies and shoots particle beams. As Iron Man, Stark has embraced the role of superhero. But for all his tremendous gifts, he's got some significant flaws. He's narcissistic, at times self-destructive and not much of a team player.
Superhuman abilities: None. The Iron Man armor, powered by Stark's repulsor technology, provides its wearer superhuman strength, flight and protection. It features a bevy of offensive weapons including mini-missiles and plasma bolts. An advanced artificial intelligence program, JARVIS, assists Stark in piloting the suit.
When we last saw him: In "Iron Man 2," Stark was told he was too unstable to be a part of Nick Fury's Avengers Initiative and would instead serve as a consultant.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Norse god of thunder, was banished from the mystical realm of Asgard because of his excessive pride. He is stripped of his powers and sent to Earth. While in exile, Thor learns compassion, defending the people that befriended him on Earth from a threat sent from Asgard by his evil brother Loki. His powers restored, Thor is humbled by his experience and is changed for the better.
Superhuman abilities: His Asgardian physiology gives Thor superhuman strength, speed, stamina and reflexes. Wielding Mjolnir, an enchanted hammer given to him by Odin, allows him to generate lightning, tornado-class winds and small-scale earthquakes.
When we last saw him: Thor's final battle with Loki destroyed the Bifrost Bridge, the transdimensional portal that connected Asgard to Earth.
In a freak accident, scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) gets irradiated with gamma rays and transforms into an enormous, green-skinned, unstoppable beast nicknamed the Hulk. As he struggles to control his typically anger- triggered Hulk transformations, Banner finds himself on the run from U.S. military officials who want to use his blood to create an army of super soldiers. If the Hulk could be controlled, it could be a valuable asset in Earth's defense.
Superhuman abilities: As the Hulk, Banner possesses superhuman strength that increases as his adrenaline level rises. The Hulk's skin is remarkably tough and able to withstand bullets. The Hulk's endurance, speed and healing abilities also are at superhuman levels.
When we last saw him: At the conclusion of "The Incredible Hulk," Banner is living in seclusion, working on ways to control his transformation into the Hulk.
Beautiful and deadly Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is a master spy working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Also a skilled assassin, marksman and hand-to-hand combatant, Black Widow is armed with several specialized weapons, including wrist-mounted blasters that emit electrostatic bolts, nicknamed "widow stings," to incapacitate opponents.
Superhuman abilities: None.
When we last saw her: In "Iron Man 2," Romanoff posed as Tony Stark's personal assistant to assess his worthiness to become a part of the Avengers Initiative and helped Stark take down the villainous Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash.
Top S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), code-name Hawkeye, is an expert archer with a quiver stocked with speciality arrows to fit any situation.
Superhuman abilities: None.
When we last saw him: In a sniper turret at a temporary research facility S.H.I.E.L.D. erected around the crash site of the enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, in "Thor." Barton had the exiled Thor in his sights as the banished god attempted to reclaim his weapon.