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For the main universe Avengers, see Avengers
For Zombie Outbreak Variant, see Avengers
For Age of Ultron Variant, see Avengers

"The Avengers fell before they had a chance to rise. May they rest in peace."
"They can, but we won't. The Avengers were always meant to be more than a team."
Phil Coulson and Nick Fury[src]

The Avengers were the planned end result of the Avengers Initiative, a project conceptualized by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury with the intent of assembling a team of people with enhanced or otherwise special abilities, so that they could defend Earth from threats. However, the Avengers Initiative never came to fruition due to Hank Pym, seeing revenge for the death of his daughter, systematically assassinating each of the Avengers candidates. Though the original Avengers Initiative candidates were killed, Director Fury soon assembled a new team to combat Loki's invasion of Earth.

History

Creation

"There was an idea, to bring together a group of–"
"Remarkable people? To see if they could become something more? I know, I've heard the speech."
Nick Fury and Natasha Romanoff[src]

The Avengers Initiative was conceptualized by Nick Fury, the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., after his encounter with Captain Marvel in the 1990s. Though the project remained mostly dormant for many years, by 2010 there were several candidates for the Initiative: Tony Stark, a billionaire with a weaponized metal suit; Bruce Banner, who could transform into a giant green monster; and Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton, two highly-skilled S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.[1]

Hank Pym's Vendetta

Death of Hope van Dyne

"You filled her head with nonsense about protecting humanity and saving the world. You just left out how she died the same way her mother did, doing S.H.I.E.L.D.'s dirty work!"
Hank Pym to "Nick Fury"[src]

Genius scientist Hank Pym lost his wife, Janet van Dyne, when she was seemingly killed on a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission. Years later, Pym and Janet's daughter, Hope van Dyne, joined S.H.I.E.L.D. herself after being convinced by Nick Fury, which ultimately resulted in her death on a mission in Odessa. Pym, filled with rage at S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fury, orchestrated a plan to get revenge by destroying the Avengers Initiative.[1]

Assassination of Tony Stark

Tony Stark is murdered by Hank Pym

"I'm surprised you'd wanna bet the future of the Avengers Initiative on... that."
"Stark may be eccentric, but he's got potential."
Natasha Romanoff and Nick Fury[src]

In 2010, Director Nick Fury and Natasha Romanoff met with Tony Stark to discuss recent events that had transpired involving him, including his palladium poisoning. Romanoff questioned if Stark was worthy of being considered for the Initiative, but Fury reminded her that while Stark was a risk, he took a similar risk with Romanoff herself, and it paid off.

At Randy's Donuts, Fury sat down with Stark, who repeated that he had no interest in joining the Initiative, and Fury recalled that Stark had said he preferred to do everything himself. Romanoff arrived shortly after, injecting Stark with lithium dioxide to subdue his poisoning. Unbeknownst to Romanoff, however, Hank Pym had used the Yellowjacket suit to shrink to a microscopic size and enter the antidote, killing Stark from within as he was injected. Following the injection, Stark began to cough, and shortly after suddenly collapsed to the floor. Romanoff checked on him, only to find that he was dead.[1]

Natasha Romanoff's Escape

Natasha Romanoff ready to escape STRIKE

"Someone inside S.H.I.E.L.D. compromised Stark's antidote. I need someone on the outside to find out who."
Nick Fury to Black Widow[src]

By the following day, Natasha Romanoff, believed to be Tony Stark's killer, was detained by S.H.I.E.L.D. and scheduled to be sent to New York City to be questioned by Alexander Pierce. As this was happening, Nick Fury received a call from Phil Coulson, informing the director that they had found an 0-8-4 in New Mexico. Fury told Coulson to set up a perimeter and tell his agents he would arrive soon, as he was preoccupied with the Romanoff situation.

Romanoff insisted that she did not try to murder Stark, however the STRIKE agents ordered to escort her to New York did not listen. Director Fury, however, believed Romanoff, giving her the antidote that was used on Stark and tasking her with figuring out who was really responsible for his death. STRIKE agents escorted Romanoff into a truck, which promptly departed the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. Inside, Romanoff quickly escaped her cuffs and took down the STRIKE team, escaping the truck before Brock Rumlow could stop her.[1]

Assassination of Thor

Thor is shot and killed by Clint Barton

"And what of Thor, Prince of Asgard?"
"Goldilocks? You would've recruited him in a heartbeat!"
Loki and Hank Pym[src]

That night, Nick Fury arrived in New Mexico, where a facility had been constructed to investigate the 0-8-4, an unliftable hammer identified as being alien. The base was soon breached by an intruder, who incapacitated all S.H.I.E.L.D. personal that got in his way as he moved towards the room housing the hammer. Clint Barton made his way to a vantage point suspended from a crane, from which he drew his bow to aim an arrow at the intruder, who was now approaching the hammer. Fury ordered Barton to stand down, but, Hank Pym returned, and realizing that Fury would find Thor to be a worthy candidate for the Avengers, striked Barton's fingers, causing him to release the arrow, which punctured Thor's chest. Barton, despite his insistence he did not shoot, was taken into a cell for questioning.[1]

Assassination of Clint Barton

Clint Barton is murdered by Hank Pym

"Barton had a wife and kids. If he was gonna go, it wouldn't be willingly."
"You think he was murdered."
"If I had to guess, my money is on the same someone who killed Stark."
Nick Fury and Phil Coulson[src]

Shrinking to a tiny size again, Hank Pym entered Barton's head, killing him from internal wounds. Phil Coulson and his agents observed Barton's cell, where Nick Fury soon arrived, informing Coulson that the intruder had been pronounced dead. Though Barton had refused to talk to anyone, Fury entered his cell, believing he would talk to him. Instead, Fury soon discovered that Barton had been killed, making him the second official candidate for the Avengers Initiative to be killed.

In the morgue, Agent Coulson would tell Fury that they were running scans to see if Barton poisoned himself with cyanide, but Fury was certain he did not commit suicide as he had a wife and family. Rather, Fury believed that Barton had been assassinated, likely by the same person who was responsible for the murder of Tony Stark. Coulson questioned what connected the two very different individuals, but Fury soon realised the link: they were both candidates for the Avengers Initiative.[1]

Assassination of Bruce Banner

Hulk explodes due to Hank Pym

"The Avengers Initiative. Seems our killer is going after the candidates."
"If someone wanted to kneecap S.H.I.E.L.D., that's a good place to start."
Nick Fury and Natasha Romanoff[src]

The next day, Natasha Romanoff arrived at Culver University, where she met with Betty Ross, in the hope that she could analyse the injector that killed Stark. Ross took Romanoff to her lab, where she analysed the injector, and noted that the antidote had not been poisoned, but rather, some sort of tiny projectile had been ejected from the injector, in actuality Hank Pym in his shrunken form. Romanoff was then called by Nick Fury, who informed her that Barton had been killed.

Angered, Romanoff asked who was responsible, and Fury informed her that they believed Stark and Barton's murders were connected by the Avengers Initiative; as the remaining members were Romanoff and Bruce Banner, it was pivotal she find him. Romanoff remarked that she believed she already had, walking over to a closet which Dr. Ross tried to prevent her from entering. However, Banner emerged from the closet anyway, claiming there was no need for violence. However, the university was suddenly attacked by General Thaddeus Ross and the U.S. army, intending to kill Banner. Telling the soldiers she was with S.H.I.E.L.D., she ordered them to stand down, but Banner was suddenly shot in the shoulder.

General Ross demanded to know who opened fire, but his soldiers insisted none of them did. Due to the injury, Banner began transforming into the Hulk, and leaped down to fight the army, who tried to defeat him to no avail. The person who shot Banner was, instead, Hank Pym, who entered his wound and used an Enlargement Disk to increase the size of his heart, causing Banner too to expand and eventually explode, leaving Natasha Romanoff as the final candidate for the Avengers still alive.[1]

Arrival of Loki

Loki bringing his armies down to Earth

"Well, what exactly is it that brought you here, Mr. Loki?"
"Vengeance. An agent of this planet murdered Thor Odinson, the Crown Prince of Asgard."
Nick Fury and Loki[src]

Meanwhile, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Crater Investigation Site was attacked by Loki, Crown Prince of Asgard, seeking revenge for the death of his brother, Thor: the intruder who had been killed by Barton. Loki used the Casket of Ancient Winters to freeze the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and their vehicles before Fury convinced him to negotiate. Eventually, they came to an agreement, in which Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. would have until sunrise to bring Thor's killer to Loki.[1]

Assassination of Natasha Romanoff

Natasha Romanoff is killed by Hank Pym

"You won't win. Not against me. Not against S.H.I.E.L.D."
Natasha Romanoff to Hank Pym[src]

Having snuck into a library, Natasha Romanoff used Phil Coulson's password to access S.H.I.E.L.D. files about the Avengers Initiative. Romanoff then discovered that Hope van Dyne had accessed the S.H.I.E.L.D. database yesterday, despite her death two years prior. Romanoff turned on her phone to call Fury, however she was soon attacked by Hank Pym, intending to kill the final member of the Avengers; though her message had gone to voicemail, Romanoff was able to tell Fury that it was "all about Hope" before she, too, was killed by Pym.[1]

Final Standoff

Phil Coulson speaking with Nick Fury

"This Prince Loki situation is the very reason you proposed the Avengers Initiative. For a group of remarkable individuals to fight the battles we can't."
Phil Coulson to Nick Fury[src]

That night, at Isabela's Diner, Fury sat constantly replaying Romanoff's last message, trying to figure out its meaning. Phil Coulson sat down with him, explaining that while every Avengers candidate was now deceased, there was still one name left on the papers proposing the idea: Fury's own, meaning he was likely next to be killed. However, Fury then realized that he was not the only Avenger left. Returning to his car, Fury took from the glove box a pager, intending to contact Captain Marvel. In that moment, though, Fury realized the meaning of "It's all about Hope", and went to make a deal with Loki to finally defeat the one responsible for all of this.

In the early hours of the next day, Loki, using an illusion to appear as Nick Fury, arrived at the grave of Hope van Dyne in San Francisco. There, he soon encountered Hank Pym, who berated "Fury" for having it in him to come to van Dyne's grave when, in Pym's eyes, S.H.I.E.L.D. was responsible for her death. Pym explained how he had planned everything as revenge for his daughter's death, intending to make Fury watch as everything he worked for was taken from him. "Fury" continued to aggravate Pym until he attacked, but thanks to his Asgardian physiology, he was able to easily defeat him. Assuming his normal form again, Loki and the real Nick Fury watched as the Einherjar took Pym into their custody. However, moments after, Loki explained to Fury that he had decided to extend his stay on Earth, and conquer it.[1]

Avengers Disassembled

Captain Marvel reunites with Nick Fury

"They were an idea, the affirmation of humanity's need to believe that in our darkest hour, we will find our heroes."
Nick Fury to Phil Coulson[src]

The following day, Loki arrived at the United Nations building in New York City, where he announced to Earth his intent to conquer their planet. At a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, Phil Coulson and Nick Fury stood over the bodies of the five fallen Avengers, which had been placed in coffins. Coulson observed that the Avengers had been disassembled before they could ever rise to face threats to Earth. Coulson hoped that they rest in peace, but Fury affirmed that while the Avengers might, they would not, as there was still much work to be done.

Later, Fury arrived at the crash site of the Valkyrie, where he discovered Steve Rogers, frozen in the ice. As Fury welcomed the captain back, he was greeted by Captain Marvel, who asked Fury where the fight was.[1]

Asgardian Invasion

Avengers Assembled

"You're not my Natasha, but something tells me you have her spirit."
Nick Fury to Black Widow[src]

Nick Fury launched a campaign to liberate Earth from Loki's regime With the resources of S.H.I.E.L.D at his fingertips coupled with Captain America and Captain Marvel joining the Avengers. Loki and the Asgardians had an upper hand in the battle until a variant of Black Widow from another universe arrived to assist them against Loki, taking his Scepter and using it to enthrall the Asgardian prince.[2]

References

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