Marvel’s latest hit show What if…? has confirmed once and for all exactly why The Avengers are truly the MCU’s most powerful heroes. Ironically, this elevated status doesn’t necessarily come from extraordinary abilities or physical prowess, although those are clearly available as well. Instead, the ultimate supergroup ranking comes down to something much more intangible that ultimately causes their opponents to underestimate them time and time again.
Throughout the MCU, Earth’s mightiest heroes have developed a happy habit of overcoming overwhelming obstacles in nearly impossible circumstances. Whether to repel an invading Chitauri army as a team during the events of the first Avengers movie, or acting solo during their various solo projects, the original six superheroes undoubtedly have an impressive track record. Ultimately, as seen during the climax of Infinity Saga, the crew is even capable of defeating an intergalactic titan capable of ending half of existence.
Given the long list of enemies that The Avengers have faced, their reputation is clearly well-earned. However, despite all his firepower, What if…? makes it clear that the true key to The Avengers’ success lies in their humanity. As Jeffrey Wright’s omniscient Watcher explains as he watches Clint Barton and Natasha Romanov search for the key to defeating Ultron, “You are human, you are hoping against all odds.” This highlights a constant theme that runs throughout the MCU: that it is optimism, determination, and a refusal to be defeated that defines humanity that ultimately makes The Avengers such a dangerous prospect for would-be conquerors of Earth. .
This argument is evident from Phase 1 of the MCU, and it is most obvious that it is shown during the first Avengers film. For example, the iconic “you can be sure we will avenge it” joking around with Loki is so much more than just a call to the movie title; also highlights their indomitable spirit, challenging Loki’s belief that humans are “made to be ruled “. Similarly, one of the film’s most powerful moments occurs when an old man confronts Loki in the face of impending destruction. This serves as a reminder that, even without superpowers, humanity is capable of extraordinary bravery. It is this quality that ultimately makes The Avengers capable of their most extraordinary feats.
In many ways, the plot of What if…? Episode 8 really emphasizes the point that humanity is the greatest power in the MCU. It’s extremely telling that after Ultron’s assault, Barton and Romanov, on paper, are the least powerful human characters on the team, the last two left standing. It is his human spirit, shared with the likes of Stark, Steve Rogers, and Bruce Banner, that allows them to unlock the key to saving the universe. Although the MCU is inhabited by countless super beings with fantastic powers, time and again it is those who have a close connection to humanity who are victorious.