From the Golden Age to their feature film debut, the Avengers are well known as Earth’s Mightiest Super Heroes. The classic crew no doubt auditioned for their super team roles by citing their godly birth, super strength and deadly aim, but Thor, Captain America, the Hulk and the rest of the squad probably left some choice bits off their applications. Really, each of these guys is just one psyche evaluation away from the loony bin. Meet the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Screw-Ups.
“Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism,” by Sandy Hotchkiss, LCSW
Tony Stark saves the world often enough as Iron-Man, but is it ever really for the right reasons? Richer than God, good-looking and smarter than an Einstein-Hawking cocktail, Iron-Man’s privileged life has created a classic narcissist. Saving the world is simply his excuse to remind everyone how brilliant and charming he is. It’s a wonder he’s able to work on a team at all, considering his attitude. Iron-Man’s clever enough, though, so maybe a little reading will avail him of his faults. More likely, though, he’d just confirm to himself that he’s smarter than anyone trying to help him.
“Beginner’s Guide to Jungian Psychology,” by Robin Robertson
God of Thunder and Lighting, Wielder of the Mighty Hammer Mjölnir, Son of Odin and Brother to Loki… really, dude? Sure, Thor’s mythic lineage might actually be true, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t spin up his own god-like qualities on (a far too frequent) occasion. So he’s dined in the Halls of Valhalla and bested frost giants, but do god-like powers make a god? The Hulk can throw down with damn near anyone and some of the X-men have put an entire planet (or solar system for that matter) on the line, but they’re not sitting around demanding sacrifice and worship. Carl Jung would have taken one look at Thor and, despite maybe being a deity, told the Norse strongman that his attitude alone predicated a gnarly God Complex.
“The Male Body,” by Susan Bordo
Listen, there’s no nice way to put this. Steve Rogers got a boob job… for America. Sure, he loves his country more than probably anyone that’s ever lived, and that patriotism is downright inspiring, but born to a skin-and-bones frame, ol’ Cap turned to a doctor to get the improvement necessary to kick Nazi ass all over Germany. Super Soldier serum is really just the heroic version of breast implants, with Captain America’s sense of inferiority fueling his unnatural quest for self-improvement.
“Bad Boys, Bad Men,” by Donald W. Black with C. Lindon Larson
It’d be a stretch to say that Hawkeye’s well adjusted, considering that no superhero, ever, really is. But, thrown in a room with some of these nutcases and he’s the one guy that might not need the padded cell. His undeniable plainness, in comparison to the absurd powers of his buddies, is both his savior, and possibly his downfall. What could Hawkeye and Thor possibly have to talk about (except maybe that one time he almost killed him)? Hawkeye is a loner – a guy with a bow, off sniping in the distance, feeling, no doubt, that his new friends might not like him that much after all.
“It Could Happen to Anyone,” by Alyce D. LaViolette and Ola W. Barnett
The Black Widow was trained as a Soviet agent in seduction and subterfuge (not to mention the requisite kicking of ass), and spent time originally butting heads with the heroes she now calls friends. Why defect, though? There’s enough lying going on in the clandestine game to fill her head with some false memories, but seriously dangerous agents just aren’t flipping sides that often. She supposedly hopped to The Avengers side to saddle up with Hawkeye, but a hefty wager says her love for him is just the standard byproduct of Stockholm Syndrome. Spend enough time getting roughed up and put in the clink by a guy, and suddenly she’s sure he’s the one to bring home for vodka and pirozhki.
“Anger,” by Thich Nhat Hanh
Is it not obvious? The Hulk is a powder keg waiting for the mosquito bite that sets him in a frothing rampage that levels half a seaboard. Bruce Banner might be a genius, but the man has anger issues. Someone get the guy some muzak or help him find the Buddha before he goes all “Hulk SMASH” on your grandma’s prize-winning petunia bed.
“Megalomania,” by Philippe Tretiak
What kind of guy does it take to gather up gods, geniuses, spies and gamma-irradiated city-leveling fellas in to a crew of his own? Probably not just a regular old agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury’s intentions might be noble, and a team of super heroes can probably do better as a team than alone, dispensing justice in their own absurd fashion, but there’s something about Fury that makes it seem like he really just likes being in charge. He’s no doubt digging the vibes from being the guy that controls the crew… that’s kind of megalomaniacal, Nick. You’re scaring us, just a bit.