Plot twists are an excellent storytelling technique. It’s exceptional when the creators can hide something in plain sight until the twist happens. In the Avengers, many creators have attempted to keep readers guessing with endings that seem to come out of nowhere.
Unfortunately, not every twist ending works. Solid writing requires foreshadowing to avoid the trap of a deus ex machina, where the story resolves out of the blue. Unfortunately, foreshadowing that’s too obvious can spoil the twist ending for fans. In The Avengers and their related series, there has been plenty to shock the Avengers, but the readers saw it coming for one reason or another.
10/10 Yellowjacket Is Hank Pym
Avengers #60 (Jan 1969) by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Mike Esposito, Sam Rosen & Herb Cooper
Near the end of the Silver Age, the Avengers had one stalwart couple. The Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, and Hank Pym, also called Goliath, were inseparable. They never seemed likely to tie the knot except in the minds of die-hard fans.
The ending came in classic Silver Age style, complete with a supervillain attack. Yellowjacket revealed himself as Hank Pym, who’d suffered a change in personality and amnesia from spilled chemicals. When Yellowjacket kissed the Wasp, she knew who was under the mask. She then married him in the grand tradition of a superhero wedding with confused identities.
9/10 Magneto Was The Father Of Quicksilver And The Scarlet Witch
Vision and the Scarlet Witch #4 (Feb 1983) by Bill Mantlo, Rick Leonardi, Ian Akin, Brian Garvey George Roussos & Janice Chiang
It was surprising when Magneto arrived in the Inhumans’ lunar city of Attilan. Magneto revealed that he was the natural father of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. It was a very shocking revelation unless a reader had seen two popular comics from 1979.
In Avengers #186, David Michelinie, Steven Grant, John Byrne, Dan Green, Roger Slifer, and Jim Novak told how the twin mutants’ mother, Magda, had fled her husband. In X-Men #125, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Terry Austin, Glynis Wein, and Tom Orzechowski had Magneto reflect on a woman he’d married named Magda, drawn the same as in the Avengers story. John Byrne and Chris Claremont meant for readers to connect the two.
8/10 Doctor Druid Betrayed The Avengers
Avengers #294 (Aug 1988) by Walt Simonson, John Buscema, Tom Palmer, Bill Oakley & Paul Becton
Following the Masters of Evil’s attack on Avengers Mansion, Marvel changed the lineup for the Avengers. In this new roster was the mentalist Doctor Druid. He joined the team in Avengers #279, where his thoughts betrayed his ambitions. When a female Kang began to manipulate him, Dr. Druid’s duplicity became inevitable.
With Captain Marvel incapacitated, he proposes a new leader election in her hospital room. With an assist from the female Kang, he controls the thoughts of all except Thor to get himself elected leader. He then proceeds to betray the team to this new villain seeking cosmic-level power.
7/10 The Vision Is Dismantled
West Coast Avengers # 43 (April 1989) by John Byrne, Mike Machlan, Paul Becton & Bill Oakley
John Byrne’s reputation is for making drastic changes whenever he takes over a title. In West Coast Avengers, he set out to shake things up immediately. He built off the dangling plot thread from Avengers #255 and had many nations work together to dismantle the Vision. It was shocking unless someone saw the house ad for Byrne’s initial story arc, VisionQuest.
In the house ad, Marvel previewed the cover of West Coast Avengers #44. It showed the Avengers fighting what looks to be the Vision without any skin. With the next issue’s cover showcasing the Vision, it wasn’t a stretch to deduce the dismantling of Vision.
6/10 The Resurrection Of The Golden Age Human Torch
West Coast Avengers #50 (November 1989) by John Byrne, Mike Machlan, Bob Sharen & Bill Oakley
The house ad for Visionquest strikes again with the return of the original Human Torch. In the house ad, the proposed cover for West Coast Avengers #46 featured the original Human Torch. Along the way, Byrne’s story detoured, postponing the Torch’s return to the 50th issue.
The characters’ shock comes when the Scarlet Witch exhibits a bold use of power. Earlier in the run, she had collapsed a warehouse and a cliffside. Resurrecting the android Human Torch didn’t seem quite as impressive to many readers.
5/10 Loki Was Behind Acts of Vengeance
Avengers West Coast #55 (February 1990) by John Byrne, Paul Ryan, Bob Sharen & Bill Oakley
At the climax of Acts of Vengeance, the mysterious suited man who’d organized the major villains revealed himself as Loki. The crossover event went through almost all Marvel titles and included some great stories aside from the core. The focus was on the Avengers, and the identity of the suited man was easy for a careful reader to deduce.
In Avengers West Coast #53, Loki, in his suit, sits on an ornate chair and peers through mysterious smoke. In other titles, he exhibited mystical powers. In Thor #413, Loki reveals himself to readers. That issue wasn’t marked as an Acts of Vengeance crossover, making it understandable if a casual reader missed it.
4/10 Iron Man Betrays the Avengers
Iron Man #323 (December 1995) by Terry Kavanaugh, Dan Abnett, Heitor Olivera, Jim Cheung, Yancey Labat, Rey Garcia, Mark McKenna, Phil Felix & John Kalisz
The Crossing was a storyline that nearly broke the Avengers. Iron Man turned out to be a murderer under the control of Kang the Conqueror. The Avengers went back in time and got a teenage Tony Stark. In the end, the adult Iron Man perished while betraying Kang.
Before the Avengers learned the truth, readers saw Stark revealed in Avengers: The Crossing #1. With that reveal, the events of Iron Man #323 are not quite as climatic as they could have been. Later issues detailed Kang’s manipulation. The initial reveal to readers might have been better saved and shared with the characters.
3/10 Elektra Was Actually A Skrull
New Avengers #31 (2016) by Brian Michael Bendis, Leinil Francis Yu, Dave McCaig & Albert Deschesne
In the middle of a heated battle, Echo killed Elektra, the head of the Hand. When Elektra died, she reverted to a Skrull appearance. This was shocking to the Avengers because there was no clue she wasn’t Elektra. Readers weren’t quite so taken aback.
Secret Invasion was heavily advertised, so readers knew reveals were coming. They didn’t know exactly who would be a Skrull. To Marvel’s credit, they maintained this uneasiness throughout the event. Advertising and hype ruined part of the surprise for devoted fans.
2/10 Captain America Is Killed
Captain America #25 (April 2007) by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Frank D’Armata & Joe Caramagna
In the aftermath of Civil War, Steve Rogers surrendered after seeing the effects his resistance caused. As he went up the steps to his arraignment, A sniper gunned him down, and Sharon Carter, hypnotized, finished the job. It would have been shocking if news coverage hadn’t spoiled it.
Marvel let the media know about the issue beforehand. Days in advance, fans learned about the events before the comic hit shops. It didn’t change its impact, but if Marvel hadn’t spilled the beans, it might have left fans as stunned as Falcon, Bucky, and Sharon.
1/10 Magneto Was Not Quicksilver And Scarlet Witch’s Father After All
Avengers & X-Men: Axis #7 (February 2015) by Rick Remender, Adam Kubert, Edgar Delgado, Jesus Abertov & Chris Eliopoulos
During the chaos of Axis, the Scarlet Witch found herself opposed by Magneto and Quicksilver. She cast a spell that affected only those that shared her bloodline. The magic didn’t affect Magneto. It appeared he was not their father, and the two might not be mutants. This didn’t surprise fans that had been paying attention to the interoffice politics at Marvel.
During this, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but Quicksilver was also included in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Then-Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter used his position to push the Inhumans because Marvel didn’t own the film rights to the X-Men.
NEXT: 10 Biggest Reveals From X-Men: Red (So Far)