The Epic Fantasy Avengers Lineup

This idea is just too hard to resist. I literally can’t help myself.

Tor.com has come up with a list of fantasy characters who they think would comprise a fictional, epic fantasy Avengers team. Naturally, I think they got it horribly wrong. And most of the commenters got it even more horribly wrong.

The spirit of the exercise is to assemble a team of individuals who represent the actual members of the Avengers from the movie. Tor.com, and the many commenters, picked too many characters who don’t actually have anything in common with the character they are supposed to correlate with. Just because you like Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen, or Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind, or whatever, doesn’t mean one of those characters belongs on the team. Plus, it ruins the exercise to list too many or too few members. That’s just dumb.

Of course, you can only pick characters from books you’ve read, so my list will have its own idiosyncrasies. Unlike Tor.com’s misnamed team, I’m actually going to limit my choices to epic fantasy—no modern fantasy, no games or movies, and no mythology.

So, here is my own personal list:

 

 The Epic Fantasy Avengers

Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien)

Aragorn is the perfect replacement for Captain America, the leader and patriotic super-soldier. He takes up the role with some reluctance, but he stands for what’s good and right in the world. Aragorn lacks the shield, but he has a sweet magic sword and he protects those in need. Tor.com’s choice was King Arthur, but as a historical figure, however epic he may be, he’s out of the running for me.

Dalinar Kholin (The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson)

For Iron Man, the armored, flying “genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.” The problem with picking a replacement for Iron Man is the armor. Dalinar’s not a perfect fit, but he’s about as close as you’re going to get. He’s got a full suit of magically powered plate armor that’s virtually impenetrable and lets him make gigantic leaps. That’s kinda like flying, right? He’s also rich (uncle to the king) and philanthropic (he gives away his freaking Shardblade to a commoner!). There really was no other choice, here.

Logen Ninefingers (The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie)

He fills the Hulk’s spot. Logen’s not a scientist or even particularly smart, but he’s a somewhat normal, likeable guy who occasionally turns into an unstoppable killing machine. Perhaps the most obvious choice would have been Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, but unfortunately he’s not an epic fantasy character. Someone suggested Fezzik from The Princess Bride. Wha…? He’s big, sure, but he’s like a big fuzzy teddy bear. He’s about as far removed from a psychotic rampager as you can get. Sadly, it’s tough to find a good picture of Logen Ninefingers. He deserves a lot more attention. The picture here is decent, but I pictured Logen a lot bigger.

Perrin Aybara (The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan)

Thor, the demi-god with a magic hammer, was a tough one to replace. On the one hand, Thor’s role is essentially just a generic damage dealer, but on the other hand, he has some fairly specific traits, like the hammer. In the end, Perrin won out for me largely because of the magic hammer (as of Towers of Midnight, which I actually have yet to read) but also because of the strength and the beard. Perrin’s no demi-god, but he does have the whole ta’veren thing on his side. Another choice I considered was Conan the Barbarian. Alas, he lacks the magic. Conan is like anti-magic. I even temporarily considered Aragorn for this role, but I needed him more as a leader.

Vin (Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson)

Vin replaces Black Widow, the superspy assassin. When burning pewter, Vin is super strong and fast. Burning steel and pushing on a bunch of coins basically functions as a firearm. As with the others, Vin’s not a perfect fit, but epic fantasy has an unfortunate lack of femme fatale characters. But personally, I prefer a female character who can take out entire fortresses full of baddies without having to play the sex object. (Here’s a kick butt picture of Vin that was the wrong size for this post.)

Mistborn’s Vin in the Fantasy Avengers

 

Legolas (The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien)

He fills the role of Hawkeye, the specialist archer, and beats out Robin Hood because, well, Robin Hood isn’t magic. The only other super-archer I can think of would be Birgitte Silverbow from The Wheel of Time, but the obvious problem with her is gender. Sorry, Birgitte. There just aren’t that many awesome archers out there.

 

Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien)

Originally I was going to try not to pick two characters from the same book, but really, who better than Gandalf to play Nick Fury, the mentor, manipulator, and motivator behind the scenes? Besides, if any book deserves to get more than one character, it would be The Lord of the Rings. Nick Fury is actually a hard one to cast, since he has two incarnations in the comic books—the original white Fury and the more recent black Fury that was actually modeled after Samuel L. Jackson, who also plays him in the movie. Plus, Fury is more than just a mentor/leader—he’s a pretty hard-core gun-toting soldier. Picking Gandalf is kind of like splitting things 50/50. He’s basically a white Fury emphasizing the mentor/leader aspects of his character from the movie. This role has a few other serious contenders, prime among them Moiraine (wrong gender) and Allanon (not as likeable as Gandalf). If nothing else, Gandalf wins because of the whole smoking thing.

So there you go. Who would you pick? Did I miss anyone obvious?

9 comments so far

  1. Fluffrick | Saturday, 12 May 2012, 7:34 am |

    I think what the original TOR blog post shows us is that, as fun as it is to come up with a team listing like this, there really isn’t a fantasy equivalent of “The Avengers” to be drawn from literature.

    Square pegs, round holes and all that.

    Interesting choices on your list – I will be checking out Brandon Sanderson’s stuff as many people are recommending him to me.

  2. Ben | Saturday, 12 May 2012, 8:25 am |

    I agree. In some ways, it’s an exercise in futility, but it’s fun to think about anyway.

    Sanderson is good. I mean, he does have his weaknesses, like any author. His writing style is good but not nearly as slick as, say, Patrick Rothfuss. But Sanderson’s plotting is top-notch–intricate and full of incredible twists and surprises that you never see coming but make total sense. I recommend Mistborn to everyone. I have yet to hear of anyone who was disappointed.

  3. Riotimus | Saturday, 12 May 2012, 11:51 am |

    That was a lot of fun. I didn’t disagree with any of your picks outright. R.A. Salvatore’s Wulfgar would be another option for the Thor role, but I don’t think you’ve read those, so they wouldn’t be on your list to draw from. I, on the other hand, have never read Sanderson anything, but your descriptions here make me think that I should move him up on my reading list. I love these character substituting lists.

    R.

  4. Ben | Saturday, 12 May 2012, 9:58 pm |

    Thanks to you, Salvatore is now on my list. I don’t think you’d regret giving Sanderson a chance.

    I still feel bad for letting LotR dominate this one. Maybe I should swap out Gandalf for Allanon. Allanon may not be black, but he has a black beard and wears a black robe. Plus, he’s a little more into outright kicking butt than Gandalf. Hmmmm…

  5. Ben | Saturday, 12 May 2012, 10:04 pm |

    BTW, Fluffrick up there made his own list with some pretty interesting picks. He allowed himself a wider range of characters to choose from, kinda like the original Tor.com post. Fun stuff!

    http://fluffrick.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/epic-fantasy-avengers-assemble-22/

  6. Riotimus | Monday, 14 May 2012, 11:53 am |

    Allanon has that “mission is way more important than you” quality that Nick Fury sometimes exhibits. I think that would make a very interesting story to have him trying to put and keep together a team of epic heroes.

    R.

  7. Ing | Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 1:08 pm |

    If you’re making an epic fantasy equivalent of the Avengers, then of course LoTR would dominate it — as it dominates all fantasy everywhere.

    I agree with almost all your choices, as far as I’m familiar with them; I haven’t read a lot of the books you’re drawing from.

    You did get one thing completely wrong, though. You *have* to delve into mythology (or at least the mythology of a fantasy story) for a Thor equivalent. Hercules could do the job, easy. There are bound to be other choices I can’t think of at the moment…

    You really need that myth-come-to-life component; it’s part of what makes the Avengers unique.

  8. Ben | Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 1:16 pm |

    Actually, now that you point that out I think Perrin is an even better fit than I first realized. As a ta’veren, he IS like a myth come to life. The world warps itself around him. He’s like one of the immortal heroes who keep getting reborn over and over to fit the needs of the Pattern. It works within the mythology of his own world, at least. So there!

  9. Ing | Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 2:20 pm |

    Eh… I guess you could make that case, but I still don’t buy Perrin in the mythological role. He’s too human. Thor is an actual god, and you’d need some sort of “fallen” god to properly fill his spot. Even though Hercules was mortal before his apotheosis, he was a demigod who did things no other mortal could hope to do.

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