Why was Captain America called The First Avenger, when Hulk and Iron Man were enlisted by Nick Fury before him?

Or are the times between the Hulk & Iron Man movies meant to have taken place after Captain America's return?

  • Could you please clarify if you are/were more interested in the comics or the movies? Your question seems to indicate the latter, but you have the question tagged with the comics.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 16:34
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    I was interested in the movie universe, think someone else added the marvel-comics tag.
    – Jared
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 22:40
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    also, its important to note that both Stark and Banner were "officially" invited to join the team as science consultants, so it's arguable that Rodgers was the first person specifically recruited to be an active Avenger (though I think you'd have some trouble explaining away Barton and Romanov)
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jun 1, 2014 at 0:19
  • Also see this related question on Movies.SE: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/24407/…
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 2:26
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    If I'm not mistaken, Captain America was born in the 30's, Tony Stark was born in the 60's, and Bruce Banner is about the same age as Stark. Thor is presumably much older than any of the others, but MCU suggests that he stayed in Asgard until very recently. Thus, Captain America is the first Avenger.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 1:20

9 Answers 9


Except for the first & last few minutes, Captain America takes place during World War II, which I believe predates the modern day. Thus, as Captain America was the first of the Avengers to go around avenging things, he is the first Avenger.

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    based on this they aren't avenging anything though...
    – DQdlM
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 1:02
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    It's also interesting to note that the original "Avengers" story, after the group (Ant Man, Wasp, etc.) defrosts Captain America, they give him the title "Founding Member" of the Avengers, this implies that the group credits Cap's past heroics with their original ideology of "The Avengers". Commented May 5, 2012 at 20:44
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    Thor is much older than Captain America -- after all, he worshipped by the Vikings, who I believe predated WWII. But he wasn't avenging things on behalf of the US government until very recently. OTOH, Captain America was working for Uncle Sam from the beginning. So in this context, "Avenger" must mean "hero working for SHIELD or its precursors". Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 15:04
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    You believe that WWII predates the present day?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 31, 2014 at 22:44
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    @Richard - sometimes it's hard to tell in the Marvel universe.
    – uncle brad
    Commented May 31, 2014 at 22:57

This is a case of marketing hyperbole and careful parsing of the facts. Captain America precedes the existence, as a character of both Iron Man and Thor, in fact, he precedes the existence of all of the Avengers being one of the first and most successful of the Avenger's properties. Yes, technically the Avengers formed and THEN they found Cap but in our real world, Captain America appeared first in print.

Captain America is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (cover-dated March 1941), from Marvel Comics' 1940s predecessor, Timely Comics, and was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Thor first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby. The mythological Thor had appeared previously in Venus #12-13 (Feb-Apr 1951).

Iron Man is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).

The Avengers is a team of superheroes, appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The team made its debut in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963), and was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby, following the trend of super-hero teams after the success of DC Comics' Justice League of America.


One major reason why the first Captain America film was subtitled The First Avenger was for the sake of international marketing.

Marvel were concerned that a film called Captain America would not do particularly well in a some countries and added the First Avenger subtitle so that local distributors would have the option to drop Captain America from the title entirely. In the end this only happened in Russia, South Korea and Ukraine. [0]

There's not necessarily any in-universe logic to why he would be regarded as The First Avenger except for maybe his involvement with the Strategic Science Reserve setting in motion the creation of the Avengers Initiative. However, I suspect that it was simply the best alternate title for the film that Marvel could come up with.

[0] http://herocomplex.latimes.com/movies/captain-america-title-will-be-changed-to-the-first-avenger-in-russia-south-korea/

  • Well the SSR became SHIELD, so it does kinda make sense.
    – Baldrickk
    Commented Mar 11, 2019 at 17:07

In the Marvel Movie universe canon Steve Rogers was recruited into the Scientific Strategic Reserve, a division of the US military with elements that would be absorbed into S.H.I.E.L.D. As he was technically "avenging" acts against humanity during WWII well before the creation of the Avengers Initiative he would have been considered the First Avenger. Nick Fury used the concept of a gifted individual or group of individuals protecting humanity from threats that conventional means could not achieve. Also if you will remember neither Tony Stark or Thor had agreed to working with S.H.I.E.L.D. until Loki threatened Earth.


Capt. America was the first actual superhero and most likely Avenger initiative was based on his success. Not the first to join Avengers though.


Captain America was NOT the first Avenger. He didn't join in until the 4th Avenger comic. He was frozen in ice and the Avengers saved him and recruited him. The original Avengers are: Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Thor, and Hulk.

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    This is true for the comics. The OP, however, said that they were asking about the movies.
    – phantom42
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 15:31

Captain America does predate the Avengers, but he was not one of the first Avengers. He was a member of the Invaders with Namor, the original Human Torch and some others. Wasp came up with the name Avengers at the end of Avengers #1 and Cap wasn't unfroze until Avengers #4. All of the original, "first" Avengers had apperances that predate Avengers #1 but they weren't called Avengers until the end of issue #1.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! I don't think this answers the question being asked -- whether or not Cap actually was the first Avenger, he was definitely called "the First Avenger" in the subtitle to his movie.
    – Micah
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 17:23
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    Adding to Micah's comment, the OP has stated that he was looking for movie-universe answers. The comics definitely contradict that, but it's a separate reality.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 23:44

He is called the first Avenger because he had lived years before Iron Man and Hulk. He had been stuck in ice for decades. He survived because of the chemical which he had drank which was called something like forever live. That's the reason he is called the first Avenger.

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    While this answer is certainly true, how is this any different from the accepted answer?
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 13:57

Captin America was the first avenger because in WW2 cap was a super solder that avenged people before the other avengers where even born

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    This answer is rather vague - can you please add information to it? Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 7:18

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