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Marvel’s Avengers guide: Which Avenger should I play?

At launch, you have six superheroes to choose from

Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Black Window in Marvel’s Avengers Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix

In Marvel’s Avengers, there are six superheros you can play launch: Ms. Marvel, Hulk, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, and Captain America. In the campaign, you’ll get an introduction to each of them. But if you dive straight into the Avengers Initiative post-campaign mode, the game gives you no idea of who might fit your playstyle.

Since you can only have one hero per team — no doubling up on Thor with your friends — you’ll likely end up playing a few heroes to build out your roster. But picking the heroes you like best isn’t all about being a fan of their movies or comics. Each hero plays differently, and they all have unique skills to help them shine.

Here’s a brief description of each of the game’s six heroes, to help you pick which Avenger you want to spend your time with.

[Spoiler Warning: You don’t start the campaign with every hero, so there are some light, cosmetic spoilers here if you don’t want to know what some of the late-campaign heroes look like. If you haven’t played the campaign yet, and want to, you’ll get a good idea of the heroes from that. This does not discuss Marvel’s Avengers’ story]

Ms. Marvel

Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix via Polygon

If you’re mostly familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ms. Marvel may not ring a bell. She has stretchy powers, like Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four.

Her Intrinsic ability — the toggle bar at the top of the screen, which does something unique for each hero — causes her to Polymorph, dealing a bit more damage and auto-dodging incoming attacks. This makes her a great option if you’re new to brawling games like this one, as you can just ignore some of the incoming attacks if things get too hectic.

But Ms. Marvel is also the game’s foremost support character. Her support ability lets her heal all nearby allies instantly, which you can eventually upgrade to revive downed allies in danger. Even her assault ability pushes enemies away and deals damage to them, giving you and your friends some breathing room. She’s like a paladin, healing allies while fighting with melee.

Ms. Marvel can also smash walls to reveal secret chests or objectives.

If you love to play support classes and manipulate enemies on the battlefield, check out Ms. Marvel.

Hulk

Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix via Polygon

Hulk works exactly like you think he should, and is therefore the most straightforward of the Avengers. He smash, that’s about it. Hulk can smash walls to reveal secret chests or objectives.

Hulk is a tank and does considerable area damage. Because he’s massive, you can’t really attack anything without hitting the enemy next to them. This is great in a game like Marvel’s Avengers, since there are almost always tons of enemies in an area.

Hulk’s abilities may not be for everyone. One ability simply baits enemies to attack him and grants him some additional damage reduction, while the other allows Hulk to grab an enemy and run with them. But Hulk’s ultimate, Thunderclap, is easily the most powerful ability in the game, capable of clearing an entire arena of enemies in a single cast.

One of Hulk’s best features is his ability to pick up enemies and use them against one another. While both silly and thematically appropriate, this is actually a great way to remove one enemy — or two with an upgrade —from the equation entirely. If you’re using an enemy as a bat to beat up their friends, they can’t really attack you, can they?

Hulk’s survivability is also lifesteal based — thanks to his Intrinsic Rage ability, which increases his damage and makes him heal as he attacks — meaning his best bet for survival is to get into battle and stay in battle. He’s the game’s equivalent of a warrior class.

Hulk can smash walls to reveal secret chests or objectives.

If you’re a seasoned brawler and just want to punch the hell out of dudes, Hulk is your (big) man.

Iron Man

Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix via Polygon

Iron Man is one of Marvel’s Avengers’ most unique heroes. Unlike other heroes, whose Intrinsic bar is usually a toggle that increases damage or defense, Iron Man’s bar is his suit energy. He can switch between a wide array of weapons — repulsors, lasers, and rockets — and use his heavy attack or ranged ability to fire each weapon type, using up that Intrinsic energy.

This makes Iron Man pretty complex, as you need to pick the right weapon for the job. And, to recharge your suit energy, you need to hit enemies with melee attacks. Iron Man has a lot to juggle, but it’s also what makes him one of the game’s best and most engaging heroes.

Iron Man does go down pretty easy in a fight, so you’ll need to manage taking to the skies, and dodging to stay alive. But he can dish out some pretty ridiculous damage if you can survive. If you’re looking for a character archetype, Tony’s Iron Man is the game’s equivalent of a wizard class.

Tony can also hack computer panels, opening secret doors leading to bonus chests and objectives. You can also smash walls using his ultimate ability.

If you want to be your team’s primary damage dealer — while also providing an occasional, bonus tank with Iron Man’s Hulkbuster ultimate — Iron Man is a perfect choice.

Black Widow

Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix via Polygon

Black Widow is a complex damage dealer, like Iron Man. And while Natasha can’t fly, she does have both powerful range and melee skills.

Black Widow’s gameplay goal is to strike fast and never get hit. In fact, her Intrinsic ability gives her a massive damage boost if she can deal a certain amount of damage before getting hit. Her block ability isn’t a block at all, and instead ziplines her toward a selected enemy. This means you can effectively dash around the arena, from foe to foe, dealing damage and disappearing in an instant.

Black Widow’s abilities help her achieve this goal. She has a dart that shocks enemies in an area, distracting them, and a stealth shroud that turns everyone nearby invisible, giving them a few seconds to beat on targets without fear of repercussion. Widow’s guns — which fire in a variety of ways — also provide her some much needed range when it’s too dangerous to go in.

But like Tony, Natasha dies very quickly if things go badly. She can deal high damage in the right situation, but if you play her a little too fast and loose, you’ll find yourself needing a revive. She’s the game’s equivalent of a rogue class.

Black Widow can hack computer panels, opening doors that lead to bonus objectives or secret chests.

If you love stealth and juggling bad guys before they can ever hit you, Black Widow is the ideal option.

Thor

Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix via Polygon

Thor uses a mix of lighting and melee attacks to deal a ton of damage. But, as the son of Odin, Thor can also take a decent beating before getting knocked out.

Thor is like if Iron man did slightly less damage but could take significantly more punishment. His focus is on melee attacks, but he can also use his ranged attack for some bonus crowd control — by pinning an annoying enemy to a wall with his hammer.

Thor’s Intrinsic ability causes lightning to strike around him, dealing bonus damage and interrupting nearby enemies. His support ability surrounds him with even more lighting, and renders Thor and his allies invulnerable for a short time — making it an excellent defensive option. Thor’s ultimate, Bifrost, takes him completely off of the battlefield for a short time, giving a brief, defensive respite before crashing back down onto some enemies.

Thor’s assault ability stuns enemies and casts a massive lightning bolt through them, dealing some extreme damage to small targets. And he has some powerful combos that stun enemies very quickly, letting Thor or his allies execute them. He’s a bizarre hybrid, dealing less damage than Black Widow and Iron Man, while not being quite as tank-focused as Captain America or Hulk. Thor is a battle mage, dealing damage with his spells and his melee attacks.

Thor can smash walls, revealing bonus objectives or secret chests.

If you want a hybrid between tank and damage, Thor is the god for you. He can do it all.

Captain America

Image: Crystal Dynamics/Square Enix via Polygon

Captain America is Marvel’s Avengers’ most defensive hero, but he has some very powerful ranged combos as well.

Captain America’s Intrinsic power lets him block projectiles — and there are upgrades that increase exactly what Cap can block. Most characters have some defensive block, but Captain America’s is longer and useful in more situations. He also has several powerful combos he can activate when coming out of a defensive block. He’s the game’s version of a knight class, able to defend allies but still dish out pain.

While tanking is certainly Cap’s strong suit, it’s not the only thing he brings to the table. Cap also has very powerful shield throw abilities in his skill tree, which let you combo throws or ricochet between enemies.

If you’re someone that loves protecting others while you play, or using the game’s parry system, Cap is a solid choice of hero.

Captain America cannot break walls or hack doors. He currently has no way to unlock secret chests or bonus objectives on his own, so you should bring a friend.

The good news about Marvel’s Avengers is that you can always switch characters if you get bored. But finding your favorite hero early on can save you some time, as gear and experience are unique to each hero — meaning you have to start your progression over if you pick someone new.