- The first Avengers story ever had Loki be defeated by Ant-Man. As he held the heroes at bay by making himself radioactive, an army of ants opened a hatch beneath him, causing him to fall into a lead-lined room where he could be taken back to Asgard.
- Issue 4 has the iconic image of Captain America being frozen in ice, as the Wasp recognizes him. When he wakes up, he assumes the worst and attacks the Avengers, catching them massively off-guard. He was only stopped by the Wasp growing to her full size in front of him, causing him to hold back and come to his senses.
- In issue 5, the Avengers are dealing with a large, alien rock that is about to detonate and can only be neutralized if it's hit very hard in the one spot that isn't pulsing. Thor's hammer would be perfect for the job... except that he was knocked unconscious as Donald Blake. So the Wasp deliberately agitates the Hulk into attacking her. He punches the rock's vulnerable spot when trying to hit her, which destroys the rock and saves the world.
- In Fantastic Four #243, Galactus has imprisoned the FF in force field bubbles and is about to feast upon Earth, reaching for the switch to activate his planet-demolishing machine...and then a blast of lightning rocks him away as Thor and the other Avengers arrive to help the FF.
- Ultron, and an army of Ultron drones (each one capable of handling an Avengers team), has committed genocide of an entire country, held off a massive UN invasion force, and the Avengers wade into the battle anyway and are overwhelmed. In his headquarters Ultron is gloating to his prisoners when a wall explodes, revealing Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, Firestar and Captain America wounded, bleeding, their costumes in shreds, but still standing . Thor sums up the situation:
Hank Pym: Hey, "Son" —Ultron: Eh?Hank Pym: I've got a present for you!
- And then Ultron kicks their asses. The narration even states that they wouldn't have been able to beat him with their full strength. And then the Scarlet Witch's Hex Power, the only hope they had of beating him, backfires making him more powerful than ever. At which point Justice, who had been left back at the base due to a broken leg (which he got due to his refusal to stay on the sidelines), shows up. He has spent his time studying every encounter anyone has ever had with Ultron, desperately searching for anything which might be useful. He has flown half-way across the world, still with a broken leg, to deliver something that might be useful. Which he hands over to... Hank Pym, the usual Butt-Monkey of the Marvel superhero community and the creator of Ultron. Who proceeds to destroy Ultron by savagely beating him with Applied Phlebotinum that dissolves metal. And if you don't understand the significance of that: Ultron is a robot.
- For the villain side, basically everything Kang the Conqueror does in the Kang Dynasty storyline that lasted for a year and a half. The first thing he does is give a speech, broadcast worldwide, that lasts for basically a whole issue...but even if he had vanished from the story immediately afterward, this would STILL be a crowning moment, as that one speech leads to military coups, invasions by two separate subspecies of humanity, worldwide supervillain uprisings, basically more chaos than most villains accomplish in their entire career. But, naturally, he doesn't vanish and becomes more and more badass as the story continues, until he conquers the entire planet Earth through military cunning and a knack for predicting his enemies, something no other Marvel villain had ever done. This story essentially turned him into Marvel's version of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
- The Under Siege storyline from Avengers 273-277. Baron Zemo led a huge group of supervillains in an all-out assault on the Avengers' headquarters. The villains beat Hercules to the brink of death)(having got him drunk enough to barely stand via Honey Trap) and tortured Captain America by tearing up mementos from his past and brutalizing Jarvis in front of him, but the heroes—led by the Wasp—rallied to win the day.
- The Wasp and Ant-Man (Scott Lang) fought off the Absorbing Man and Titania. In particular, Ant-Man uses his shrinking spray on super-strong Titania to even the odds.
- Thor and Doctor Druid showed up to help the heroes gain a second wind.
- Captain America's final defeat of Zemo at the end.
- When the Grim Reaper used a group of dead Avengers in a plan against the Avengers. Every member gets taken down, except the Scarlet Witch, who arrived late that day. The lead dead guy was her lover, who has been Not Quite Dead lately. While tied to a chair, she basically talks at them until she can use her magic to try and convert them. The end result is left a little vague for dramatic reasons, so when the heroes go back to their former master, someone just has to say something:Wonder Man: You brought us back because you though it would be poetic to use us as your pawns... but you forgot something. We're Avengers. And the Avengers will oppose you... to the bitter end... and beyond."
- Special mention should go to the cover: the undead heroes, breaking to fourth wall to stare out at the reader. The blurb reads "Yeah, they're dead... wanna make something of it?"
- Simon had another CMOA during the Michael/Korvac saga (Avengers #177): after Michael mows down every member of both the Avengers and the Galactic Guardians, he's the first of the survivors to recover and goes one-on-one, overcoming months of aggravatingly whiny self-doubt to do it:Wonder Man: "Get up, Mike, I want to slug you again! I see you're getting your energy back, but I don't mind! After all, I'm the strongest man alive, my fists hit like Thor's hammer... and I'm not afraid anymore!."
- In Avengers #400, Jarvis has been tricked by Loki to use his knowledge of Avengers' history to conjure duplicates of EVERY VILLAIN THE AVENGERS HAVE FACED BEFORE. When Loki doesn't have more use to Jarvis, he tries to kill him, but Jarvis activates his Avengers commcard. He has only one card, but it's an ace. The seven Avengers still conscious ignore enemies that were about to kill them moments before, because one of them (Jarvis) is in danger.
- During the Onslaught Saga, the Avengers face Holocaust and Post. When Cap says "We cannot defeat them" Wasp thinks all hope is lost. It turns that Cap meant they needed to use their own strength against them. Cap activates Post's camouflage to trick Holocaust into shooting the invisible Post (trying to hit Cap). When Holocaust notices he was tricked, he gets so confused that he becomes defeatable by Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
- The ending of Avengers Forever. When the Timekeepers fling an army of every single evil Avenger that ever existed in the multiverse at the tiny group of time-hoppers brought together to stop their plans, what do said time-hoppers, who have already been through multiple battles do? Proceed to fight like hell, until Rick Jones succeeds in channeling the power he got from the Kree Intelligence in such a way that they can summon up every Avenger who hasn't turned to aid them. The ensuing melee is epically awesome.
- Carlos Pacheco gets a CMOA for this as well, considering the sheer amount of characters he had to draw for both of those scenes.
- One of Tony Stark's Iron Man armors underwent a viral-invasion-induced metamorphosis, turning him into a naked woman with a silvery gleam on her body who turned out to be Ultron. After announcing her intent to destroy the Earth, the Avengers fight her off, so she pulls off several plans to keep it going. With time running out, the Avengers pull a desperate plan. Hank Pym shrinks down the Avenger Ares, and launches him into the mouth of the female Ultron, so he can defeat her from the inside with his secret weapon: A Commodore 64.
- For added amusement/WTF factor, that naked metal woman? Was a double of Pym's ex-wife Janet (Ultron has a thing for his 'father''s wife), who was also part of the plan to take it down.
- Awesome, if not for the Avengers - this Hank Pym wasn't actually Hank Pym, but a Skrull infiltrator. Making this a CMOA for the Skrull Nation.
- For added amusement/WTF factor, that naked metal woman? Was a double of Pym's ex-wife Janet (Ultron has a thing for his 'father''s wife), who was also part of the plan to take it down.
- The low-level legacy hero Triathlon meets the guy whose power he inherited. Senior guy muses that he should return to action, despite not having any powers, getting by on simply being "old school. And nothing beats old school!"; then he comes to his senses and gives Triathlon his original goggles, which let him see shapeshifters. A day later, Triathlon stumbles onto a secret conspiracy of shapeshifting aliens, and singlehandedly defeats a superpowered sleeper agent. The alien starts whining that his race spent years working on ways of avoiding detection by the humans. Triathlon's response:"See these goggles? They're old school. And nothing beats old school." (cue the villain getting a sword through his head)
- During the Avengers: Disassembled story arc, after the mansion's been leveled, Ant-Man and The Vision are killed, She-Hulk's gone berserk, and Iron Man has humiliated himself things look pretty grim. While SHIELD is investigating what happened, Captain America is told by Hawkeye that some other heroes are here. Cap goes out and sees nearly every former and reserve member of the Avengers has come to help.
- The first day after the Parker Family moves into Avengers Tower, May tells Wolverine, "There's no smoking and no drinking in the breakfast room until after noon at the earliest," plucking the burning cigar out of his face and dropping it into the drink in his hand.
- Ares gets several MOA during his Avenger career:
- During a battle with Iron Man's armors controlled by female Ultron he ran out of ammo, so he just ripped in half one of the armors and used its rocket legs to burn other ones.
- Later in the same battle he jumped at one of the armors, embedded a knife in its head and used it to steer while he rode the armor.
- In his own mini-series he got two new ones, first by shooting at people with a Gatling gun, while drinking a beer in other hand, and second by surfing a bomb.
- In "Breakout", in New Avengers, Daredevil, Spider-Woman and Foggy Nelson are cornered by Carnage in a cramped prison 42 stories underground. Nelson pleads with the then unknown Sentry to step out of his catatonia and help them. A few panels later we see him walk up to Carnage, grab him by the throat and take off straight up. The next page is nothing but a dozen "Boom" sound effects over the exterior of the prison, and then we see him rip Carnage in two in the stratosphere.
- The issue to mark the end of Kurt Busiek's first year on the title. Backstory: the Vision, an android, had been angsting a lot about what his wife had had to endure because of his... unique ability to cheat death. He decides on a workaround where he uses his "deaths" as grounds for an annulment, then acts more "robotic" and "logical" around her. He's just been caught out on this when, in their current mission, he has to make contact with some heroes trapped in a giant robot using his built-in comms. This proves difficult. But rather than do the "logical" thing and go for help:"No! I admit, it is more... painful... than I had anticipated... but this is a setback! I can amplify the signal... scan for the carrier wave... and I will maintain the link!"
- When Ms. Marvel was raped by Marcus Kang and later gave birth to him, the Avengers didn't seem all too concerned and were in fact thrilled when Carol was pregnant. Cue Chris Claremont and Avengers Annual #10, in which Carol rips the team a new one for their behavior.
- One that needs to be seen to be appreciated. Count Nefaria has gained amplified copies of the powers of Whirlwind, Living Laser, and Power Man - turning him into a Captain Ersatz of Superman, power-wise. He proceeds to wipe the floor with the Avengers, hoping to draw out Thor and learn the secrets of immortality. Thor finally appears, Nefaria goes Oh, Crap!...but then Nefaria takes out Thor, anyway, and the only hope the Avengers have left is the Vision. The entire team piles on Nefaria, keeping him off balance, until the Vision plummets from the stratosphere at maximum density to ram Nefaria into the ground, finally taking him out.
- One of the earlier examples, from issue 6 - Captain America comes face-to-face with Zemo, the man who was responsible for Bucky's death and Cap's freezing, and he has this to say:"I fought your kind, Zemo! I fought you every day of that war! You said Americans were weak! You said we could never fight for freedom. Well, feel this grip tyrant! It's the hands of a man who loves his liberty! Look into my eyes, and know that I would die for my freedoms! The world must never mistake compassion for weakness! And while I live - it won't!"
- Monica Rambeau is pretty much made of these, at least under certain writers. Her biggest highlight is probably attacking Zeus, as lightning, and actually hurting him. She was also chosen as leader of the Avengers not long after she joined them. Al Ewing on Mighty Avengers has been giving her a lot of awesome moments, including single-handedly killing a Mindless One - a magical being that's pretty much unstoppable.
- Though Monica herself would disagree with that last point, since she really didn't want to kill it.
- In the 2003 story "Standoff", Captain America is trying to prevent a war from escalating.Cap: Stand your ground, soldiers.Officer: I have orders. Direct from the President of the United States. Move out!Cap: Stand. Your. Ground.All of the soldiers salute Cap.
- A collaboration between Marvel and Hajime Isayama has birthed the Crossover mini-comic Attack on Avengers: the Earth's Mightiest Heroes (along with Spider-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy) go toe-to-toe with massive humanoid man-eating monsters!
- During the Ultron Forever mini-series, the Walt Simonson-era Thor and Lady Thor are attacked by another Thor in a Bad Future, one working for Ultron. The first issue ends with Ultron!Thor impaling Simonson!Thor with his sword... only for the next issue to begin with Simonson!Thor revealing that he's from the time where Hela cursed him, and therefore being impaled can't kill him. Thor then shocks Ultron's means of control out of his counterpart by creating a storm inside him.
- Later on, how does Ultron, who has become godlike, and capable of deflecting Mjolinr, get defeated? Thor gives his hammer to Lady Thor, and she uses them to smash a hole in time, utterly atomizing Ultron.
- From issue 3 of Volume 3, near all of the Avengers up to that point short of Cap and Hawkeye have been brainwashed by Morgana Le Fay into believing she rules the world. Then Cap remembers the world as it should be. His first priority, find Hawkeye and get him to remember just by staring at him. Then they go find everyone else. Cap makes a speech, imploring everyone to remember. The Wasp, and Monica Rambeau remember, and then Justice as well, despite Hawkeye pointing out he wasn't actually an Avenger (he and Firestar had just been tagging along with Rage). If it hadn't been for Namor's awful temper, Cap would've gotten all of the Avengers to remember then and there.
- As to how the five of them escape an entire team of brainwashed and angry Avengers? Thor arrives to cover them.
- In the Mighty Avengers vol. 2, the Scarlet Witch is not really the Scarlet Witch. The Young Avengers summoned her to make questions, but she tried to kill them instead. And also Ronin (Clint Barton), who joined the fight. Barton confirmed that she was not her by jumping to her and stealing a kiss from her, in the middle of the battle.Ronin: The lips don't lie. You are not Wanda.
- Faithful Servant, published shortly after Under Siege, consisted of Jarvis recovering from Mr. Hyde's assault and reliving his past adventures, debating on whether or not to rejoin the Avengers. He ultimately decided that despite the risks, he would.
- From Geoff Johns' run, in "Red Zone", Captain America makes an entrance as the villain is monologuing.Captain America: Skull... don't you dare salute that flag!
- The 2018 run is quickly shaping up to be the most epic so far.
Robbie: The Ebony Blade is bleeding! Whatever that is! And my brother Gabe is home alone in Hillrock Heights! And he's scared! #$%& THAT! NOBODY MESSES WITH MY BROTHER!
- The first challenge for the new lineup? A team of Celestials so powerful that they defeated Odins own team of Avengers a millennia ago.
- When it finally comes time to face the Celestials head on, the team does so with flair: Thor and She-Hulk use an artifact from Jotunheim to grow to the size of Frost Giants, Iron Man calls in a golden Humongous Mecha, and Ghost Rider, with a little encouragement from Cap, finds a new ride in the form of an already beaten Celestial.
- At the end of the first arc, Iron Man figures out the solution to stopping the Horde: the team needs to combine their powers and pour them all into a single member. And who gets the honor of taking down the Horde? Robbie Reyes, the newbie. Who proceeds to snap out of his Heroic BSoD to straight up incinerate the entire swarm in one massive blast.
Ghost Rider: Everyone keeps telling me I'm the worst Ghost Rider ever. Like that's supposed to be some kinda insult. But what the hell have the Ghost Riders ever done? Except bring misery on themselves and everyone they love. Except die alone or go bat-$%#@ crazy. Well, that's not me, Uncle Eli. That's not how I'm going out. To hell with being a Spirit of Vengeance. I'm an Avenger. And I'll be damned if I'm losing this race.
- Another one for Robbie; At the end of the "Challenge of the Ghost Riders" arc, Robbie delivers this speech to his uncle in Hell, who's possessing the corpse of a Dark Celestial, before knocking him out with his own damn arm:
Natasha: I'll be damned. I've known a few Ghost Riders in my time. But I can already tell...There's sure as hell something special about this kid.
- Even if it doesn't last, Robbie taking down the Silver Surfer and appropriating his board. When you can impress the Black Widow, you're doing something right.
- In Avengers Annual #16, Grandmaster has stolen the powers of Death and plans to destroy the universe. He challenges the Avengers, West Coast Avengers, and Silver Surfer to battle the Legion of the Unliving to save the universe. In the end, the Avengers defeated the Legion, while stopping four of the five life-bombs, but everyone except Captain America and Hawkeye died. The Grandmaster then sent the life-bombs out again, planning to pit Hawkeye and Cap against the Legion again, now including their fallen teammates. As Grandmaster prepares to start the fight again, Hawkeye stops him and proposes a game of chance. Hawkeye holds two arrows, one with an arrowhead and one without. If Grandmaster chooses the one with the arrowhead he wins, otherwise he loses. Grandmaster, who has built his life on games of skill and chance, accepts. He loses. Distracted, Death releases herself and drags Grandmaster away, before restoring everything to normal. Cap then asks Hawkeye what he would've done had Grandmaster chosen right. Hawkeye then reveals that Grandmaster had chosen right, but that he had cheated, having held the arrowhead down as Grandmaster took the shaft. Hawkeye managed to save the universe by exploiting Grandmaster's nature and cheating.Hawkeye: Cap, ol' boy, when are you gonna learn that in this world— you just gotta make your own luck! (shows Cap arrowhead)Captain America: You...cheated?!?Hawkeye: A trick from my old carny days! The whole universe was at stake! Did you expect me to be a cornball like you...and play fair?
Awesome / The Avengers
The Avengers comics. See here for the 2012 Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.