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Looking at the Avengers with Conditional Formatting

The first summer blockbuster of 2015 was released two weeks ago—The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The first Avengers film featured a pretty well known cast of superheroes (if, of course, you’re a superhero fan). However, in the 40-year run of the Avengers comic book, that team has evolved to keep the material fresh and to allow some characters to go their solo ways.

I want to use Minitab's statistical software to look at some characteristics of the ever-evolving Avengers roster, as well as compare the first roster to the one we see on film. We’ll only be focusing on Volume 1 of the comic book series, which ran from 1963 to 1966, for 407 issues.

On GitHub, you can find a list of all superheroes/villains ever created for the Marvel Universe along with these characteristics:

  • Is the character good, bad or neutral?
  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Sex of the character
  • Sexual orientation
  • Alive or deceased
  • # of Total Appearances as of Sep 2, 2014
  • The month and year of character's first appearance, if available

Creating a Subset of Data about The Avengers

I started my data analysis with a new tool added to our most recent release of Minitab, conditional data formatting. I right-clicked on the name column and selected Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cell > Match from List. I then looked for the characters from the team in the 2012 film The Avengers:

  • Iron Man
  • Captain America
  • Thor
  • Black Widow-Natalia Romanova
  • Hawkeye
  • The Hulk

Next, I right-clicked on my Name column again and chose Subset Worksheet > Include Rows with Formatted Cells.

Interestingly, all the characters on this team have gone public with their identity. Well, Thor is listed as “No Dual Identity,” but wouldn’t that mean he’s still public?

Another fascinating tidbit is that the youngest Avenger on screen, Black Widow, is 51 years old. We’re watching characters that were created over 50 years ago!

Which Marvel Superhero Is Most Likely to Show Up? 

Among the movie Avengers, Captain America has the highest number of in appearances in comic books at 3,360, but how does he rank against the entire Marvel universe? Returning to the original worksheet, I highlighted the Appearances column, right-clicked and navigated to Conditional Formatting > High/Low > Highest Values.

After pressing OK, I right clicked on the column again and went to Sort > Entire Worksheet > Formatted Cells at the Top.

Four of the six characters from the Avengers film appear in the above list.  Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, and Jonathan Storm make up part of the superhero group The Fantastic Four. Scott Summers, also known as Cyclops, and Wolverine are part of the X-Men. Not surprisingly, the very popular Spider-man is at the top. Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, and Spidey were part of the Avengers at one point as well.

The Avengers #1 (Sept  1963) did not feature Captain America, Black Widow, nor Hawkeye. (Although Cap did replace the Hulk in issue 2.) Here are the founders:

  • Iron Man
  • Thor
  • Henry Pym (Ant-Man, Giant-Man)
  • Janet Van Dyne Pym (Wasp)
  • Hulk

Wasp has 1,120 appearances in comics and Ant-Man has 1,237. That may not seem like so many compared to the Hulk’s appearances, but they’re right up there with popular Marvel characters such as Charles Xavier(Professor X) and Nick Fury.

Identity, Gender and Survival Among the Avengers

I then went ahead tagged all characters in the Marvel Universe who at one point or another were part of the Avengers team. Using Minitab’s Pie Chart, I looked at a few more characteristics from the data set mentioned earlier. (Keep in mind I am only looking at rosters for the Volume 1 comic series)  Here is a chart of the percentage of Avengers who have chosen to reveal their identity to the public:

I wasn’t expecting a split like this. I began wondering if, at any given time, the rosters mostly fit into just one specific category. Or was it always a sort of “mix and match”, where half an Avengers' roster would keep their identities secret?

How about Gender?

I frankly thought the percentage for men was going to be higher than 68.1 percent. Unfortunately, this graph doesn’t indicate how long each character stayed on the team. It would be interesting to look at longevity and how long, on average, female characters stayed on the roster compared to the men.

Our last pie chart takes a look at what percentage are still alive. Sadly, it’s not all fun and games at the Avengers Mansion.

However, if you split the above chart by gender:

If you’re a female superhero, joining the Avengers is the safest decision you could make!

I hope you enjoyed this diversion into world of comics and superhero fandom! 

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