With tomorrow’s impending release of Captain America: Civil War, the world is quivering and slavering over anything Marvel related. So I thought I’d take advantage of that enthusiasm and pitch my manager a geekout session an educational article about the Marvel heroes’ wheels of choice. For some reason he agreed, so I expect a host of comments debating my ranking and pointing out what I missed. Don’t let me down. I want to write more stuff like this during work hours.
A few notes: I’m sticking to characters within the Marvel Studios cinematic universe. That means no Sony or Fox movies or shows, so I won’t be including Cyclops’s RX-8 from X-Men 2. That also means we’ll see some rides from Marvel’s TV shows, too. For the sake of brevity, I’m sticking to heroes or vaguely heroic characters. All of these rides are in some way connected to the “good guys.” No Red Skull megatanks. Finally, again for brevity, we’re dealing with wheeled, ground vehicles only. Star Lord’s Milano is an awesome ship, but so are the helicarriers, quinjets, and so on.
This wasn’t easy, because most of these vehicles are awesome. Marvel heroes just have good taste, I guess. But I did my best to rank them, so you can argue with me in the comments. (Spoilers for cave dwellers.)
Okay, the new Impala certainly looks better than some of its predecessors, but it’s fairly pedestrian for a pre-Avenger’s ride. Maybe if it was an awesome, Aussie-ported SS muscle sedan with a manual instead of a plastichrome rental car, the freeway chase in Captain America: The Winter Soldier would go a little differently. I will give it trunk space, though. Falcon’s whole flight suit seems to fit back there.
Rhody’s A8, in which he is briefly seen when he pulls up to Tony’s house party in Iron Man 2, is likely a fine car. It’s just a bit dull. James Rhodes may be a Colonel, but he clearly knows how to cut loose, and the big, German sedan seems a bit stodgy and grey for the guy. I mean, in Iron Man, he jumps in Tony’s R8 and peels out of his garage, so there’s that.
If you’ve seen Captain America: The Winter Solider, you know how incredible this Shield-specialized SUV can be. Heavy armor, flight capability, and a machine gun/grenade launcher turret in the center console. What I can’t stand is the poor reliability. What, it gets hit with a few cop cars and ammo belts and suddenly it’s at 30% functionality? Come on, Shield. You put aircraft carriers in the stratosphere. At least you can get Nick Fury home safely without every other system crapping out.
11. Hawkeye’s 1956 John Deere 320
Really, I have no complaints about this tractor, other than that it doesn’t seem to be working in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Understandable for a 60-year-old piece of farm equipment. I just wanted to include Hawkeye, and this is the only wheeled vehicle I can remember him owning. The guy mostly flies or rides on Iron Man’s back. Let me know if I left another one out.
10. Elektra’s Ferrari F430 Spider
There are two things you can’t do to a Ferrari F430 Spider. The first is disrespect it. Even though it’s a convertible, that hardtop folds down seamlessly into the body, and its 483 horsepower get it to 60 in 3.9 seconds. The second is steal it. Come on, Elektra! What if that’s the owner’s only Ferrari? Wouldn’t you feel bad then?
9. Luke Cage’s Harley Davidson FXDB Dyna Street Bob
Right away I’ll say that I’m no huge fan of this style of bike, but it fits Jessica Jones’s Luke Cage perfectly. It’s muscular and fearless, and I hope to see more of it when Luke gets his own Netflix series. I’m not sure about his barely-there helmet, though. Sure, the guy has impenetrable skin, but he’s still at risk of head injury, as we see when his brain swells and his spinal fluid has to be drained through his eye socket.
8. Thor’s 1971 Steyr-Puch Pinzgauer
This repurposed Austrian military truck doesn’t actually belong to Thor. In fact, he probably doesn’t like it much, as it accidentally slams into him twice. But Dr. Selvig’s all-terrain research pod is incredibly cool nonetheless. What other air-cooled truck could tow 11,000 lbs? The high ground clearance and stoic durability make the Pinzgauer a popular off-roader among residents of Midgard and Asgard alike.
7. Bruce Banner’s Triumph Bonneville
Banner doesn’t like to get tied down, so he doesn’t seem to have his own set of wheels. But in The Avengers, we see him roll up to a flagging Avengers team on a classic, semi-café Triumph T100 Bonneville, one of Britain’s most iconic bikes. When the guy steals a bike, he has good taste. Still, we wish its former owner would have taken better care of it before he or she was crushed by a Chitauri dragon.
Doesn’t the C7 just fit Romanov perfectly? Her Age of Ultron electric Harley is incredible, but the C7 is smooth and sharp, mysterious and outspoken, powerful and stealthy. I want to hate obvious product placement shots, like the silly Jeep Renegade sequence in Batman v Superman, but when it’s the best looking Corvette since 1967, can you help but drool? No wonder Falcon is smitten with Natasha. Her choice is way better than his oatmealy Impala.
So you’re an ex-con working at Baskin Robbins and trying to get custody of your young daughter. What better to drive than a portholed vanpartment from the ‘70s? This timeless Econoline was perfectly cast as Scott Lang’s vehicular foil and sidekick. Someday these awesome vans will overcome their creepy stigmas and be remembered for the glorious workhorses they are. Even if they have “La Cucaracha” horns.
4. Peggy Carter’s 1938 Packard Eight
We can’t leave Agent Carter off this list. That show was a time capsule of postwar beauty, and one of my favorite exhibits is the 1938 Packard Eight Convertible Sedan owned by Howard Stark and chauffeured by Edmund Jarvis. Powered by a silky, 110 hp straight eight with an aluminum head, the Packard Eight exudes class, sophistication, beauty, and capability wherever it goes, just like Peggy.
Lola. We did not forget Lola. Not only is Coulson’s first gen Corvette a pristine example of America’s most prominent mid-century sports car, it can also fly. Coulson babies it, barring almost anyone from working on it, but still drives it whenever the mission allows. He’s a good car guy. Lola is part of his geeky collection of Shield memorabilia, and the somewhat archaic-looking design of its flight conversion suggests that it might be a Howard Stark original. Don’t touch Lola.
2. Tony Stark’s 1932 Ford Model 18 Roadster
This was not an easy decision. Tony, like his father, is a treasure trove of car enthusiasm. A Shelby Cobra, countless Audi R8s, a new Acura NSX, and even a 1978 Wolf WR1 F1 racer (tastelessly wrapped in Stark’s company livery), among many others. And while most of them now litter the coastal shelf surrounding Malibu after the fake fake Mandarin’s missile attack in Iron Man 3, we hope one in particular survived: his ‘32 Ford.
The Roadster only makes one appearance, in Iron Man, when we see Tony working on it with the help of Jarvis, his personal supercomputer. He appears to be reassembling its Flathead V8. No, he’s not electrifying it or adding an arc reactor. Tony is an innovator, but he also appreciates the classics. Classic rock, classic art, classic cars. He even tells Jarvis when he’s working on his Mark III Iron Man suit, the first with color, “Tell you what. Throw a little hot rod red in there.” Without that iconic ’32 Ford, Iron Man might have stayed Audi grey. It’s brash and loud like Tony, and I love it.
1. Captain America’s 1942 Harley Davidson WLA Liberator
Though Cap can respect a four-wheeled conveyance (“Take your feet off the dash.”), he much prefers a bike, and he’s been pretty loyal to Harley Davidson. He’s a loyal guy. He also eschews the helmet, not because he’s somewhat indestructible, but because nobody wore helmets in 1945. His post-thaw weapon of choice is a Harley Street 750, but we’re going to focus on his first motorcycle: The 1942 HD WLA Liberator.
Look at this thing. Not only is it a classic motorcycle with a Hulk-fist of a 45 cid twin, it was specifically designed by Harley Davidson for the US Army during World War II. Those mods weren’t just added for the movie, other than those rocket-tube looking weapons on the front fender. That bike really had all that gear storage out back and that ammo box on the left fork. And on the right fork, it really had a leather sheath with a Thompson, which Cap could easily and accurately fire one-handed, even though it was a .45 caliber SMG.
It’s a bike that perfectly suits Steve Rodgers’s personality. He doesn’t ask for special treatment. He just takes what’s issued him and goes to work. And like Cap, the WLA is firmly planted in the past. That 45 Flathead only cranks out about 25 horsepower, high compression and all. His modern Street 750 can do more than twice that. But despite its age, the look, utility, sound, and Rodgersness makes it the coolest wheeled Marvel Hero vehicle in the lexicon. #TeamCap.
How would you rank them? What vehicles did I miss? Fight me in the comments. Put on the suit and let’s go a few rounds.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.