Avengers Autographs: Collecting the Stars of the Blockbuster Movie
It's not often that a blockbuster lives up to the hype. The Avengers has done just that, breaking box office records and sending audiences home excited. The superhero team up is a bona fide phenomenon. For card collectors, there are plenty of Avengers autographs to track down from both lead stars and supporting players. It helps that Upper Deck released Avengers Assemble ahead of the film's release, but that set only has three signatures from the current film. But those aren't the only ones.
Earth's Mightiest Autographs
Of all the available Avengers autographs, Robert Downey Jr. may have the most mainstream appeal. He currently has two autograph cards. Downey Jr. was the headline signer for 2008 Rittenhouse Iron Man where he is pictured as Tony Stark. The following year, Rittenhouse released a limited edition variation autograph. This time the actor is shown in his Iron Man armor.
The pack-inserted Downey Jr. autograph is the more valuable of the two and it doesn't pop up often. Collectors can expect to pay $400 and up for the card. Collectors may want to take a gamble on unopened 2008 Rittenhouse Iron Man boxes, which can still be found on eBay for under $70. The set has a handful of other great autographs, including Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges (also star of The Big Lebowski and tons of other films). The Iron Man variant autograph was sold direct by the card maker. Besides being more readily available on the secondary market, it also costs significantly less. Before The Avengers came out, the card was hovering around $200. Now collectors can expect to pay $250 to $300.
Another Avengers autograph from the main cast is Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor. He has signed as the Marvel hero for both 2011 Upper Deck Thor and 2012 Upper Deck Avengers Assemble. Prices on both are over $200, partially due to their rarity. Autographs in both sets are extremely tough to come by.
Hemsworth also appears in 2009 Rittenhouse Star Trek, which is based on the movie reboot. Although he didn't have a big part in the film, it was still an important one. Selling for under $60, it's a bargain compared to his Thor autographs. Star Trek is a well-respected license in the hobby. Also, Hemsworth's Star Trek autograph is on-card. Both of his Avengers autographs use stickers.
Also getting in on the Avengers autographs action is Academy Award nominee, Jeremy Renner. Debuting as Hawkeye, Renner appears in 2012 Upper Deck Avengers Assemble. Already selling for about $170-200, this card could rise higher as the well-respected actor is seeing his Hollywood stock rise. He had a major role in last year's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and will be the lead in The Bourne Legacy, which hits theaters later this year.
Although he isn't shown on screen, there is another Avengers autograph to track down. Lou Ferrigno's connection with the Incredible Hulk dates back to the campy 1970s television series where he played the Hulk. Ferrigno returned to the role in film version starring Edward Norton. While the movie didn't get a full fledged release, Rittenhouse did make a pair of small factory sets. The first had character cards while the second had a Ferrigno autograph that was limited to 375 copies. On the card Ferrigno is pictured as a security guard based on a cameo appearance. Those who ordered three sets got a pair of variant autographs of both Ferrigno and Norton. Limited to 125 copies, Ferrigno is noted as the voice of the Incredible Hulk.
Topps also released buyback autographs a decade ago in their American Pie baseball sets. Original Incredible Huk cards from the TV show were signed. However, collectors should be very careful as many have been counterfeited. Scam artists typically take the small Topps holograms they used to use on autographs from less-desirable cards and put them on the back of a card with a forged signature.
While Mark Ruffalo takes over as both Bruce Banner and his computer generated alter ego, it has been revealed that Ferrigno's voice was used in parts of The Avengers.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
A pair of Avengers autographs are available from actors who helped lay the groundwork for The Avengers, appearing in multiple films that led up to it. Although his acting may not win him a lot of awards, Samuel L. Jackson is a Hollywood legend. His films have grossed more than any other actor in history. Sure, it seems that he's in a new movie every couple of weeks, but there's no denying his presence. Jackson has a pair of high-priced autograph cards. The first, and most valuable, is in 2005 Topps Star Wars: Episode III - Attack of the Clones Widevision. An extremely rare card, it isn't often offered online without bullish starting bids. More reasonably priced is his autograph from 2008 Inkworks The Spirt. A dud at the box office, the set is also notable for being Inkworks' last before going out of business. Collectors should be careful buying cheap boxes from the set, though. The card was a redemption meaning they can no longer be found in pack. While Jackson's Star Wars autograph pushes four figures (the Force is powerful in the hobby), his other signature card can be bought for less than $300.
The other actor appearing in multiple sets is the lesser-known Clark Gregg who plays Agent Coulson. The character plays a key role in The Avengers, despite not having any superpowers. Gregg's first autograph is in 2008 Rittenhouse Avengers. Before the film, it was selling for under $15. Now collectors can expect to pay double that. His other signed card can be found in 2011 Upper Deck Thor. It moves at about $50-70.
A third member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. group also has an autograph. Cobie Smulders, best known for TV's How I Met Your Mother, signed for 2012 Upper Deck Avengers Assemble. Singles are moving in the $175-200 range.
Other Notable Avengers Autographs
For big-time fans of The Avengers, there are also several other signatures to track down. Director Joss Whedon is one of the few directors who makes for a desirable autograph. He has a pair of autographs from his days on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Whedon's 1998 Inkworks Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season One autograph came out at a time when hits weren't guaranteed in every box. Extremely tough to come by, expect to pay $150 or more for one. More readily available are his 2003 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven autographs. These cards weren't inserted in packs but were case toppers. The major drawback on these are that they are signed on the back of the card. These Joss Whedon autograph cards sell for around $120-140.
Tom Hiddleston, who is largely unknown outside of his role as the villainous Loki, signed for 2011 Upper Deck Thor. As much a testament to the card's scarcity than the actor's name, the last two on eBay have sold for $649 and $500.
Finally, what would a Marvel product be without Stan Lee. He appears briefly in The Avengers, much like he does in almost every Marvel-themed movie. Lee has signed for many sets over the years. The most desirable is likely his 1998 SkyBox Marvel: The Silver Age. More recently he was a case incentive for both 2004 Rittenhouse Conan: The Hyborian Age and 2006 X-Men: The Last Stand. The legendary creator also appeared in 2007 Rittenhouse Spider-Man 3 and has several different signatures in 2011 Upper Deck Marvel Beginnings.
Avengers Autograph Guide
Here is a breakdown and images of the Avengers autographs available to collect. Click on links to browse for the specific cards on eBay.
Robert Downey Jr. - Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Jeremy Renner - Hawkeye
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury
Tom Hiddleston - Loki
Clark Gregg - Agent Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders - Agent Maria Hill
Alexis Denisof - The Other
Stan Lee - Old Man in TV Report
- 1998 SkyBox Marvel: The Silver Age
- 2002 Artbox Spider-Man FilmCardz (Case Topper)
- 2004 Rittenhouse Conan: Art of the Hyborian Age (Case Topper)
- 2006 Rittenhouse X-Men the Last Stand
- 2007 Rittenhouse Spider-Man 3
- 2011 Leaf Pop Century
- 2011 Upper Deck Marvel Beginnings
Lou Ferrigno - Hulk's Voice
- 2007 Sportkings Series A
- 2008 Rittenhouse The Incredible Hulk Expansion Set (as Security Guard, PR: 375)
- 2008 Rittenhouse The Incredible Hulk Expansion Set Three-Set Incentive (as Voice of the Hulk, PR: 125)
Joss Whedon - Director
- 1998 Inkworks Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season One
- 2003 Inkworks Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven (Case Topper)