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Everything You Need To Know About Marvel's Wrecking Crew

The Wrecking Crew is one of Marvel's oldest and most durable supervillain groups. Accidentally created thanks to Asgardian magic, the team is led by Dirk "The Wrecker" Garthwaite, who brought in a bunch of guys he met in prison to bolster the ranks. The default setting for the Wrecking Crew has either been in prison and about to bust out, or out menacing the public. Riffing on the whole construction worker theme, the other members include Henry "Bulldozer" Camp, Brian "Piledriver" Calusky, and Dr. Eliot "Thunderball" Franklin.

The Wrecking Crew is so much fun because their motivations are simple. The Wrecker is a thug given the powers of a demi-god, so he wants money, power, and the freedom to do whatever he wants. He also wants a crew to hang out with, and Bulldozer and Piledriver in particular like having someone to give them orders and come up with plans. Their powers and their names match up so precisely: They are super strong, and they wreck things. They're also thugs-for-hire, so they've been the muscle for some of the biggest supervillain teams going.

The Wrecking Crew concept is so easy to understand that they've been featured in a lot of other media. In addition to their MCU debut on "She Hulk: Attorney at Law" as thugs powered by Asgardian construction equipment, they've also appeared on "The Super Hero Squad Show," "Ultimate Spider-Man," and "Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H." Let's take a deep dive into this ragtag Marvel team.

Two ridiculous origin stories

The best thing about Dirk Garthwaite is his absolute commitment to his persona. Even before he was granted magical powers, he dressed up in his green and purple outfit simply to carry out burglaries. He actually called himself The Wrecker back then, despite just being a regular thief. Think The Wet Bandits from "Home Alone," just with more muscles.

Garthwaite doesn't become a genuine supervillain until he happens upon a depowered Loki on Earth. He knocks him out, intending to rob him. Unbeknownst to the Earthling, Loki has just called upon Karnilla — the evil queen of the Norns — for a magical boost. In a hilariously contrived scene, the Wrecker tries on Loki's helmet, and Karnilla mistakes him for the God of Mischief and powers him up.

The Wrecker then lives up to his name, destroying buildings and using his new power to banish Sif, Balder, and Loki back to Asgard. He beats a depowered Thor to within an inch of his life and is set to conquer the world until Karnilla sends the armored Destroyer after him, powered by Sif's spirit. The Destroyer makes short work of him.

Years later, the Wrecker convinces his cellmates in prison to help him bust out and find his magical crowbar. In yet another stunning leap of logic, he tells them all to hold hands when they are in the middle of a thunderstorm. When a lightning bolt strikes them, it not only powers up the crowbar, it also allows the Wrecker to share his power with the other three. And so, the Wrecking Crew is born.

Work-for-hire for the Masters of Evil

When the Wrecker is leading his team, they certainly do damage, but he doesn't have the brainpower to really scheme against his enemies. They go out, wreck stuff, and some hero finds a way to outsmart them. However, their raw power makes them an incredible threat when guided by someone with more than a few gray cells to rub together. No one has ever had a better sense of how to deploy the Wrecking Crew than Baron Helmut Zemo, the leader of the Masters of Evil.

Knowing that the Avengers' teamwork and numbers made them difficult to defeat, Zemo decided to use their own strategy against them. He studied the roster for weeks, trying to find personal weaknesses — not easy when you're dealing with literal gods. In 1986's "Avengers Vol 1" #273, Zemo counters this by recruiting as many powerhouses as possible, including Goliath, Mister Hyde, and the whole Wrecking Crew. They easily overpower Captain America and the Black Knight, and then the Wrecking Crew beat a drunken Hercules into a coma.

Much later, in 2017's "Thunderbolts Vol 3" #10, the Wrecking Crew helps Zemo capture the reformed Atlas, who had served Zemo as Goliath. They go after the Thunderbolts and their leader, the Winter Soldier, capturing him and several other members. Wrecker and Thunderball went on to join HYDRA's Army of Evil led by the alternate-universe Captain America in the "Secret Empire" story. They are perfect cannon fodder; strong and nearly invulnerable.

The thorn in Thor's side

The Wrecker was created thanks to Asgardian magic, and he's been a pain in Thor's godly butt — both in solo titles and with the Avengers — for many years. Thanks to Thor being depowered in their first meeting, the Wrecker nearly kills him, but he ultimately ends up behind bars. However, the Wrecker escapes his captivity, gets his magical crowbar back and goes hunting for vengeance. Their second fight (the highlight of "Thor Vol 1" #171) does not go well for the Wrecker as Thor overpowers him, electrocutes him on a subway rail, then uses his hammer to drain the Wrecker's power.

After another stint in prison, the Wrecker escapes by getting into the head of a guard and having him bring the convict his trusty magic crowbar. He instantly gets his powers back, and then calls down magical lightning to repower the rest of the Wrecking Crew. They leave prison and invade a knock-off McDonald's named MacDonald's to get some lunch — seriously. The Wrecker wants revenge on Thor, but he also wants the world to know that he's the most powerful guy with Asgardian powers, so it has to be public. If this sounds like an ill-conceived plan, that's because it is.

The Crew starts wrecking Lincoln Center, and Thor takes them out one by one. Thunderball, the only member of the team with any sense, decides to turn tail and run after Thor easily takes care of his teammates. The Wrecker smashes a glass window and accidentally kills a woman that Thor had saved earlier, which infuriates the Thunder God. Thor overwhelms him with Mjolnir's energy until the Wrecker passes out, but not before he desperately tries to apologize.

Next gen wrecking

For a violent, murderous criminal, the Wrecker certainly has a soft spot for family. After all, the Wrecking Crew are his found family, and he's always been intensely loyal to them, even when he's butted heads with them over the years. The Wrecker's devotion to family even extends to the children of his team, as he brings two of them into the wrecking fold later in his career.

The first is Marci Camp, daughter of the original Bulldozer. When she learns that her father is apparently dead (he isn't), she magically inherits his Asgardian powers to continue the Wrecking Crew tradition of nonsensical origins. When the Wizard needs to fill out his roster for a new Frightful Four in 2014's "Fantastic Four Vol 5" #4, he turns to the Wrecker, who drafts in his frenemy Thunderball and the young Marci. With new powers and a bad attitude, she battles the Fantastic Four and is later hired by Mister Sinister to hunt for Wolverine's body in "Wolverines Vol 1" #1.

The Wrecker is slightly less excited when Piledriver brings his son Ricky Calusky, aka Excavator, to a robbery in "Runaways Vol 2" #1. Despite his initial hesitance, the Wrecker (somehow) shares his power with him, and Excavator's shovel becomes imbued with Asgardian magic. They embark on a gig that should have been easy, but the Runaways show up and outclass the surprised villains. Excavator breaks his shovel over the invulnerable Molly Hayes' head, putting an end to his career for a while. He returns as a member of the Young Masters.

Thunderball is the Black Bruce Banner

Dr. Eliot Franklin is the odd man out in the Wrecking Crew. Unlike the lunkheads Piledriver and Bulldozer, he had a meaningful career before he went into a life of crime. According to Marvel.com, he became known as "the Black Bruce Banner" because of his expertise with gamma radiation. In fact, the gifted scientist once created "a baseball-sized compact gamma bomb ten times as powerful as Banner's original device," his profile states. He made the breakthrough while working at Richmond Enterprises, but went off the rails when unscrupulous executive J.C. Pennysworth stole his notes and took credit for the invention. Franklin went solo and turned to crime to fund his experiments, eventually ending up behind bars.

When the Wrecker shares his power with Franklin after they break out, he grabs a ball-and-chain and uses it as his primary weapon. It returns to his hand just like Mjolnir does for Thor, but it's made out of ordinary metal. He leads the Wrecking Crew to find his hidden gamma bomb so they can blackmail the city, but he's stopped by the Defenders. He snaps and tries to kidnap his old girlfriend before Tony Stark captures him in 1983's "Iron Man Vol 1" #171.

Later in his career, in "Black Panther Vol 1" #167, Wakanda's King T'Challa offers Thunderball a chance at redemption. Thunderball fights at his side against the old gods of Wakanda and then helps develop a way to destroy Black Panther's arch-enemy Klaw. In 2021's "Black Panther Vol 7" #25, he became a teacher and an honored citizen of Wakanda.

Coup on Polemachus

While the Wrecking Crew's powers all tend to involve physical strength and durability, they are unusual in that the source of their powers varies. While it started with Asgardian magic, they are somehow able to tap into other forms of energy in a manner that has never been explained. Many of these power boosts are mercifully short-lived, but they still do a lot of damage, both on Earth and elsewhere.

Perhaps the best example of this is the Doomsday Man, a human-robot hybrid built from Kree technology that suddenly comes online in "Avengers Vol 3" #16. His imperative is to absorb Carol Danvers (then known as Warbird) into his body. He hires the Wrecking Crew to find her and powers them up. However, he tells them to find Ms. Marvel (her old alias) and the Wrecking Crew, not known for their detective skills, track down Monica Rambeau, the former Captain Marvel, instead. The Doomsday Man tries to kill them for their failure, but Scarlet Witch accidentally sends them to Polemachus, the home planet of the Avengers' frenemy Arkon.

When the treacherous Grand Vizier betrays Arkon, he sets up the Wrecker as the new Imperion of Polemachus. They use Monica as their new power source, and they live it up with slaves, weird lizard pets, and arena combat as entertainment. The Wrecker even wears Arkon's pointy helmet, the ultimate insult. It all comes crashing down for them when Monica and the Vision fill up their power charge too quickly and Thor is able to disperse their energy.

You name 'em, they've fought 'em

The list of heroes that the Wrecking Crew has fought is staggering and pretty weird. On the way to beat up Thor, they instead encounter Iron Fist, who brings in Captain America to help give them a walloping. They are taken to the Battleworld in "Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Vol 1" #1 and become part of Doctor Doom's shock troops. They take a hostage and wind up tangling with Thor, Code Blue, and Excalibur all at the same time.

Their magical origins make the Wrecking Crew perfect foes for supernatural heroes. They face off against Ghost Rider in "Mighty Thor Vol 1" #429, in which Loki tries to steal their Asgardian powers. When Norman Osborn besieges Asgard, the Wrecking Crew is there to help him. They've also had their dust-ups with the new Captain America, Gambit, and even a briefly-heroic Doctor Doom. Of course, they rarely come out on top — the Wrecking Crew has seen the inside of numerous jail cells over the years.

In 2004's "She-Hulk Vol 1" #6, the Wrecking Crew gets banged up in the Big House, whose inhabitants have been shrunk down by Dr. Henry Pym's shrinking gas. The Mad Thinker has a plan to get all of them out and create an army of supervillains with the Wrecking Crew as the core muscle. His plan involves his Awesome Android, but his creation turns on him, allowing the She-Hulk to defeat the tiny villains with ease before they get big. They are also mind-wiped and imprisoned in the misleadingly named Pleasant Hill, along with many other supervillains.

Joining the Hood's Gang

In 2007's "New Avengers Vol 1" #35, the magically-powered gang leader the Hood invites the Wrecking Crew to join his small army, the Hood's Gang (the Hood is not especially creative when it comes to naming things). This involves going toe-to-toe with the New Avengers (and usually losing) and fighting other villains in order to expand the Hood's turf. They fight the Enforcers, who are Mister Fear's men, for example.

While working for the Hood, they also retain their freelancer status, taking on other jobs and fighting other heroes. That includes Captain America and Spider-Man on multiple occasions, but they are also hired by the crime lord Tombstone to take on the Merc with a Mouth in "Deadpool: Suicide Kings Vol 1" #5. Deadpool lands some great verbal blows (he refers to Thunderball as "Absorbing Man meets Deion Sanders") but is savagely beaten by Piledriver and Wrecker. They bounce back with the help of some powerful knockout gas. They join up with the Hood again when Doctor Doom becomes a hero in 2017's "Infamous Iron Man Vol 1" #7. Doom gets the drop on them and defeats most of the Hood's Gang, but they later lay a trap and ransack Doom's castle.

Draft dodgers

The Wrecker and his crew don't mind working for others if the money (or chance to cause destruction) is right, but they certainly don't like being forced to serve. During the Civil War event, the Wrecking Crew is pressed into the government-controlled Thunderbolts, hunting down unregistered super-powered types. As a result, the Wrecking Crew and many other villains decide to hop the border to the north and flee to Canada, shown in detail during the short-lived 2007 "Omega Flight" series. The Wrecker views the polite Canadians as easy pickings, declaring that once they get past the border, it was going to be all "beer, banks, and broads."

They feel a call to Toronto, where they find a museum with a magical gate to the realm of the Great Beasts, the demons who plagued the Earth (and Canada in particular) in the past. In "Omega Flight" #3, the Wrecker uses his crowbar to open the gate and let the demons in. In return, the Wrecking Crew gets yet another magical glow-up. They are opposed by the new Omega Flight team, which includes Sasquatch, Talisman, US Agent, Arachne, and the new Guardian. Beta Ray Bill is also drawn to the museum, since these are the same race of demons that destroyed his people. Beta Ray Bill drives the demons back, sacrificing himself so the gate can be closed again. Once that happens, the Wrecking Crew is defeated easily and sent back to America.

Getting punished by the Punisher

If you're a supervillain, who do you bring in to take care of the most terrifying of targets? The Wrecking Crew, of course! When the Punisher's arch-enemy Jigsaw finally decides to kill Frank Castle once and for all, that's exactly what goes through his head. Jigsaw frames Frank for murder, the first step in his dastardly plan. When S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives to move the Punisher to a maximum security facility "Punisher War Journal Vol 2" #23, Jigsaw strikes, sending the Wrecking Crew to kill him.

However, Frank always has a few aces in the hole. His ally, the psychotic tech genius Stewart "Rampage" Clarke, calls in a number of favors. Fighting at Frank's side is G.W. Bridge, the stalwart S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who's been hunting Frank, in order to bring him to justice. Other agents like Domino and Silver Sable are there to fight the Wrecking Crew as well. Domino dismissively refers to them as the "Cutting Crew" as she runs over Bulldozer and Piledriver with a truck.

The Wrecker won't be taken out of the game that easily — he corners the Punisher and kneecaps Bridge. Just as he's about to kill Frank, the last of his many favors called in arrives: The Rhino, who owes the Punisher his life. He takes out much of the Wrecking Crew, including the Wrecker, allowing the Punisher to whack Thunderball across the head with the Wrecker's magical crow bar. The Punisher turns the Wrecker over to the Rhino and flushes out Jigsaw. He decides to surrender instead of killing anyone else.

Bad guys versus worse guys

When Doctor Octopus transferred his mind into Peter Parker's body and became the Superior Spider-Man, he was able to form his own team using mind control. That team is the Superior Six, consisting of former Sinister Six members Chameleon, Sandman, Electro, Mysterion, and the Vulture. When he learns about a Quantum Particle Engine with tremendous destructive properties at Alchemax, he pits his team against another group trying to steal it — our old pals, the Wrecking Crew.

For some reason, Thunderball decides to wear a ski hat on top of his costume, but other than that they look as fearsome here as they ever have. However, that doesn't stop Superior Spider-Man from mocking them. "There's Bulldozer, with the idiotic ability to crush things with his head," he says in "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Vol 1" #5. "Piledriver with the power of punching. Their leader, the Wrecker, with the power of using a crowbar. It's hard not to cower in fear. Thunderball is the smart one. You can tell from the giant metal ball."

In the following issue, the Lightmaster adds the Wrecking Crew to the new Masters of Evil roster. Ultimately, Doc Ock's hubris leads him to nearly destroy New York, but the new Masters (with the Wrecking Crew leading the way) overpower them, with Doc Ock losing control of his team. It's rare to see the Wrecking Crew trading blows with villains worse than themselves, but don't be fooled — they would have done terrible things with the engine had they gotten their grubby hands on it.