The Wrecking Crew were formed when Dirk Garthwaite (Wrecker) was approached by Dr. Elliot Franklin with the task of retrieving a gamma bomb Elliot (Thunderball) had designed, with the intent of ransoming New York for millions of dollars. Dirk manages to retrieve his enchanted crowbar, and during a lightning storm he tells Elliot and his fellow prisoners Henry Camp (Bulldozer) and Brian Calusky (Piledriver) to grip the crowbar simultaneously. A lightning bolt strikes the bar, thus transforming the group into the Wrecking Crew. They promptly escape from prison and in the course of searching for the gamma bomb are defeated by the Defenders and Luke Cage.
The Wrecking Crew was created by Len Wein and Sal Buscema in November 1974. They first appeared in Defenders vol.1 #17
Over the years the Crew have had a very familiar cycle - break out of jail, fight enemies, are defeated, then thrown back into jail. The Crew have fought Captain America, Iron Fist, Namor, Spider-Man, the Thing, and their greatest foe Thor.
In their first encounter with Thor they are sure of victory but he defeats them as well as every time they come into conflict. At one point Wrecker becomes injured by Thor after killing an innocent bystander. As a result of this, Thunderball takes the crowbar and is made the leader of the crew for a short time before being defeated by Spider-Man.
Major Story Arcs
The Wrecking Crew were chosen by the Beyonder to battle a group of heroes during his Secret Wars. The Wrecking Crew's most despicable act was when they nearly killed Hercules during an attack on the Avengers Mansion led by the Masters Of Evil. With Thor's assistance, Hercules eventually confronts the Wrecking Crew and defeats them, restoring confidence in himself.
During the Civil War incident, the Wrecking Crew are forced to join another team, the Thunderbolts, or face additional jail time. This is ironic since most of the Thunderbolts are reformed villains, but the Wrecking Crew have yet to be reformed.
During The initiative, Wrecker and his crew are hired by Jigsaw in order to kill Frank Castle as he is transfered to the Raft by G.W.Bridge. They are supposed to get 50.000.000$ if they kill the Punisher. Eventually, they are defeated by Castle who receives the help of the Rhino sent by Clarke. The Punisher uses Wrecker's crowbar in order to finish off Thunderball.
All the members (except Excavator) have joined the Hood's Gang. They have fought the Skrulls during Secret Invasion and the New Avengers in the Dark Reign story arcs.
In Other Media
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
The Wrecking Crew appears in several episodes of the series most notably in "Thor the Mighty," where they are manipulated by Loki in the guise of The Leader to attack a dock containing a shipment of gamma-radiated weapons before being stopped by Thor. It is revealed that Loki hired the Wrecking Crew as a diversion so that the Frost Giants could invade Asgard without Thor intervening on Odin's behalf.
The Crew later reappears in the two-part episode "Gamma World," this time working for the real Leader, who uses gamma radiation to increase their powers, allowing them to defeat both Thor and Doc Samson. They are once again defeated by the Avengers and are then taken away by S.H.I.E.L.D before Leader initiates the second gamma wave. They apparently escape after Hulk, Hawkeye and Thor defeat Leader in "Gamma World Part II".
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
The Wrecking Crew members are bosses in the Asgard level of the game. All four villains attack the heroes at once.