Now that we’ve all seen the Avengers at least once, and scheduling our next screening, it would be good to know a few more facts about our beloved heroes. Below is a list of a few things you may or may not have known about the Avengers history:
1. The first Avengers comic was published in September 1963 and the original lineup consisted of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, and Wasp. Captain America only joined the team in Issue #4, after being revived from being trapped in a block of ice.
Who are Ant-man and Wasp you may ask?
Created by Stan Lee, Ant-Man was originally the superhero persona of Henry Pym, a brilliant scientist who invented a substance that allowed him to change his size. Armed with a helmet that could control ants, Pym would shrink down to the size of an insect to become the mystery-solving Ant-Man. He soon shared his discovery with his girlfriend, Janet Van Dyne, who became his crime-fighting partner as the Wasp. The duo became founding members of the Avengers.
2. Like the movie, in the very first issue of the comic book The Avengers, almost 50 years ago, it was Loki, the god of mischief, who caused the trouble that brought all the Avengers together for the first time.
3. The original acronym for S.H.I.E.L.D. was Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division. Thankfully, this awkward acronym was changed in the movies to Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division.
Nicolas Cage is named after Superhero Luke Cage/Powerman from the New Avengers. The self-confessed comic geek was born Nicolas Coppola but changed his name to his favourite comic book character when he started in Hollywood.
4. Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye, started off as a villain in the comic books. Barton ran away from home and joined the circus, where he honed his archery skills. After an encounter with Iron Man, Hawkeye decided to become a superhero.
5. The original Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johannson on-screen, has had a number of relationships with well-known comic book superheroes, including Iron Man, Daredevil, Hercules and, not surprisingly, Hawkeye.
6. Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Nick Fury has a long history in the military, even fighting side by side with Wolverine during World War II.
Michael Jackson once came close to owning Marvel. According to Stan Lee’s former business partner, Peter Paul, Jackson agreed to buy Marvel on Lee’s behalf. Stan Lee tells the story differently, saying Michael was only interested in purchasing the rights to Spider-man, with the interest in perhaps starring in it himself.
7. Ever wondered why the Hulk is green and not red, the colour of anger? According to a few sources, colorist Stan Goldberg couldn’t get the shades of grey right, and the hulk appeared green instead. When Stan saw the “green” Hulk, he decided that he actually liked it.
8. Many US presidents have appeared in comic books over the years. Obama appeared on the cover of Amazing Spiderman, George W. Bush appeared with Captain America in The Ultimates and Jimmy Carter requested the aid of the Avengers in Uncanny X-men. President Franklin Roosevelt also appeared in early Captain America, handing him the famous shield he uses today. In the controversial Captain America no. 175, however, President Richard Nixon, the villain of the comic, is seen killing himself in front of Captain America.
9. Iron Man creator, Stan Lee, has openly admitted that the character was based on real life Howard Hughes, the billionaire industrialist and wacko recluse.
10. Iron Man’s computer program J.A.R.V.I.S. was actually his butler, Edwin Jarvis, in the comic books. To avoid similarities to Batman’s Alfred, Jarvis was re-invented as an A.I. programme. In Iron Man No. 127 Jarvis, the butler resigned after verbal abuse from Tony Stark.
11. In the movies, Thor’s hammer can’t be lifted by anyone but Thor himself. In the comics, however, many other heroes have held the power of Mjolnir, including Captain America, Superman, and even Loki.
12. Bruce Banner was renamed David Banner in the 80’s TV series. The show’s executive producer, Kenneth Johnson, tried separating the show from the comic books, hence the bizarre name change. The Hulk’s alter ego has gone through a few name changes over the years, including Bob Banner and Robert Bruce Banner.
13. The popular X-men character Wolverine was originally created as a punching bag for the Hulk. He was introduced in issue 180 of the Incredible Hulk as a pint-sized Canadian superhero charged with bringing down the Hulk.
14. She-Hulk was Lee’s last major creation for Marvel. The female version of Marvel’s grumpy green giant first appeared in Savage She-Hulk No 1 in February 1980. By that time Lee had retired as Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief.
Paul Simon wrote the lyrics and theme song to the Sixties Spider-man cartoon as a favour to head of the ABC network. Because he didn’t want to be associated with kiddie material, he asked that the music be credited to his old stage name, Jerry Landis.
15. Stan Lee came up with the idea of a superhero version of the Norse god Thor while wrestling with problem of how to create a character that was stronger than the Hulk. He decided that the only solution was to make his new hero a god so he went delving into Norse mythology to find a suitable candidate.