How the Avengers Were Formed

“Avengers, assemble.” It’s an easy phrase with an intricate backstory. Superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the MCU, have become part of the Avengers, or “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” as Marvel’s website says, but their ranks have changed over time. Plus, there’s the film version of the Avengers and those in comics. Keep reading to learn how the Avengers came to be. 

How the Avengers were formed in movies

In The Avengers (2012), audiences learn how the Avengers came from the mind of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. “There was an idea,” is how Fury began to explain the concept of an elite group of superheroes to Robert Downey Jr.’s character Tony Stark or Iron Man.

According to Marvel history, Fury went to Stark/Iron Man with his idea first. After the superhero defeated Obadiah Stane aka Iron Monger (Jeff Bridges) and subsequently told the public he had been living a double life as Iron Man, Fury pitched his idea to Stark/Iron Man. But the Avengers weren’t formed overnight.

Fury quietly observed the work of other superheroes who he believed had the potential to become Avengers. Bruce Banner or Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Steve Rogers or Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff or Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Clint Barton or Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), were among the superheroes Fury monitored. 

When were the Avengers first assembled? 

The Avengers first came together to defeat Loki, a threat to the planet when he arrived wielding the power of the Tesseract with his army in tow. Fury felt he had to bring together his elite superhero team and called upon Romanoff/Black Widow, Banner/Hulk, Rogers/Captain America, and Stark/Iron Man for help. 

From then on the ranks of the Avengers changed because some superheroes left the group on their own or sadly, some died. 

Avengers presentation 2019
Avengers: Endgame presentation. | Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage

As far as Marvel’s concerned, official members of the Avengers (in film) are as follows: Stark/Iron Man, Thor, Banner/Hulk, James Rhodes or War Machine, Peter Parker or Spider-Man, and Rogers/Captain America. 

For more on the Avengers in film and in comics, check out this article.

How Marvel Studios created the Avengers franchise

The Avengers film franchise began in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. During a 2012 interview with Variety, Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, told the publication the studio took a huge risk when they embarked on the massive undertaking. 

Shortly before The Avengers premiered, Feige told the publication the studio put up the movie rights to Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America as collateral to secure $525 million in financing from Merrill Lynch. 

“The assets were on the line,” Feige said adding, “It was make-or-break. If the movies hadn’t worked, something would have happened and it wouldn’t have been good.” 

Feige also said “how quickly people embraced the notion of the superhero team-up,” surprised him. He thought people would warm up to the idea over time but that didn’t happen. People loved the idea from the start. “Then the Monday after ‘Iron Man’ opened, and Sam Jackson was in the eyepatch, everyone started talking about ‘The Avengers.’”
It’s been 11 years since Iron Man premiered and we’re still talking about Avengers and there are no signs of slowing down with Phase Four in the works.