Spoilers, of course, for Avengers: Endgame and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I am an unabashed comic book nerd. I have been loving life since the original Iron Man movie in 2008, and of course I loved the original Avengers movie from 2012. I was surprised that the iconic rally cry “Avengers Assemble!” never appeared in that movie. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) teased it at the end when Captain America, with Black Widow beside him, began training the Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Vision as the new team at the new Avengers compound in upstate New York.
It wasn’t until Avengers: Endgame, the fourth Avengers movie and twenty-second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that we finally heard it. And of course, it was one of the biggest Moments of Badass in the film. (If you haven’t seen it, seriously, what’s wrong with you?)
Now here’s the thing: as a catchphrase, “Avengers Assemble”… doesn’t sound cool. How did this become the rallying cry of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?
Obviously, many people writing comics in the early 1960s had served in the military, in World War II, Korea, or as draftees between the wars or during the Cold War. Jack Kirby, the original artist of The Avengers, served in the 11th Infantry Regiment. Stan Lee served in the Army’s Training Film Division in World War II. “Assemble” or “assembly” is used extensively throughout the Army.
“Assembly Area” refers to the area you meet prior to a formation (when someone would yell “Fall In!” for the troops to assemble). The Tactical Assembly Area is where different units meet up to arrange a column or some other battle formation prior to crossing the Line of Departure (the front lines). And there’s a bugle call named “Assembly.”
I was in the Army Reserves, but I sucked at Drill and Ceremonies. Often at the final assembly at the close of business, after my First Sergeant handed the company over to me, my usual “command” was “Everyone, gather around me so I can talk to you.” Then after I finished relaying information, rather than forming them back up again and ordering “Dismissed,” I would usually say “Get out of here.” That sort of stuff would drive the Battalion Executive Officer crazy. “You have to learn D and C,” he would say. I think my Battalion Commander thought it was funny. He was a great guy, but he had a nervous tell that showed he wasn’t completely comfortable with formations either: the whole time in front of the battalion, he would clasp and unclasp his right hand.
It’s been fifteen years since I’ve been out of the service, and I just realized a mis-memory of mine. I had thought the command to form up a unit was “Assemble,” but it’s “Fall In.” It turns out that in physical training (PT), there’s a command “Assemble to the Right, March.”
So why did Stan Lee choose “Avengers Assemble” in Avengers #10 instead of “Avengers, Fall In”? (The line was uttered by Thor, surprisingly, and not Captain America.)
Perhaps Stan Lee mis-remembered his military commands as well. However, I think it’s because of his love of alliteration.
Look at the names of so many of the characters he created: Peter Parker. Bruce Banner. Reed Richards. Sue Storm. Scott Summers. Matt Murdoch. Warren Worthington. Stephen Strange. The Silver Surfer.
Even the villains: Doctor Doom. Otto Octavius. Curt Conners. The Green Goblin. Fin Fang Foom (a triple). Kang the Conquerer.
And the supporting characters: Pepper Potts. Happy Hogan. Robby Robertson. J. Jonah Jameson and Dum Dum Dugan (more triples). Betty Brant. Wyatt Wingfoot.
And teams: The Fantastic Four and their nemeses The Frightful Four. The Sinister Six.
Stan Lee loved him some alliteration. Combining that with his military experience is what I think gave us “Avengers Assemble.”