While I’m a pretty big superhero buff, I’m going to approach this post as if you, humble reader, have never read a comic book in your life. Likewise, you’ll forgive me for my lack of specifics because, as a non-comic-book reader, you couldn’t give two shits when Hal Jordan became Green Lantern, or anything like that.
Anyway, back decades ago, the Powers That Be at Marvel Comics decided to band a bunch of their characters together into a super-group of ass-kickers capable of handling problems they couldn’t tackle on their own (like how to sell more comic books). The editors threw together Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, and a couple more heroes you couldn’t give a damn about because they suck. Together, they formed The Avengers, the greatest super-team the world had ever known!
Unless you count these guys.
Or these guys.
And maybe these guys.
Oh, and these guys.
But, anyway – The Avengers! These guys would run out into battle, all “HULK SMASH!” and “Have at thee, vile fiend!” and “Honey, stop hitting me!” and “You know you like it, Jan!” and “Hank, cut thaaa shhit ou-BLLARGGH!” And the combination of nonsensical Shakespearean English, drunken vomiting and spousal abuse would usually be enough to make the guys run away. Or maybe it was the nine-foot-tall green guy smashing everything in his fucking path.
But after a while, the Avengers realized the Hulk wasn’t really a team player, so they shot his ass off to another planet. Oh, wait. That was later.
But no sooner had they ditched the Hulk when – say, what’s this hidden in this giant chunk of – HOLY FUCK, IT’S CAPTAIN AMERICA!
Yes, Captain America suddenly showed up out of nowhere to save the Avengers from cultural irrelevance! They thawed old Steve Rogers out of that block, no worse for wear after twenty years freezing his ass off. And while it was apparent that Steve’s steroid-enhanced muscles couldn’t compare to the Hulk’s gamma-irradiated beefcake, Cap did have the advantage of being smarter than your average three-year-old, which ultimately ended up being a boon for the team.
There was just one problem. Without the Hulk, how would they strike fear into their enemies before engaging in battle? They looked ridiculous. Iron Man back in those days looked like a red-and-gold beer keg, and he was the most intimidating of the bunch. Ant-Man wore a bucket on his head. The Wasp was an inch tall, and the other two members of the team had head wings, for God’s sake.
No, it was obvious they’d need something else to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies. So at some point, one of them probably suggested some sort of war cry. It wasn’t a bad idea – after all, for thousands of years, foolish-looking warriors have charged into battle with a brazen shriek.
So what did they come up with?
And with that, the dumbest battle cry in the history of the universe – fictional or not – was born.
Let’s just start by looking at how stupid it is from a literal standpoint. Now, every time I’ve ever seen the team shout this, they’re already assembled. They’re all standing beside one another, ready to open a can of whup-ass. How much more assembled can you get than that? Are they supposed to climb on top of one another to form some sort of awkward Avenger version of Voltron? Do they link hands and run at the criminals in a long chain, like some Bizarro form of red rover? Or do they just try and get really, really close together so that there’s no space for anyone to sneak between them?
Of course, I’d be willing to forgive the lack of logic if it sounded cool. I mean, the rebel yell is pretty badass, and that’s just a bunch of drunken Southerners yelling at the top of their inebriated lungs. But it even sounds stupid. “Avengers Assemble?” How is that supposed to intimidate anyone? You think that’s gonna scare Ultron, guys? He’s a robot – he was assembled! That’s like yelling “Avengers Impregnate!” at a human!
(Actually, I think most people would probably turn and run like hell if they heard that.)
And if there was no other alliterative word to go with “Avengers,” I could deal. But there are so many other opportunities, it’s not even funny.
There. I thought of those in thirty seconds. You wanna tell me Stan Lee couldn’t open up a thesaurus? Couldn’t call down the hall and say, “Hey Kirby, what’s a badass word that starts with ‘A’?”
And besides, what are they avenging? I don’t recall them being particularly worked over. They live in a mansion on Fifth Avenue, they all have super-powers, and they all seem to be pretty good at saving their own asses. If Tony Stark were avenging the jagoffs who nearly killed him in ‘Nam, he should be over in Southeast Asia, not sipping martinis on the Upper East Side. Steve Rogers is apparently immortal, and his side won World War II! What’s he avenging, Sinatra’s fading career? Thor is a god, for Chrissakes! Is he pissed we only named one day out of seven after him? The only ones in that crew who seem like they might do any avenging are Ant-Man and the Wasp, and they’d be kicking the crap out of each other!
You wanna see an Avenger? Check out this guy! His parents got shot by a mugger, and as a result, he’s dedicated every day of his life to fighting crime and trying to find vengeance! That’s a goddamn Avenger!
Yet somehow, this annoying catchphrase managed to catch on. Thankfully, though, it never seemed to catch on beyond the geeky world of comic book nerds. Sadly, I fear that with 2011’s upcoming movie, we’ll soon be subjected to an all-out media assault of assembling Avengers. Well, all I can do is hope to spread the word.