Did The Avengers rip off The Avengers?

Somebody mentioned in passing in another thread that The Avengers (the American superhero group) ripped off the name of The Avengers (the British television series). Is this true? Or, if not provably true, is it a long-standing belief?

The timing could work. The television series began in January 1961. The first issue of the comic book was published in September 1963.

But was the television series popular enough in 1963 that Stan Lee would have bothered stealing the name for his new comic book series? (Although I can accept the fact that Lee wasn’t above “borrowing” somebody else’s idea. The concept of the Avengers was basically ripping off the Justice League of America. And the X-Men are suspiciously similar to the Doom Patrol and Captain America was a revived forties character just like the Flash and Green Lantern had been.)

The Avengers wasn’t shown in the U.S. until 1966. If Stan Lee ripped off the title, it would have been because it wasn’t known on this side of the Atlantic.

Avenger is a word which goes back at least hundreds of years.

I find it unlikely that Stan would have ripped off the name and nothing else.

Romanov seems like a ripoff of Peel, and I guess there’s some similarity between John Steed and Nick Fury but I can’t seem to remember anyone resembling an angry green giant or a living god in the original

The Avengers didn’t show on American TV until March 28, 1966. Things sometimes happen purely by coincidence. Consider the American and British comics called Dennis the Menace. The first of the American strips was published in newspapers the same day as the first of the British comic books hit the news stands. There’s no connection between the two of them:

Right. What would the point have been?

I vaguely recall the group’s origin story: Several Marvel superheroes find themselves working together on the same adventure by happenstance, and, after the bad guys are defeated, somebody brings up the idea of working together regularly, and another says, “All we need is a cool name, like ‘The Avengers,’ or–”, and another says, "Or nothing! ‘The Avengers’ is it!"

And I’m guessing Lee came up with the name pretty much the same way.

There was also a pulp hero (ala the Shadow and Doc Savage) called The Avenger, published circa 1939-1942, and Stan would most certainly have known of him.

The fact that they were published the same week reinforces the idea that this was a genuine coincidence.

But when some work becomes popular and a similar work appears a year later, coincidence is no longer the most plausible explanation.

Wiki sez Natasha made her comics debut in '64 – and that Diana Rigg didn’t show up as Emma Peel until '65.

The Avengers and The Avengers are not similar.


She looked nothing like the leather catsuit wearing character you’re probably familiar with when she first appeared. It’s possible that the new look was inspired by Peel (though the creator of that look says he was inspired by an older super-heroing called Miss Fury - link), but certainly the character wasn’t at the beginning.

Pretty sure in this case, coincidence is still the most plausible explanation.

The use of humanoids is clearly derivative.

Probably true. The fact that the television series wasn’t being broadcast in America in 1963 is good evidence of this.

I dunno. The spelling’s pretty close.

Once again, let me repeat what I wrote in the OP. I’m not claiming the comic book imitated the concept of the television series. I’m just asking if they imitated the title.

Marvel started a supergroup called The Defenders in 1971. There was an American television series called The Defenders starting in 1961. Marvel started a supergroup called The Invaders in 1969. There was an American television series called The Invaders starting in 1967. Marvel started a supergroup called The Champions in 1975. There was a British television series called The Champions starting in 1968. Marvel started a supergroup called The Runaways in 2003. There was a movie called The Runaways in 2010. Marvel started a supergroup called The Strangers in 1993. There was a movie called The Strangers in 2008.

And if you’re going to be picky about original dates, what happens when you throw in the British movie called The Avengers? It was made in 1942.

Were all of these rip-offs? Does this mean that Marvel is just as much the victim as a taker? Or are there just a limited number of good group names to choose from? Titles get repeated every day. I just went to IMDb. Why don’t you go to Amazon and look up all the books with titles that include the Defenders, or Champions, or Strangers, or Invaders, or Runaways? Are they all imitations? There’s a Revengers movie and a Revengers supergroup, too. You know what there isn’t? A Going After People to Right Wrongs movie or group. It would be original, though.

I prefer “Gang of Vigilantes with Highly Unusual Physical and/or Mental Abilities and/or Equipment and Angsty Personal Problems.”

And of course we’re all familiar with the ancient Norwegian folk song “Giant Size Man Thing”.