We're all desperately waiting to see the Marvel Universe come together on screen in The Avengers on May 4, 2012 (assuming the date doesn't shift, that is). But it turns out the creation of that supergroup was an accident, brought about by an impending deadline and an artist with a drinking problem.
Tom Brevoort, currently Marvel's senior vice president of publishing, has been answering fan questions over on formspring, and he recently revealed that the whole reason an Avengers comic had to be created was because Daredevil #1 was late.
According to Brevoort:
Bill Everett, with whom Stan co-created Daredevil, had both a day job and a drinking problem. And so production on Daredevil #1 fell way behind. In those days, you booked print time way ahead of time--and if your book wasn't ready, you paid for the printing time anyway. So it was vital to get something to press on time. But Bill Everett was a favorite of Martin Goodman, stemming back to the 40s when he created the Sub-Mariner. Regardless, there was suddenly a hole in the schedule, with no book where a book should be. In trying to solve this problem, Stan hit on the notion of doing a strip that brought all of the heroes together JLA-style--that would be a book that wouldn't require any ramp-up time, because the characters (and even the villain) all existed already. So he and Jack Kirby brainstormed the first issue, Kirby drew it up hastily, Dick Ayers inked it in what looks like no time flat, and it came out the same month as X-Men #1.
So—no crushing deadline, no Avengers. Who knew?
(via Bleeding Cool)