In the Avengers (2012), Tony Stark aka Iron Man announces on control deck of S.H.I.E.L.D's flying base "That man is playing Galaga!" source.

After the scene finishes the bits and pieces related to the plot, the camera turns to this operator who sneakily changes his work station back to Galaga and starts playing again.

What is the reason there was a reference to this old arcade game and why was it included in the movie? I.e. why was Galaga referenced and not some other famous arcade game?

  • If you can find that source of Joss mentioning that, add it in an answer :)
    – Jared
    Jan 20, 2014 at 20:26
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    @jared - tor.com/blogs/2012/09/…
    – JohnP
    Jan 20, 2014 at 20:31
  • Thats interesting, sounds like the joke with Tony was a deliberate reference but only the operator scene was added post-production. Question still stands.
    – Jared
    Jan 20, 2014 at 20:34
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    You just made me spend a part of today playing Space Invaders. And yes, they have Galaga as well. Jan 20, 2014 at 21:40
  • Some consonants sound "funnier" than others in English. Many people say that words starting with p, b, t, d, k, and g are funnier than others. There are similar rules of thumb for how words end. Anyway, "Galaga" sounds funnier than "Space Invaders" or "Ms Pac Man". Jan 13, 2015 at 22:13

3 Answers 3


I don't know if there is a reason for that specific choice, but on the commentary Joss said they added the joke "after the fact" because the computer operator just looked "shifty" and Joss wanted to know what he was up to. So they added that bit. It wasn't scripted, it was decided on the day. This might not really answer the question, but seeing as it was unscripted, there probably is no "real" reason; they just picked a game.

I cannot link to the DVD/Bluray commentary (for obvious reasons) but this page reveals highlights from it. The Galaga bit is the second to last thing mentioned if you scroll down.

I suppose a case could be made that the aliens falling from the sky in the battle in New York looks similar to the ships coming down in Galaga. Seems like a stretch, though.

  • 2
    I read, right after the movie came out, that Downey improvised the joke. I can not find a citation now. Maybe it was false info that has since been rescinded. Jan 21, 2014 at 15:26
  • I would also question the licensing availability or whatever trade deals they might have had at the time.....they might have wanted to say another game...but only had blessing for that one. Sep 10, 2019 at 20:03

The Chitauri mothership is actually designed after the blue battleships in Galaga.

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  • 11
    That seems like a pretty big stretch, do you have any real evidence to back that up?
    – onewho
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:24
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    The reference itself, the color scheme, the synopsis of Galaga, an alien invasion in which aliens attack in swarms - with movements characteristically similar to the "fall of Chitauri". As mentioned, the choice is specific. Why did Joss Whedon care to introduce this as a joke inside an otherwise finely crafted movie? Why does it stand out? Jul 17, 2015 at 3:49
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    The attackers in Galaga aren't "ships", they are moths, butterflies, and bees respectively. (In the actual game the sprites are animated to add wing movement.) So I agree with onewho, that's a big stretch.
    – DevSolar
    Dec 7, 2016 at 13:39

So I think the reference is actually kind of foreshadowing the final battle. When all the aliens come swooping down towards the eartg. Especially when the Chitari for start coming through the portal, there's a wide shot that remarkably reminiscent of a certain arcade game.

  • 10
    Yes... that's exactly what the answer above yours from last year says.
    – cde
    Jul 15, 2016 at 1:29
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    Welcome to the site. when posting answers, try to either to say something new or better that a pre-existing answer. :) for more, see tour and help center :)
    – RedCaio
    Jul 15, 2016 at 22:47

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