There are various different uses of the number 12 across the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

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Does it have any significance at all or is it a running gag?

  • 2
    It seems to just be a throw away joke from Joss Whedon in The Avengers/Avengers Assemble that was picked up on and reused by James Gunn in Guardians of the Galaxy. The fact that Whedon then used the same number in Avengers: Age of Ultron kind of solidifies the number as a gag now, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it show up in future films. Aug 26 '15 at 12:48
  • It's not that unique of a thing to say...
    – cde
    Sep 17 '15 at 20:39
  • 1
    @cde I understood that reference. Sep 18 '15 at 8:51
  • It's mentioned in Iron Man 3 also, when Tony asks the scientist Maya Hansen something like "please don't tell me you have a 12-year-old waiting in the car." She jokingly responds "he's 13". Not sure of the significance, but it does seem like too much to be coincidence.
    – user29317
    Dec 31 '15 at 0:32
  • it because they will be releasing the "The Twelve" comics as a film soon..
    – user29484
    Jan 4 '16 at 12:47

There is no significance, and it doesn't seem to be a running gag either.

As per this twitter conversation between a fan and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn;

"Hey @JamesGunn was Star Lord's 12% plan from GoTG a deliberate reference to Stark's 12% credit from Avengers or was it a happy coincidence?"

"No. The number 12 is often used in writing/comedy because it's the highest one syllable number."

So there is no significance to the number 12 in these films. It just so happens that the way it sounds makes it convenient to use in a joke, and both directors have.

  • +1 for finding an actual reason for the incidence of the number 12. Now I'm curious why it's used in comedy so much since it doesn't seem particularly funny. Why go for the highest monosyllabic number?
    – J Doe
    Mar 17 '17 at 18:11
  • @JDoe because one syllable word is very easy to spit out when the character is being frustrated or angry. Just like that most used curse word.
    – formicini
    Apr 22 '21 at 8:14

It was something they started in Avengers, but James Gunn kept in Guardians because he thought it was funny.

James Gunn keeps Joss Whedon’s joke going, with Star-Lord informing the rest of his team that he has a plan for the film’s third act. Well, 12% of a plan. The idea is once again ridiculous to Rocket Raccon (Bradley Cooper), with Gamora (Zoe Saldana) explaining that 12% isn’t a plan – it’s “barely a concept.”


  • do you have a source for that quote?
    – RedCaio
    May 27 '16 at 23:37
  • I wish I had though to grab the site when I made this post. Sadly, no I don't remember where that came from. May 31 '16 at 12:48

12 is just an inside joke between True Believers and die heart MCU, Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans. Its stated in Avengers by Robert Downey Jr. giving Pepper Potts "12% of the credit" Chris Pratt having "12% of a plan" and Aaron Taylor-Johnson saying he's "12 minutes older" than Wanda Maximoff.

  • 1
    Any source for your answer?
    – A J
    May 22 '17 at 3:41

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