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The company that would later become known as Marvel Comics was founded in 1939 by a
man named Martin Goodman. Back then Marvel was known as Timely Publications and later
Timely Comics. In its first year, the company released their first comic titled Marvel Comics #1.
It was a mayor success selling hundreds of thousands of copies featuring characters
like the original Human Torch and Namor The Sub-Mariner. These two characters along with
Captain America, making his debut in 1941, would remain as Marvel's most popular heroes
throughout its early history. Early on Goodman hired a young man named Stanley Lieber who
would go on to create many of the most popular Marvel characters we know today. Of course,
you most likely know him by his pseudonym, Stan Lee. The 1960s saw the introduction of
many teams and individual superheroes, anti-heroes, and villains that would come to define what
the company is today. Some examples are The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, The Hulk, Spider-Man,
Ultron, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron-Man, X-Men, Doctor Doom, and Galactus, among so
many others. In the coming decades, Marvel had its ups and downs and struggled to survive
due in part to a very unstable market while also competing with its longtime rival DC
Comics. At the turn of the century, Marvel had some success with their live action movie
adaptations. Titles like Blade, X-Men, Spider-Man, and Hulk would serve as the early instigators
of the immensely popular and thriving superhero movie market we have today. In 2009 Marvel
Entertainment, the parent company of Marvel Comics, was acquired by The Walt Disney Company.
And with their initiative to launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe, superheroes are more popular
than ever before.
It was very close that Marvel never even came into existence. You see, in 1937 Martin Goodman
was on his honeymoon in Europe with his wife. When it was time to return to the US, Goodman
wanted to ride the exciting and marvelous Hindenburg airship. However as he was late
to buy tickets he was unable to secure two seats next to each other. So the couple took
a plane back instead. If two seats had been available, it's likely they would have perished
in the inferno of the now famous Hindenburg disaster.
In 1979, comic book artist Dave Cockrum decided to quit his job at Marvel. In the process
he also left a resignation letter explaining why he wanted to leave the company. Now, at
roughly the same time, the comic Iron Man #127 was released. In it, Tony Starks butler
Edwin Jarvis also decides to quit his job. Jarvis leaves a resignation letter as well
but it doesn't make much sense. As it turns out, someone at Marvel decided to use the
resignation letter left by Cockrum in the comic. The only difference being that they
replaced the word "Marvel" with "Avengers". Three issues later, the confusing letter was
explained as a mistake, but some think it was more of a deliberate prank. No one's really
sure how the letter ended up in the comic.
Wolverine is arguably one of the most popular members of the X-Men if not one of Marvel's
most popular characters overall. During his inception, they wanted to name him either
The Wolverine or The Badger. Luckily they choose the former. I mean, look at this thing.
It's just a cute little badger.
Now once they did, the initial idea was for Wolverine to
be an actual mutant Wolverine. This is even suggested in the comic X-Men #98, where a
scientist mentions that Wolverine is different from the rest of the mutants and doesn't even
appear to be human. Another weird thing is that in the beginning Marvel had a rule that
Wolverine could not have visible arm hair while in costume. But when not in costume,
it was completely fine.
Superman kind of exist in the Marvel universe. Well at least his alternate personality, Clark
Kent, does. In several comics published by Marvel over the years he has be seen as a
background character, even having a few lines here and there. However this isn't exactly
canon and it isn't exactly Superman. Clark Kent in this case is just a normal news reporter
and is only included as a joke and a sort of cameo. It was never intended to be taken seriously.
Something I have always wondered about is, after an epic battle taking place in some fictional
metropolis somewhere. Who's responsible for cleaning up the mess these battles often leave
behind? Turns out that Marvel has actually tried to answer that question with an organization
appropriately called Damage Control. Damage Control is a large corporation that uses advanced
engineering technology to repair anything from an entire city to the Avengers Mansion
in a very short amount of time. For example they where responsible for rebuilding New
York after the event known as World War Hulk. I mean, it's some major suspension of disbelief.
But hey, at least it's better then just "Because magic!".
In 1984, Marvel was doing extremely well. They had a market share of around 70% with
DC Comics at somewhere around 20%. In fact for many years, DC Comics had struggled financially.
So in February of that year the head of DC Comics' parent company, Warner Communications,
called the president of Marvel because he wanted to give them the publishing rights
for all of DC Comics characters. Eventually they reached an agreement and Marvel was actually
set to acquire DC Comics along with all of its characters like Superman, Batman, The
Flash, and so on. The reason this never happened was because it would have resulted in Marvel
completely dominating the industry with a staggering 90% market share. Meaning Marvel
could essentially do whatever they wanted without any sort of competition. Today Marvel
and DC are at a more equal footing with other publishers like Dark Horse and Image Comics
not to far behind.
Michael Jackson was a big fan of comics and had a whole collection of hard to find comic
book collectibles. One of his favorite characters was Spider-Man. In the 1990s, Marvel was looking
into making a live action Spider-Man movie and when Michael Jackson heard of this he
wanted to be cast as the lead character. Peter Parker himself. He wanted to do this so badly
that he even attempted to actually buy Marvel Comics just so he could make and star in this
movie. I ehm... I think we're all pretty happy that this never happened.
Aside from the more common characters that get their own movies, TV-shows, and the like.
Marvel has a lot of really weird and obscure characters as well. Some examples are The
Pet Avengers, which is exactly what it sound like. The Avengers if they where animals.
Then there's Spider-Ham, which is Spider-Man if he where a pig. And his real name is not
Peter Parker but instead Peter Porker. The Phone Ranger who is skilled at repairing phone
lines and phones. Bird-Brain, a human bird. Matador who's a matador. Leap-Frog, literally
a man in a frog costume. And then there's Eye-Scream who has the ability to turn himself
into ice cream. Why?
A large part of the X-Men storylines follow the characters struggle to be accepted as
ordinary people. How society sees them as freaks of nature and not humans. Which makes
it kind of ironic how Marvel spent years trying to make the case that X-Men figurines should
not be considered humans. They did this to avoid a certain tax rule that would have cost
them a lot more money. The rule essentially states that human looking figurines should
be defined dolls, while non human characters are defined as toys. Sorry Xavier and Co.
even your creator thinks you're less then human.