Such characters as Hulk, Iron Man and Thor are well known to the audience for many years. But most of us know nothing about the creator of these superheroes – Marvel Company. Only the biggest comics fans can tell company’s history without a single hitch. For others “Marvel” often is just a familiar name.
The American company Marvel was established over 70 years ago. Marvel created the idea of superheroes and put it into practice by inventing hundreds of fantastic stories. Over time the popularity of comics started to grow and the company decided to expand its activities by creating a series of animations based on existing plots. Later Marvel moved on to shooting big screen movies, becoming more and more famous throughout the world. At the moment Marvel Company has over 5 000 comic book characters and nearly two dozen films, not to mention the mass production of cartoons.
Although the way to the top of the publishing business was not so easy, Marvel is now one of the largest publishing houses, which represents modern comic book culture. We have gathered the most important facts and dates of the company’s history, to help you find out what is actually hidden under the name “Marvel”.
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The Marvel Company was created by Martin Goodman in 1939 as a group of subsidiaries under the name Timely Comics. Company’s first publication was “Marvel Comics #1” in October of 1939. In this issue appeared superhero Human Torch created by Carl Burgos, as well as the modern anti-hero Namor: The Sub-Mariner, a mutant created by Bill Everett. Comics became a hit, although the company did not have enough of own funds to meet all the demand and had to use the services of an outside company Funnies Inc.
Goodman hires the chief editors Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who are now responsible for a current style of the comics. By the end of the year Simon and Kirby find an assistant Stanley Lieber, but the whole world will soon know him as Stan Lee – editor in chief and main ideologue of Marvel Comics.
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America has not yet entered the World War II, but everybody feel the inevitability of it. At this time the company’s chief editor, writer and artist Joe Simon teams up with the legend of comic book industry Jack Kirby to create the first national superhero – Captain America. Captain debuted in the comic book Captain America Comics # 1 in March 1941 and became a major sales hit.
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In this year comes out the first film adaptation of Marvel comic book – “Captain America”. The film is about criminals, who are led by a villain called Scarab. They kill enemies with the help of mysterious poison and steal a secret device, which is able to destroy buildings with sound vibrations. Captain America stands on their way starting a fight for life and death. The series are shown in the movies right after the frontline chronicle.
Looking on DC Comics reviving superheroes in the late 50s and early 60s, Marvel decided to do the same. Editor and writer Stan Lee in collaboration with artist Jack Kirby created the Fantastic Four. Contrary to stereotypes of the genre heroes did not live a double life, and at first did not even wear costumes. They experience daily life struggles, which later was called “superheroes in the real world” approach.
On this wave of success Marvel created other comics superheroes, such as the Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man and X-Men, as well as such memorable villains as Doctor Doom, Magneto, Galactus, Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. However the most commercially successful comic book was “The Amazing Spider-Man” created by Lee and Ditko.
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Jack Kirby leaves Marvel for a competing DC Comics. Stan Lee no longer writes stories and gets promoted to a publisher. This marks the end of the “Silver Age of Comic Books” (1956-1970).
Wolverine makes his debut as a minor character The Incredible Hulk #180. Captain America is disappointed in life, he throws his shield and becomes a Nomad.
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Jim Shooter becomes a chief editor of “Marvel Comics” and brings rapidly growing direct market to the company. He establishes authorship royalties for comics’ creators and starts to print “Epic Comics” in 1982. But despite the success Marlin publishing house loses ground to DC in the second half of the decade, after a few former stars of Marvel changed sides.
In 1989 Reagan publicly acknowledged that he reads the newspaper strip about Spider-Man first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, Marvel goes to billionaire Ronald Perelman.
Marvel and DC comics are doing an amazing thing: they release two series comics where the characters of both competing universes are fighting among each other.
Marvel establishes Marvel Studios, which is fully focused on the film industry. However the copyrights to the film versions of some characters (for instance Spider-man and X-Men) still belong to other studios.
“The Walt Disney Company” announces about the purchase of “Marvel” in late August. The deal took place in late December with the price of 4.24 billion dollars.
Marvel launched so-called “Phase Two” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Phase Two” introduces to the audience such films as “Iron Man 3”, “Thor: The Dark World”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ant-Man”.
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Marvel announces about publishing “Star wars” again after a nearly twenty-year break.
Here comes the “Phase Three” of the Marvel cinematic Universe that will continue up to the 2019. However the box office has already exceeded 1.8 billion dollars. Phase Three brought to us “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) and “Doctor Strange” (2016). At the same time Marvel has confirmed release of such films as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017), “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017), “Thor: Ragnarok (2017)”, “Black Panther” (2018), “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018), “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (2018) and other.
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