Marvel is one of the biggest names in comic books, and over a seventy-seven year history, they’ve gone from a minor publisher to a household name. Marvel has definitely had some ups and downs along the way, before reaching powerhouse status today with comics, movies, TV series and vast amounts of merchandise.
Here are madcap facts about the world’s most famous comics publisher.
1 Marvel Helped Create the Transformers Universe
Marvel aren’t just responsible for your love of Spider-Man and Wolverine—they also developed the Transformer names Optimus Prime and Megatron.
Toy manufacturer Hasbro approached then Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter and writers Denny O’Neil and Bob Budiansky in the 1980s. Hasbro had bought the robots that disguised themselves as cars and planes from Japanese company Takara and needed to repackage them. O’Neil came up with Optimus Prime and Budiansky created Megatron, while Jim Shooter developed an eight page treatment that chartered the relationship between the Decepticons and the Autobots, explained their back-story, and gave a brief breakdown of several robot’s personality traits and moral alignments.
2 Mark Ruffalo's Hulk Was the First Big-Screen Hulk Created by Motion Capture
Mark Ruffalo's performance as the Hulk in The Avengers was the first time the Hulk role was portrayed via motion capture. On the TV show, two different actors (Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno) played Banner and Hulk, respectively. In the big-screen versions, The Hulk and The Incredible Hulk, the green guy was key-frame animated. The CGI Hulk body in The Avengers was modeled after bodybuilder Steve Romm, while the Hulk's face was modeled after Ruffalo
3 Joss Whedon Didn't Like Iron Man's Tinkerbell Pose
Director Joss Whedon reportedly didn't like Iron Man's "Tinkerbell" pose from the previous movies, so he insisted that his suit come equipped with a jet pack in The Avengers. This allowed Iron Man's hands to move freely and to strike some fun cowboy poses.
4 The Monitors on the Helicarrier Bridge Were Supposed to Resemble a S.H.I.E.L.D. Logo
According to Joss Whedon, the monitors on the bridge of the Helicarrier bridge were supposed be arranged in a way to resemble the wings of the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo. The eagle head can be seen at the foot of the conference round table toward the end of the film when repairs are being done.
5 Real Military Police Were Used in the Attack of New York City
In a movie that relies on a ton of CGI, any addition that can add a sense of realism is welcome. That is probably why the crew hired 25 members of the Ohio-based 391st military police force battalion for the attack on New York City.
6 Samuel L. Jackson Is the Second Actor to Play the Same Comic Superhero in Five Movies
Samuel L. Jackson, who plays S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Nick Fury, is the second actor to play the same comic superhero in five movies. Who got there first? Hugh Jackman set the record first by playing Wolverine in all the X-Men movies and the Wolverine solo flicks.
7 Hawkeye Had a Detailed Backstory
Joss Whedon had a detailed backstory for Hawkeye, but none of it was able to be referenced due to time constraints. During the early planning stages, Hawkeye was envisioned as a circus performer trained by supervillains who manipulated him into fighting the team.
8 Ant-Man Was Supposed to Be in The Avengers
Originally, Ant-Man was supposed to appear in The Avengers, but director Joss Whedon said he was cut from the script because there were too many characters. Ant-Man finally crawled into theaters on July 17, 2015.
9 Stark Tower Stands Where the MetLife Building Should Be
The Stark Tower stands where the MetLife Building is located in New York City. The bottom third of Stark Tower retains the shape of the MetLife Building, but the rest of the floors have been digitally redesigned.
10 Hulk Actors Mark Ruffalo and Edward Norton Are Buds
Edward Norton was originally supposed to reprise his role as Bruce Banner in The Avengers, but negotiations between him and Marvel Studios broke down. Ruffalo said it was an honor to take over the role from his friend. "Ed has bequeathed this part to me," said Ruffalo. "I look at it as my generation's Hamlet."
11 wanted the Hulk to turn grey
Marvel originally wanted the Hulk to turn grey under the spell of Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Unfortunately, this idea was scrapped in post-production.
12 SPIDER-MAN’S BLACK SUIT COST HOW MUCH?
Of all the superhero costumes in Marvel’s history, perhaps none are as recognizable and well-regarded as Spider-Man’s black suit. Representing a turning point for the wall-crawler towards a darker and more nuanced arc, Spider-Man’s black suit – caused by the alien symbiote that would go on to create Spider-Man’s most well-known villain Venom – was a huge success for Spider-Man and Marvel as a whole.
As it turns out, the great idea didn’t come from Stan Lee, any of the various writers or artists of Spider-Man over the years, or even anyone at Marvel; it came from a fan. While Marvel eventually latched onto the idea and offered the fan, Randy Schueller, $220 and a chance to write the story himself, Schueller’s version of the story didn’t quite work out, and Marvel ended up taking the black suit idea and running with their own version. With numerous appearances in the comics over the years and the spawning of multiple storylines and characters – including a big spot in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, it’s safe to say that the idea of the black suit was a good one; and certainly worth all $220 Marvel paid for it.
13 MARVEL WAS THE JOKE OF THE MOVIE WORLD?
It may now look like Marvel Studios knows exactly what they’re doing in the movie world, with every film they release being a massive critical and commercial hit, but it wasn’t always like that. In the days before X-Men, Marvel – and the studios that owned the rights to their characters – had no idea how to make a great superhero movie, and were often scrambling to film anything just to retain those rights.
While Roger Corman’s unreleased 1994 version of The Fantastic Four may be the most well-known Marvel flub (although we’ll never know if the three Fantastic Four films that came after it were any better), it was far from their first. In 1944, Captain America was released as a serial film in 15 chapters; a cinematic fact that you’d be forgiven for not knowing considering how not one person mentions this film ever. Marvel followed Captain America up with 1986’s infamous Howard the Duck, a strange comedy film produced by George Lucas that is often cited as the biggest punchline in film history.
Not to be outdone by 1989’s The Punisher, a direct-to-video film that we didn’t even know existed until we looked it up just now, Marvel shouldn’t be looked at as the flawless movie experts they’re seen as now, but rather as a company that made massive mistakes, quit for a while, and eventually came back better than ever.
14 MARVEL: CREATOR OF HEROES… FILER OF BANKRUPTCY?
Sure, Marvel is one of the most successful entertainment companies on the planet right now, but as early as two decades ago success was a more ridiculous concept than that of Paul Rudd playing a man who can shrink down to the size of an ant with the help of Gordon Gekko. In the early 1990s, Marvel was benefiting from a comic book golden age – brought upon by collectors who were starting to see riches materialize from their parents’ comic book collections from the 1960s and 70s. With sales of Spider-Man and X-Men soaring, many worried that the comic book bubble would burst; and that’s exactly what happened.
From 1993 to 1996 Marvel’s stock plummeted from over $35 a share to around $2. No one was buying comics anymore, and other revenue streams were drying up. Marvel’s solution was to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, a prospect that left Marvel so strapped for cash that they resorted to selling their own filing cabinets for money. Eventually, Marvel merged with Toy Biz and pulled out of their money problems by turning their attention to movies; and the rest is history.
15 MARVEL: ENEMY OF ITS CREATOR?
When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby co-created the most recognizable superheroes in the world, no one had any idea just how big these characters would get. As a result, the two Kings of Comics invented Captain America, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, and X-Men while working as employees of Marvel Comics, and thus it was claimed that they had no rights to these characters. When the characters started taking off and eventually became worth untold billions of dollars, Lee and Kirby wanted their fair share; but Marvel didn’t want to pay.
The result was bitter legal battles lasting years between the creators and those in charge at Marvel. While at one point a new Marvel CEO screwed Stan Lee out of everything he had negotiated with Marvel over the years, eventually Lee worked something out and is now involved – in some capacity – with Marvel and the characters he created.
Kirby’s arrangement with Marvel, however, wasn’t resolved so easily. As Kirby died in 1994, his family and estate ended up fighting Marvel for years, going back and forth through various courts, unable to come to a resolution. As of just last year, their battle was set to go to the Supreme Court, until days before Marvel and Kirby’s family reached an undisclosed settlement, with Marvel releasing a statement acknowledging Kirby’s immense contribution to the history of Marvel and the characters he helped create.
16 Michael Jackson almost bought Marvel to play Spider-Man
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like if the late pop legend, Michael Jackson had played Marvel’s Spider-Man in a movie? We can’t blame you if you haven’t, but back in the ’90s when Marvel was mired in financial hardship, comic book sales were experiencing a downturn, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still only a glimmer in Kevin Feige’s eye, that nearly happened.
As talks of a Spider-Man film with James Cameron began to swirl in the mid-’90s, Jackson was apparently so high on wanting to play Spider-Man that he considered purchasing Marvel Comics entirely — something that would essentially give him the green light to do whatever he wanted with the superhero. Stan Lee of Marvel explained Jackson’s relationship to the studio:
Michael and I had met a number of times […] He wanted to do Spider-Man. I’m not sure whether he just wanted to produce it or wanted to play the role. He thought I’d be the one who could get him the rights to make a Spider-Man movie, and I told him I couldn’t. He would have to go to the Marvel company.
It got to the point that Lee and Jackson were aligned and Jackson was hiring a financial firm to set up the deal, but it fell apart when bad blood caused Marvel to push the company past its worth (at the time). Another additional weird side note: Jackson had apparently pushed hard to be cast as Professor Xavier in Bryan Singer’s first X-Men film. Imagine that.