|This article is written from the Real World perspective|
Marvel Comics is a brand name publishing company of Marvel Worldwide Inc., formerly known as Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group. Marvel and DC Comics are the two largest comic book publishers in the world. It is controlled by Marvel Entertainment and thus a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company.
Marvel created well-known properties such as heroes like Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Daredevil, Thor, Punisher, Doctor Strange, and Silver Surfer; villains such as Doctor Doom, Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom, Magneto, Galactus, and Red Skull; and others.
It was previously known as Timely Publications, Timely Comics, and Atlas Comics.
Publisher Martin Goodman originally started the company as Timely Publications in 1939. Their first comic issue, Marvel Comics #1, was released in October 1939 introducing Human Torch, Namor, and others. Later, Joe Simon teamed up with Jack Kirby to create Captain America. Goodman then hired a man named Stanley Lieber as an office assistant before Lieber began contributing to books under the name Stan Lee.
Following the end of World War II, superheroes began losing their appeal and sales dropped. The company changed its name to Atlas Comics and began to focus on stories centered on horror, westerns, humorous, adventure, giant monsters, crime, war, jungle, romance, espionage, medieval, Biblical, and sports. They attempted to revive superheroes with Human Torch, Namor, and Captain America but were unable to find renewed success. They largely survived by quickly producing works cheaply with passable quality.
In the 1960s, DC was able to revive their superhero figures. Lee's wife Joan convinced him to give superheroes a shot and he came up with The Fantastic Four with the company changing itself to Marvel. The book found success and led to the creation of other superheroes.
Marvel found its edge by portraying their superheroes as flawed and dealing with serious adult issues, in contrast to DC's approach. When the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare approached Lee about doing a story involving real-world drug use, Lee broke with the Comics Code Authority to publish it and the CCA was forced to reformat itself the following year. Marvel published the first cross-series event, titled Secret Wars. The success of the event led to it becoming a common feature in all comic publications.
In the 1990s, comic books found its way into mainstream culture with collectors paying enormous amounts for original issues, such as a character's debut. This led numerous companies to try to provide collector issues available for a limited time, in the hopes that they would be worth something later. However, the plan backfired and the comic book industry saw a major crash. As Marvel did not have a major company to fall back on, such as DC Comics, it eventually faced bankruptcy.
To combat their financial issues, Marvel sold the film and television rights to their characters to various other studios. The 2000s saw a number of films based on Marvel comics released to great success. Marvel found renewed success and eventually formed Marvel Studios to produce their own films creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion.