Marvel Comics was founded in 1939 as Timely Comics before becoming Atlas Comics in the 1950s and eventually the company we know and love in the 1960s. This was the era when Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and the omnipresent Stan Lee created the characters that have grown far beyond their humble beginnings as mere ink drawings.
Marvel Comics is now part of the larger Marvel Entertainment, which in turn is part of The Walt Disney Company after Mickey Mouse and Co. acquired the Marvel empire lock, stock, and barrel for $4.24 billion in 2009. There are a host of big-name Marvel characters, with the biggest arguably being Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Iron Man, mainly thanks to the smash-hit movies bringing these particular characters to a wider, mainstream audience.
So, you’ve seen the latest Marvel movie and now want to learn more about the whole Marvel universe. The following are the first places you should head online to achieve that goal.
The official Marvel website is, as you would expect it to be, crammed full of all things Marvel. It’s an endless cornucopia packed with news related to the comic books, the movies, the games, and the TV shows. This isn’t the place to come for speculation and rumors; if it has made it onto Marvel.com then it’s official, real, and happening.
There are also links to digital versions of the comics, and the chance to create your own comic and/or superhero.
The Marvel page on Facebook may not be as well-kept as MakeUseOf’s (naturally) but it’s updated multiple times every day with interesting content that encourages fan interaction. There are links to other Marvel properties across the Web, updates on forthcoming projects across all media, and discussions running to hundreds of comments.
Marvel has also made good use of the controversial timeline with historical updates all the way back to 1939.
The Marvel account on Twitter is an essential to follow for all Marvel fans keen to read dozens of tweets a day. Thankfully the tweets in question are always interesting, with quotes from live blogging events, simple questions prompting fascinating responses, and the ubiquitous news updates.
This is the one of all the Web properties listed here that will appeal to the hardcore fans more than the casual, part-time fans who dip in and out when a new movie is released.
At the time of writing the Marvel channel on YouTube has more than 364,000 subscribers and the videos have racked up 341 million views. That says a lot for the quality of content posted. There are already in excess of 1,200 videos posted on the channel, with more added every week.
The content ranges from Blu-ray clips of the movies, extended clips of the television shows, and trailers for forthcoming games. And Stan Lee pops up from time to time!
And now we come to the unofficial Web resources for Marvel Comics and Marvel characters. The best by far is Marvel Database, the Wiki site which manages to pack almost 100,000 pages of content under its unassuming front page.
My favorite link to click on any Wiki is ‘Random Page’, but if you prefer to end up on a page you actually want to visit then the Marvel Database contains all you’ll ever need to know about the comics and characters.
Spider-Man is perhaps the greatest Marvel character of all time. He’s certainly the one with the biggest appeal across all demographics. Perhaps it’s the Lycra suit, perhaps it’s the compelling origin story, or perhaps it’s because we all hate spiders so much that a superhero with the powers of one of the critters is a guilty pleasure.
Whatever the ultimate reason for his popularity, SpiderFan.org is the best Spider-Man fansite I could find.
The X-Men are a group of mutants – literally mutated humans – who come together as a group under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier. The best-known X-Men are Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, and Cyclops, who all battle together against good-guy-turned-bad-guy Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants.
UncannyXMen.net is a magnificent fansite with the tagline, “For the fans, by the fans.” And that’s a pretty much perfect description.
Unlike Spider-Man the appeal of Iron Man is clear and obvious for all to see. Which of us wouldn’t want to don a metal suit and fly around the world impervious to attack from anything but a nuclear bomb? Iron Man is like Batman on acid; why mess about simulating a winged creature when you could be a walking, talking robot? IronManArmory.com is a great fansite dedicated wholly to the cult of Tony Stark and his metallic alter-ego.
Are there any other locations on the Web you’d recommend for people just starting out exploring Marvel Comics and the characters that populate the Marvel universe? Are you a big comic-book fan or did you not even know the difference between Captain America and Thor before the movies started hitting the big-screen?
As always we’d love to hear your views on the subject at hand in the comments section below.