The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is quite simply a juggernaut in the world of entertainment media. As far as superhero films go, Marvel pretty much created the genre, with superheroes such as Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor mainstay inspirations to countless fans across the world.
Over the years, these very creations have been adapted into blockbuster movies spawned from the famous comic books that took American by storm in the 20th century. And because of this in-built fandom from comic book culture, audiences already know and love the characters we now see gracing our screens.
So in recognition of the incredible popularity of MCU, we've delved into the archives and come up with 30 cool Marvel facts that you can geek out hard to.
1. A story is born
It is a common misbelief that Captain America was the first Marvel hero when in actuality Marvel’s first hero in Marvel #1 back in 1939 was The Human Torch.
For those not in the know, the character was an android that could control fire and proved so successful with readers that it sold 800,000 copies. It wasn't until 1941 that Captain America was born. That would go onto sell 1m copies.
2. Marvel & DC almost merged together
This is pretty crazy but there was a time when DC was just another ailing media company whose comic books weren't selling. Word soon got out to Jim Shooter, Marvel’s editor-in-chief who was invited to purchase the company.
However, he turned down the opportunity as he believed the characters weren't very good. From that moment on a fierce rivalry ensued and fans of both sides continue to debate the merits of both Marvel and DC characters.
3. Melissa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr's romantic past
Anyone who breaks up with a romantic partner probably wouldn't want to work with them again but for Hollywood actors Melissa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr, this professional reunion seemed to pose no problem at all.
Aunt May and Tony had met and fallen in love on the set of 1994 film Only You but Downey and Tomei seemed to have had no bad blood as the actor recommended Tomei to producers.
4. Is Black Panther really the world's richest superhero?
Black Panther has a net worth somewhere in the trillions which would make T’Challa wealthier than most of the world's nation's GDPs. However, there's one superhero whose wealth surpasses even T'Chala's!
In a ranking of Marvel's richest superheroes compiled by Tell Tales, Thor was named the richest. As the author asked, Where did all that gold come from?
5. Wasp almost made the Avengers roster
In the earlier drafts of the Marvel mishmash franchise, Henry Pym’s wife Janet van Dyne was set to appear as the Wasp which seemed reasonable as she was one of the original Avengers alongside Hulk, Thor and Iron Man.
However, the role was instead given to Black Widow as Wasp had already been a mainstay character in the Iron Man movies.
6. Black Widow's real age
It's almost impossible to decipher from the movies how old the kick-ass KGB agent Natasha Romanov is. But if you read the comics, her storyline chronicles various medical procedures that allowed her near-immortality.
From this storyline, it's not too out-there to assume that Natasha is much older than she appears! In one of the comics, she was revealed to be around 70-years-old!
7. The origins of the much-loved line, "He's a friend from work"
When Hulk bursts into the arena, Thor shouts at the confused crowd, “He’s a friend from work!” The amusing line sent the Internet into meltdown and gave us some of the best Marvel memes of all the time. But these humorous memes pale in comparison to the true story behind that beloved yet straightforward line.
As part of America's Make A Wish foundation, many children struggling with terminal illness came on set. And when one child spoke to Hemsworth and said he should use the line, it instantly made an impression on him.
8. Is the Wakandan language real?
The Black Panther protagonist is filmed speaking the Wakandan language in both Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther.
While most fans thought it was made up the language is a twist on Xhosa, a real language widely spoken in parts of Zimbabwe and South Africa.
9. Hulk's professional name
The Incredible Hulk is one of the most famous Marvel creations with both a TV show and film series under the green titan's belt, but his real identity of David Banner was formally that of Bruce Banner.
His human identity was changed to David Banner for the TV series as a producer thought “Bruce” had homosexual connotations according to an interview with Stan Lee.
10. Marvel's legal quagmire with Fox
Because Fox formerly owned the X-Men license, many Marvel films from Captain America to Civil War had to word specific phrases used in the X-Men world carefully.
For instance, the word "mutant" had to be replaced with "enhanced." Superhero movies are supposed to be cool, but legalise in Hollywood sometimes causes the big-budget movies to be riddled with the smallest of issues.
11. Marvel Comics' editor-in-chief wrote under a Japanese pseudonym
Marvel Comics' editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski admitted that he once wrote comics under the Japanese pseudonym "Akira Yoshida" for a year. As Akira, Cebulski wrote for Dreamwave, Dark Horse, and Marvel Comics between 2005 and 2006 with several storylines taking heavily from Asian and Japanese influences with many of them featuring martial arts and a Japanese setting.
Rumors that Akira Yoshida was a pen-name had been circulating within the industry for some time but Cebulski went to some effort to conceal the fact that he was Akira by creating an elaborate backstory and even getting a Japanese translator to stand in for him as the fictional writer. Addressing the story, Cebulski said:
"I stopped writing under the pseudonym Akira Yoshida after about a year," Cebulski told Bleeding Cool. "It wasn’t transparent, but it taught me a lot about writing, communication and pressure. I was young and naïve and had a lot to learn back then. But this is all old news that has been dealt with, and now as Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief, I’m turning a new page and am excited to start sharing all my Marvel experiences with up and coming talent around the globe."
12. The Weeknd's Marvel collaboration
Marvel is a cool brand that has attracted many celebrities to get their geek on and be inspired to write their own superhero, as pop star The Weeknd did when he released his own Starboy-themed comic book in collaboration with the entertainment giants. The star unveiled the comic at a packed-out signing at New York Comic Con. The storyline is a semi-autobiographical account of his on-stage persona's newfound lifestyle as he navigates through a world of unparalleled fame and fortune.
“‘Starboy’ is the next chapter in this chronicle, this saga,” the singer said in an interview with radio DJ Zane Lowe. I guess this is the fourth chapter. He’s a character that we created. It’s so funny, we want to create a comic out of him as well…He’s a cool, dope character that makes appearances a lot on the album.
“He’s definitely made his appearance in different records in the past as well. He’s a more braggadocious character that we all have inside of us.”
13. The constant destruction of the Xavier/ Jean Grey School
It's almost comical that in nearly every X Men series, movie or comic book Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is destroyed.
The perpetrators of this include Juggernaut, the Skrulls, Onslaught and Phalanx.
14. Is it Spider-Man or Spiderman?
Everyone's favorite web-head has a name that continues to attract the incorrect spelling. To some fans, it's “Spider-Man." To others, including journalists, it's “Spiderman” or “Spider Man”.
According to the man himself, it’s spelt with a hyphen to not confuse the human spider with Superman as it has a similar-looking name.
15. Hulk wasn't always green
We've already explained the origins of Hulk's on-screen name of David Banner, but we're guessing that even less of you know that the hero's signature green skin was supposed to be gray.
In the first few issues of the comics, Banner morphed into a grey-skinned monster, but sensing that green was a more color friendley tone for the printing process due to different shades of grey always being printed out, his image transformed to a vibrant green.
16. Men In Black is a Marvel franchise
The Men in Black film series has spanned 12 years from the first in 1997 to the latest in 2012 and was a series that cemented Will Smith's reputation as one of Hollywood's go-to movie stars. But did you know that it is under the ownership of the Marvel license?
The heavyweight entertainment company bought the previous publisher, Malibu, three years before the first release in 1994 and all rights to the series have been Marvel productions ever since. A wise investment.
17. The cool story behind Spiderman's amazing black spider suit
Marvel held a fan competition back in the 1980s that attracted thousands of applications. One entry that stood out was an impressive sketch for a black stealth suit for Spider-Man.
Designed by Reed Richards and fine-tuned by Janet van Dyne, the fan's idea netted him a cool $220. While that sounds generous, the design eventually made 2007’s Spider-Man 3, so with that in mind, you almost feel sorry that the author of this slick suit wasn't better compensated!
18. Marvel and its history of the word "zombie"
It was well-documented in the geek world when Games Workshop kicked up a considerable copyright fuss on any company trading products under the title “Space Marine.” However, Marvel did this back in 1975 when they tried to copyright the sleep-walking horror character known commonly as the “zombie.”
Common sense soon prevailed, and every court warned that it would be near-impossible to achieve. Thankfully, the unnecessary pursuit ended in 1995.
19. Tom Holland's bizarre Spider-Man casting
You couldn't make this up. The young British actor was a reasonably big deal until he was lying in bed one night and was informed of his Spider-Man casting on social media, becoming an instant superstar.
Rather than have his agent call him to confirm the role first or get a call from studio heads, Marvel thought they'd let him know like everyone else by revealing his casting on their website. The stuff of dreams.
20. A brief history
A leading pioneer in the comic book genre, Lee, along with co-creators Jack Kirby and artist Steve Ditko, would create some of the world's best-known superhero characters under their esteemed entertainment and media company, Marvel Universe. These included X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Black Panther, and perhaps most famously of all, Spiderman, all of which have been adapted into lucrative films.
While Lee made a series of famous cameos in Marvel's adaptations, the legendary comic book writer valued his privacy, and in his later years, became somewhat of a recluse. Despite his increasing anonymity, Lee's impact on the entertainment world only grew, as reflected in the glowing tributes by fellow entertainers, many of whom worked on the Marvel movies.
Hugh Jackman, who was one of Marvel's earliest cinematic stars- appearing in Wolverine and the various follow-ups- waxed lyrical of Lee's 'creative genius' in a heartfelt tweet.
"We’ve lost a creative genius. Stan Lee was a pioneering force in the superhero universe. I’m proud to have been a small part of his legacy and .... to have helped bring one of his characters to life. #StanLee #Wolverine," he wrote.
21. Stan Lee's Captain Marvel cameo
Speaking to ET Online, Marvel president Kevin Feige confirmed that the cameo was filmed shortly before his death. He also hinted that there was a potential Lee cameo in Spider-Man: Far From Home. "We'll see. We shot a couple of others, so we're coming up on the last of them, yes."
Lee's last cameo was in Captain Marvel. Acting alongside Brie Larson her character is at first hesitant around Lee, believing he may be a Skrull (ET shapeshifters) before quickly realizing who he is and smiling.
The film also started with a beautiful montage of all Lee's cameos over the years before ending with a glowing 'Thank you, Stan'.
Feige added, "It was soon after he passed, and we were thinking about what to do and how to do it and whether to release something or put something out online. And we figured, as we always have, the way to pay honor to him is the way we've been trying to do while he was alive, which is the movies.
"I had always thought in the back of my head, should that day ever come - which as I've previously said, I wasn't sure it would. Like, I envisioned him at 127 - that I would want something sort of touching and rousing up front, as opposed to sort of depressing at the end."
22. Marvel almost never happened
We all know someone who has diced with death, and four years before Marvel's very first published comic, its founder Martin Goodman's return journey from his honeymoon by airship could have ended in tragedy.
Luckily, he took too long booking the appropriate tickets and couldn't travel aboard the Hindenberg's fateful journey.
23. Marvel's early cinematic flops
It seems almost unheard of to hear of superhero movies failing to make a profit at the box office as there the only studio movies that ever get made nowadays, but go back just two decades and the climate was very different.
While the appetite for superhero content was high, Marvel movies in the ’80s and 90’s performed poorly, and the Marvel world seemed destined to fail in Hollywood, a failure that went as far back as 1944's Captain America.
24. A decline in comic book sales
As we've just mentioned, Marvel's movies in pre-2000 performed poorly at the box office, and this failure was compounded by a decrease in comic book sales in the 90s because of the popularity of collectable editions.
This inadvertent second market meant that sales of their current editions plummeted, so much so that by 1996 shares in Marvel dropped from a modest $35 to a woeful $2.
25. Chris Evans's Avengers: EndGame confession
In the lead-up to Avengers: EndGame, the star-studded cast has been doing tons of press and one of the stories that stood out more than most was Chris Evans's crying confession! Yes, the brawny hardman is human too, as he admitted when speaking to Variety at the Los Angeles Convention Center. "I have a lot of my friends and family here tonight, and a lot of them are right up here.
"We have this bond that transcends what we do for a living... I cried like six times [tonight]."
Not to be outdone, Chris Hemsworth then admitted that he cried on six separate occasions while Mark Ruffalo warned fans that they would 'grieve' after watching the long-awaited Marvel blockbuster.
The three-hour movie has been met with rave reviews by critics, with Erik Davis from Fandango describing it as a "masterful epic.
26. First edition Marvel comics will net you a small fortune
Whether you like it or not, comic books are a powerful and extremely influential art form in popular culture (certainly in the USA anyway) and that has only increased with movie studios continuing to turn for them for material. However, some well-known comic books can be super hard to come by, and that usually means big bucks to collectors and dealers should they ever find one of these rarities.
Marvel Comics, has been around for a long, long time and started out life as Timely Comics. It was there a comic book series known as Marvel Comics became so popular that icon and visionary Stan Lee pushed for the company to change their name to that and so they did.
As such, the first issue of the comic bearing that name, not only has some iconic characters like the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch but also is highly valuable because of its cultural relevance. Only 26 issues of it are known to exist (although there may be more in attics and storage units) making it super rare.
27. Spider-Man and SNL
Saturday Night Live! Yes, the comedy improv show that often targets current events for its hit and miss bits and has spawned some comedy legends. That SNL became a feature of a 1978 Spider-Man Team-Up issue when comedy hero John Belushi receives a ring, he can't take off, and that attracts villains to him.
Spider-Man comes to his rescue, along with other cast members that include Bill Murray and Gilda Ratner. It's super-low on jokes for a comic starring a bunch of comedy stars and is just stupid as heck, but it's now a pretty quirky period piece.
28. Spider-Man 2: The best Marvel video game of all time?
We think so. An adaptation of the second Spider-Man film (the one with Tobey Maguire) but where it excelled was the essential web-slinging mechanic where you could swing through the streets of New York City with pace as you clung to buildings from your web.
It was integral to the feel of Spiderman and it was something that had not quite been cracked beforehand. It may not have aged well and has been aped many times since but this game did it first and fans that remember it will be given a warm glow of recognition of how great it was to actually 'be Spider-Man' for the first time.
29. Jeremey Renner's Olympic training
A lot of Marvel roles require significant amounts of physical exercise. Whilst that doesn't always involve morphing into a Greek-like God ala Thor style, you do need to boast some serious gains, as Renner discovered when he had to undergo Olympic training for his role as Hawkeye in the Avengers movies.
As the character's name suggests, Hawkeye is a master archer so was taken under the tutelage by a team of Olympic archers to finetune his bow and arrow skills.
30. George R.R. Martin's fan letter to Marvel writers
Arguably the world's most famous living author, George R.R. Martin's fantasy series Game of Thrones has become not only a publishing phenomenon but also one of the biggest tv shows of all time. However, his success came much later in his life, and for many years he was just another writer who- like many fellow writers- was also a big fan of comic books.
Martin's love for Marvel goes back to the 60s, and Marvel themselves have the letter to prove it! Publishing it on their website once news got out that Martin was now a famous author, the letter was published under their letter columns in the ’60s.In the words of Martin himself, Marvel continues to remain the "world's best mag!!!".