Since its first publications as Timely Comics way back in 1941, the Marvel Comics Group would not have lasted if it hadn’t picked up a few interesting stories or its powerful superheroes along the way. These days the group are making headlines not just in print but also in their immensely ambitious but extremely successful Cinematic Universe.
We’ve rooted though the history books for fascinating Marvel facts from it’s comic book history to intriguing trivia on the Marvel Cinematic Universe…
1. The First Marvel Superhero
Thought Captain America was the first Marvel hero? Well you’d be right were it not for some clever modifications. Marvel’s first hero, appearing in Marvel #1 in 1939 was The Human Torch – not Johnny Storm but an android that could control fire. The comic book sold more than 800,000 copies. Our fave Cap wasn’t born into the world until 1941, selling over one million copies.
2. Marvel Almost Owned DC
In our list of Spider-Man facts, we mentioned that the Clone Saga almost killed Marvel Comics, but a decade earlier, DC was in the dumps as their characters weren’t really selling. Jim Shooter, Marvel’s editor-in-chief was approached by the head of Warner Communications’ publishing at the time but turned down the offer claiming DC characters wouldn’t sell as they weren’t very good. Ouch! Imagine if the deal went ahead. That same-old Marvel comics vs. DC comics debate would never have existed!
3. Aunt May and Tony Together?
An MCU hook-up? Hear us out before scrambling for the barf bags! Melissa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. (who played the respective pair in Civil War) knew each other from the 1994 film Only You, and dated for a while. Her position in Homecoming was in fact a recommendation by Downey despite breaking up on good terms some time ago. It’s always who you know in Hollywood…
4. Black Panther is NOT the Richest Superhero
It has been estimated that Black Panther has an estimated net worth of somewhere in the trillions. This makes T’Challa himself only slightly less well-off than the entirety of Sweden which has a nominal GDP of $507 billion. Being king of a country and thus its wealth being your wealth will no doubt do this for you but believe it or not, he’s not the number one richest hero in the Universe as many would assume – check out our ranking of the richest Marvel heroes to find out who makes it to the top of the list!
5. Wolverine was Almost a Talking Wolverine
Bit of random trivia from the wacky days of 1977 – everyone’s favorite knuckle-clawed hunk Wolverine was planned to be a wolverine who mutated into a human. This was indicated by a passing leprechaun only he saw but the story group never followed through with this.
6. Samuel L. Jackson was Nick Fury by Accident
If it was rather convenient that Nick Fury started looking like Samuel L. Jackson, you might be pleased to learn this was no accident. Creators, Mark Miller and Bryan Hitch came up with the idea without asking him in 2000, and it wasn’t until over a decade later they told him he’d be a lead character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Upon hearing, Sam reacted by thanking them for getting him a 10-film movie deal.
7. Wasp Was Almost in ‘Avengers Assemble’
Wanna know some movie trivia that no one really knows? In earlier drafts, Henry Pym’s wife, Janet van Dyne was set to appear as the Wasp, an interesting setup as she was one of the original Avengers alongside Hulk, Thor and Iron Man. Her role however was given to Black Widow, likely to reduce clutter as she had been established in Iron Man 2.
8. Black Widow is How Old?
The films are very vague about how old Natasha Romanov is, only hinting she is old enough to have been raised by the KGB. In the comics however, various medical procedures and bits of biotechnology have allowed her to live for decades. As the KGB becomes a more distant memory, it’s more likely the young Natasha is much older than she looks. In the comics, she’s said to be 70 years-old!
9. Groot – Master of Lines
Saying “I am Groot” might be one of the easiest actor roles in any film to date, but that’s boring. Not only is every line specific to the situation, Vin Diesel recorded himself saying the line in multiple languages including Afrikaans, Russian, Mandarin, French, Flemish and Spanish. If saying “I am Groot” in over a dozen languages is not impressive enough, when it came to Baby Groot there was no added effect to his words; that was pure Diesel. Despite being famous for having a deep baritone voice on screen, Vin Diesel’s been imitating cartoon characters since he was a kid.
10. “He’s a Friend from Work!”
Did you spot this cool Thor: Ragnarok Easter Egg? When it was revealed, Thor shouting “He’s a friend from work!” made immense waves on social media. The idea came from a kid visiting the set as part of the Make A Wish foundation, who suggested the line to Hemsworth during a break between takes.
See our full list of Chris Hemsworth’s best movie roles!
11. Wakandans Speak a Real Language
In Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther, we get scenes of T’Challa and his kin from Wakanda speaking in their native tongue. One of the most interesting hidden references in Black Panther is how the words spoken are a variety of Xhosa, a real language spoken prominently in Zimbabwe and South Africa which are close to where Wakanda is situated in the MCU.
12. Peggy’s Unscripted Scene in ‘The First Avenger’
When Steve Rogers steps out of the chamber that transforms him into a superman, Peggy Carter can’t help but examine a shirtless Chris Evans with her hand during Captain America: The First Avenger. This wasn’t scripted, but one of those moments in cinema that simply happened spontaneously and was left in for the authenticity of which it played out. We don’t blame you Peggy, you wouldn’t be the only one.
13. David or Bruce Banner?
Here’s an interesting superhero fact some of you probably didn’t know. One of the more famous things about The Incredible Hulk TV show and film series was that Bruce Banner, human identity of the Hulk, was called David Banner in the show. According to a Stan lee interview, this was because a producer considered “Bruce” to have homosexual connotations despite Stan’s insistence to the contrary. Wow.
14. Marvel-Fox Legal Complications
Due to Fox owning the X-Men license at the time, various films from Captain America to Civil War needed to rephrase many things. Neither Cap’s shield or Ultron contain a trace of Adamantium (the metal around Wolverine’s bones), every instance of “mutant” is replaced with “enhanced” while Wanda and Peter have more mundane parents than Magneto.
15. The Universe’s Greatest Powers
Marvel has many great and powerful heroes, and a popular proposal is who is the most powerful. This award could go to the One Above All, an all-powerful all-knowing entity that takes the form of Jack Kirby when interacting with others. A step below him is the Living Tribunal, a cosmic entity charged with keeping all universes in balance who can make stars on supernova on a whim. He got a name-drop as a relic owned by Mordo in 2016’s Doctor Strange.
Have you seen all the MCU movies? Check out our Marvel Universe timeline starting with Captain America: The First Avenger!
16. The Lady Death, Deadpool and Thanos Love Triangle
It seems Thanos is also keen on winning love wars. Did you know that he was caught up in a love triangle with Deadpool and Lady Death (a cosmic-entity and personification of death which takes the form of a female skeleton)? Indeed. This was somewhat referenced in Deadpool 2 but not to its full extent. So what’s the story? Both the Mad Titan and Wade Wilson were in love with Death but Thanos ended up winning her over and they even had a baby together (Rot). How? He cursed Deadpool with immortality, preventing him from ever truly dying and being with his sweetheart. Damn, that Thanos is a douche.
17. The Xavier/Jean Grey School has a History of Exploding
It’s a running joke in X Men that Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters gets destroyed quite regularly. It has been attacked at least seven times including by Juggernaut, the Skrulls, Onslaught and Phalanx. Most adaptations in the movies, TV shows and video games involve the school coming under attack at least once.
18. ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘Spiderman’?
You’ll see it in a number of places where it’s asked if the Web-Head’s name is “Spider-Man”, “Spiderman” or “Spider Man”. According to Stan Lee, it’s Spider-Man, with a hyphen, in order to separate him from Superman who in print, could appear to have a very similar name.
19. Hulk was Grey at First
When he first appeared, Bruce Banner would transform into a grey-skinned Hulk. He was made green after the first few issues because when it came to printing comics, the grey tone in the four-colour printing process would come out different every time. Grey Hulk would come back as a smarter, more talkative form who took the alias Joe Fixit.
20. Marvel Own the Men In Black
The Men in Black, the black-suited agents of the acclaimed 1997-2012 film series are by right of ownership Marvel license. The company bought the previous publisher, Malibu, in 1994 but all the films, shows and video games have been Marvel productions. Makes you wonder if Coulson and co. strutting around in polarized shades and black suits is a nod to the men above the system.
21. A Fan Designed the Black Spider Suit
In the 1980’s, Marvel held a fan competition, looking for aspiring writers and artists. One fan submitted an idea of a stealth suit for the web-head, engineered by Reed Richards and tailored by Janet van Dyne. The idea didn’t hold but Marvel liked the outfit and offered the fan $220 for it. It was used in the comics and even in movies like 2007’s Spider-Man 3.
22. Marvel tried to Copyright “Zombie”
Games Workshop has known to kick up a fuss by bringing the copyright hammer down on anyone using the word “Space Marine.” But Marvel might have outdone their ambition in 1975 when they tried to copyright the word “zombie.” The claim didn’t last as it didn’t take long for the company to realize that such a claim is next to impossible to enforce, and gave up by 1996.
23. The Origin of the Mutant
The idea of the X-Men being mutants, an entirely different kind of human homo superior might have been catapulted by a legal loophole. They were always mutants but the import of human figures into the United States starting 1994 was more expensive than importing non-human figures. X-Men action figures produced in China were marketed as ‘mutants’ rather than humans.
24. Captain Marvel vs. Shazam
The name “Captain Marvel” has an interesting history behind it. In 1967, Marvel learned that DC planned to revive Fawcett’s Captain Marvel from the ’40s. DC were beaten to the punch and had to bill him as Shazam, but Marvel is now obligated to keep printing Captain Marvel stories or they lose the right to use him/her to DC. Explains why there are so many variations of the hero throughout the Marvel Universe – a few of them were teased in the Captain Marvel movie!
25. Tom Holland Found Out he was Spider Man on Instagram
It sounds like something from a movie: You’re in bed one evening chilling out by browsing your social media feed when boom! You see your face on some big company’s page that says you are going places. Tom Holland claimed he went ballistic-nuts when he saw Marvel reveal on their website that he’d be the new Spider-Man actor.
26. Marvel Comics Almost Never Existed
Marvel could have died four years before it published its first issue. In 1937, its creator Martin Goodman was preparing to return to America from a honeymoon by airship – a very classy mode of travel at the time. However, in a move we’ve all likely made, he was just a little too slow in to booking the seats he wanted. He was lucky as he almost bought two seats aboard the Hindenberg on its fateful journey. Woah.
27. A Famous Car Appeared in ‘Civil War’
It’s something of an open secret In Hollywood that sets and props get recycled and reused in other movies to save money. Rarely is it done with cars however, as they are usually loans. Fans of Arrested Development however, might recognize the livery of the stair car at the German airport seen in Civil War as the one popularly used by the Bluth family in the show. That’s just one of the many secret Easter Eggs in Civil War!
28. Marvel Movies Once Flopped
These days, it’s somewhat trendy to bash any movie made by DC while almost all MCU movies are praised to the skies. It was a different story back in the 80’s and 90’s when during a dark period of poor comic films, Marvel got the short-end of the poo-stick. Captain America struggled in 1944 and 1996 and a film for The Punisher went straight to video. Don’t believe us? Ask any Marvel fan about 1986’s Howard the Duck and see what they say.
29. Collectors Almost Killed Marvel
The early 1990’s were really not a fun time for Marvel. Along with a Captain America stinker and the Clone Saga looking rather threatening with its pillow, comic sales in the 90’s plummeted as selling old collections became popular. By 1996, shares in Marvel dropped from $35 to just $2. Barely more than the shelf price of the comics they printed.
30. Infinity War’s Spoiler-Proofing Strategy
It’s tough to safeguard spoilers these days when the internet is so ubiquitous. The plan for Infinity War appears to be going the way of Greek Fire by making sure that Tom Holland (the youngest and most likely to talk cast member) doesn’t have access to the entire script. Here’s a funny video showing Benedict Cumberbatch continuously stopping Tom from spoiling the movie. Poor dude.
31. Steve Had a “Catch Up List” For Every Country
There were multiple versions of Steve’s “catch-up” list in Winter Soldier which would list icons of pop culture for whatever country the film was playing in. For Australians, his list contained Steve Irwin and Skippy for French viewers, “Fifth Element” was spotted while for the U.K, The Beatles and World Cup Final (1966) were pending on his list!
32. Jeremey Renner Trained with Olympic Archers
How do you prepare in just a few months what looks like something that would take a lifetime? You hire the experts! In his preparation for the role of master archer and Shield super-agent Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner trained with Olympic archers to understand how to shoot a bow. A playlist suited to the role is another trick of his.
33. Downey Jr. Did Not Make the Initial Cuts
It’s kind of difficult to imagine an Iron Man not played by Robert Downey Jr. but that almost happened had Jon Favreau not insisted. The drug and alcohol habits that nailed him the role were initially a red flag for Marvel producers when Iron Man was being made. Understandable but sometimes the best person to understand the mind of an alcoholic is another alcoholic.
Find out more interesting facts about Iron Man!
34. Baby Groot’s Dance Number
From concept to final execution, it took James Gunn and the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 team two whole years to plan and create Baby Groot’s dance to Electric Light Orchestra’s hit Mr Blue Sky. This mammoth project (that totally paid off) included Gunn having his producer film him busting some moves.
35. George R.R. Martin Loved Marvel
He’s famous for reinventing the fantasy genre and enjoying a higher fictional body count than Joss Whedon, but George R. R. Martin was an avid fan of Marvel to the point where he wrote in to Marvel’s letter columns in the ’60s. He was particularly fond of the Fantastic Four.
There’s no shortage of weird and wonderful stories – we could talk all things Marvel all day long. Are there any amazing tales you’ve heard of that are worth sharing? Let us know in the comments. Until next time, fellow true believers!
Dare to turn to the other side? Check out our list of DC Comics trivia and find out all there is to know about Batman, Superman and Aquaman!