Marvel Universe

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"None of this is really happening. There is a man. With a typewriter. This is all part of his crazy imagination."

The world as portrayed in Marvel Comics, especially under Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. As in The DCU, Marvel heroes form teams and Crossover occurs frequently, with many Continuity Nods. (In fact, you could argue that Marvel invented the Continuity Nod.) Many of these comic books have been the basis for movies, TV series or both.

Many TV series and movies set in the Marvel Universe take place in and around New York. The original architects of the world put most of the heroes there, as a subversion of the then-dominant trope of No Communities Were Harmed and as an excuse for Cross Overs.

The Marvel Universe's defining characteristics include a general trend toward realism mixed with the fantastic, a little more Civvie Spandex than The DCU, and a strong undercurrent of cynicism among the local populace who are anything from skeptical to distrustful of superpowered beings aside from charismatic mega-celebrities like Iron Man and the Fantastic Four. Of course, it varies from writer to writer; in some eras Marvel have more explicitly tried to root their Universe in 'the real world', while at other times there have been entire mutant ghettos covering large areas of New York City. Which might have been considered "realistic"...

You can find a timeline of its major events here

Currently owned by Disney; a striking parallel to Disney's old animated shorts rival Warner Bros owning The DCU.

Series in this universe:

  • Spider-Man
    • Spider-Man, a 1967 cartoon version, with an Expository Theme Tune that many baby-boomers can still sing from memory.
    • The Amazing Spider-Man, a 1977 live-action series, cancelled due to Executive Meddling when CBS decided they were running too many Superhero series.
    • Spider-Man, a 1978 Japanese Toku series that featured Spider-Man piloting a Humongous Mecha and was one of the inspirations for Super Sentai/Power Rangers.
    • Spider-Man, a 1981 cartoon version with an early animated example of Story Arcs.
    • Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, a 1981 cartoon that teamed him up with Iceman of the X-Men and Firestar, an original character that eventually became a Canon Immigrant. Still considered as definitive as the 1960s series.
    • Spider-Man, a 1994 cartoon with more focus on Story Arcs and Character Development.
    • Spider-Man Unlimited, a short-lived 1999 cartoon where Spidey is transported to Another Dimension. Originally intended to be based on Spider-Man 2099... a comic book title many fans argue Bruce Timm ripped off when developing Batman Beyond.
    • Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, a 2003 MTV computer-animated series based loosely on the movie continuity.
    • Spider-Man, a 2002 big-budget movie, considered to be (along with X-Men) one of the causes of the current superhero movie boom. Has had two sequels, in 2004 and 2007. A Continuity Reboot called The Amazing Spider-Man is slated for a 2012 release.
    • As well, he showed up in segments of The Electric Company, where he taught reading to kids by having adventures while speaking only in word balloons.
    • The Spectacular Spider-Man a 2008-2010 series, featuring Peter Parker as a high-school student, which aired on Kids' WB and then Disney XD for two seasons.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man, a animated series that premiered in 2012, where Peter, also a high-school student in this show, is being trained by SHIELD to be a professional superhero and teams up with a variety of other Marvel superheroes.
  • X-Men
    • Pryde of the X-Men, a failed 1989 Pilot Movie.
    • X-Men, a 1992 cartoon version.
    • Generation X was a failed Pilot Movie from 1996, featuring the characters of the X-Men comic-book Spin-Off who attended Xavier's mutant school.
    • X-Men Evolution, a 2000 cartoon with it's own continuity. X-23, a Canon Immigrant, originated here.
    • X-Men, a 2000 big-budget movie. Had two sequels, in 2003 and 2006. A 2009 Wolverine prequel has been released, as well as a 2011 prequel called X-Men: First Class set in the 1960s.
    • Wolverine and the X-Men, a 2008 cartoon series (which aired in 2009 in the US), is the latest adaptation. It dives straight into a spinoff of the comics continuity, so in tone it's closest to the 1992 cartoon (but in art it's more like Evolution). Canceled after one season.
    • Two Anime shows, one based on Wolverine, and the other on the X-Men, were made in 2011.
  • Iron Man
    • The Marvel Superheroes, a 1966 animated anthology.
    • A 1994 cartoon version, shown with the contemporary Fantastic Four cartoon as part of the "Marvel Action Hour." Season 1 saw Shellhead leading Force Works, but a massive Retool for Season 2 saw - among other changes - more solo hero action.
    • A 2007 OAV, The Invincible Iron Man.
    • Iron Man, a 2008 big-budget movie, and its 2010 sequel.
    • Iron Man: Armored Adventures, a 2009 CGI animated TV show which has a sassy teen Stark as quipping Spidermanesque incarnation of Iron Man.
    • An anime version with 12 episodes.
  • Blade
    • The Tomb of Dracula, a comic which involved the first appearance of the character.
    • Blade, the movie trilogy which featured Wesley Snipes as the titular Vampire Hunter in the late '90s and early '00s:
      • Blade, in 1998
      • Blade II, in 2002
      • Blade Trinity, in 2004.
    • Blade the Series, a short-lived 2006 TV adaption, was based on these films.
    • Blade, a 2011 12-episode anime series.

Other heroes:

Other anti-heroes:


Notable Antagonists:


Other Marvel Universe comic series:

Other TV adaptations:

Other movie adaptations:

  • Doctor Strange was made into a failed Pilot Movie in 1978; its demonology content allegedly prompted outcries from Christian groups that made sponsors back off from the project.
    • A direct-to-DVD animated movie was released in 2007.
  • A film version of Howard the Duck, produced (not directed) by George Lucas, was released in 1986.
  • In 1991, a Pilot Movie was made for Power Pack, but was never aired. Even so, it still has an IMDB entry.
    • Bootlegs of the pilot have caused some to assume it did get an actual broadcast in some markets, but as of yet there has been no proof.
  • The Punisher appeared in two different movies, both with no continuity to each other, made 15 years apart (1989 and 2004). They did it again in 2008, with Punisher: War Zone.
  • The Ultimate Avengers OAV, based on the comic The Ultimates, was released on DVD, February 21, 2006. A sequel was released on August 8, 2006.
  • A big-budget Ghost Rider film starring Nicholas Cage was released in early 2007.
  • As well, Marvel Entertainment has announced that they are planning future movie projects for The Avengers, Nick Fury, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak & Dagger, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack, and Shang-Chi.
    • The set-up of The Avengers movie in Iron Man and Tony Stark's cameo in The Incredible Hulk suggest that Marvel may be trying to place the movies independently produced by Marvel Studios into their own continuity.
    • An animated Black Panther TV show is under development for BET.

The Marvel Universe provides examples of the following tropes:
  • A God Am I: Thor, Hercules, Zeus and Odin make their godly heritage known to all who meet them.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: First comic-book world to have widespread prejudice against a particular type of superhumans, the "anti-mutant paranoia".
  • All Powerful Bystander: The Living Tribunal is this until a multiversial threat arises. He tends to destroy the universe the threat is located in and then resume being a bystander.
  • Alternate Universe: A number of Marvel stories deal with and take place in these. Most prominent (and Alternate Continuity examples) are listed below.
  • Arms and Armor Theme Naming: The covert organizations S.H.I.E.L.D., A.R.M.O.R., S.W.O.R.D. and H.A.M.M.E.R.
  • Badass Bookworm: High Evolutionary, Thanos, M.O.D.O.K., Leader, Valeria, Reed Richards, Alyssa Moy, Mad Thinker, Hank Pym, Doctor Doom, Maelstrom, Brainchild, Bruce Banner and Spider-Man.
  • Bald Women: Moondragon and Nebula (after her escape from Titan and a cybernetic operation)
  • The Berserker: Hulk, Juggernaut, Colossus, Thing, Thanos, Wolverine and Thor when he delves into the Warrior's Madness.
  • Blessed with Suck (One of Stan Lee's innovations was to write about "superheroes with problems." Characters like Spider-man, the Hulk, and the Thing were early results of this.)
    • Iron Man was the first superhero with a substance abuse problem.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Anyone with power over electricity and a vengeful nature. Thor and Zeus are notable examples.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Magneto a few times.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Iron Man actually believed he could put Thor down by himself. He was very wrong.
  • City of Adventure: Makes you wonder just how New York City hasn't gotten wiped out yet.
  • Comic Book Time: When he revealed himself during Civil War, Peter Parker stated that he had been acting as Spider-Man since he was 15. Same goes for the first X-Men team, who started in heroics in their teens (sans Beast), and now almost 50 years later (in real time), they still seem to be 30-somethings.
  • Conqueror From the Future "Kang the Conqueror" is quite likely the Ur Example.
  • Crapsack World: Few comic book universes make life harder on its heroes than the Marvel Universe. At different times, either the public hates them, the government actively tries to kill mutants, the media paints them as evil, or laws have been passed making most of them wanted fugitives.
    • And that only covers Earth, which probably contains only a fraction of all the combined power in the universe. The Marvel Universe is crawling with cosmic beings such as Galactus and countless others who have all been either indifferent to or outright wanted to massacre the Earth.
  • Crossover Cosmology (Thor, Hercules, and Amaterasu all coexist with every other god EVER)
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check (The Trapster, the Ringer and many, many more. Occasionally subverted by villains like the Wizard, who became a zillionaire through legitimate means before getting bored and turning to crime, or 8-Ball, who only became a supervillain after he was fired from his job and blacklisted for being suspected of selling company secrets to pay his gambling debts.)
  • Deconstruction: Arguably a founding father of the concept for superhero comics as it definitely helped popularized the idea of Fantastic Racism for the genre. (People don't seem to notice as much due to how the earlier Marvel comics were not truly Darker and Edgier.) But still Marvel is definitely one of the reasons why being a super powered being (especially if you were born with super powers) might not get you respected.
  • The Dreaded: The Void. And the Sentry by default, as everyone just knows he's going to snap one day. Then he does.
  • Easily-Conquered World: When you look back at history, not so much. When one prospective conquering race heard about everything Marvel Earth has fought and beaten, they ran. Ran.
  • Easy Road to Hell: In both the DC and Marvel 'verses there have been examples of people getting sent to Hell with magic, rather than through any fault of their own. Granted, in most such cases they were able to get out later.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Swarming hordes of them, whether of mystical or 'cosmic' origins.
  • Enormous Engine: SHIELD helicarriers are usually shown with four enormous turbines.
  • Everyone Is Related: Due to the Summers' Tangled Family Tree.
    • There's also most of the gods. Gaea is the Mother-Goddess in most pantheons in Marvel and has birthed a child in just about all of them. Thus, you get wacky family connections like The Mighty Thor being The Incredible Hercules's great-uncle.
  • Fantastic Racism: Marvel is very well known for this; documentaries have suggested that one reason for Marvel's popularity in the 60's was its use of resonant contemporary themes like bigotry and the marginalization of minorities.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Recurrent with any organization that uses an acronym (see Arms and Armor Theme Naming; another prominent example is Advanced Idea Mechanics, or simply A.I.M.); subverted with H.A.M.M.E.R. in which Norman Osborn first came up with the name without an acronym behind it and, even after he was arrested and broken out again, no one knows what it stands for.
  • Genius Bruiser: Many of the most intellectually gifted characters that exist are also extremely skilled when it comes to battling, whether through superpowers or their own training.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Wolverine and Iron Man might be under the flag of good, but they can be outright pricks at times.
  • Healing Factor: A very common ability once you get to the bigger tiers. Wolverine, Deadpool and Hulk are the three most popular examples.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: X-Men comics are the clearest example, but this trope shows up in other series as well.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Every Hulk powered by gamma radiation and Hulk's nemesis Abomination. Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, which gave him the abilities of Spider-Man.
  • Immortality: Marvel has at least one character who embodies each type.
  • Immortality Hurts: To his credit, Deadpool has fun when he gets mutilated, shot, stabbed, burned, decapitated, skinned and liquefied, mostly because of his habit of being a funny guy, but he still feels the pain.
  • Indecisive Medium: The movies set in the universe start with the Marvel logo with the flipping comic book pages.
  • Joker Immunity: An endemic problem in any long-running comic book universe, but especially so here.
  • Lamarck Was Right
  • Legacy Character
  • Leotard of Power
  • Loads and Loads of Characters (for pretty much every long-running series)
  • Mad God: Thanos. Thor as well when driven to Warrior's Madness.
  • Mega Manning: Rogue is a famous example. Protege to a much higher degree; not even Celestial beings were safe.
  • Meta Origin
  • Micro Monarchy: The statelet of Latveria.
  • Number of the Beast: Fandom recurrently tends to call the primary Marvel Universe number 616, sometimes considered to be the original number of absolute evil. Writer Dave Thorpe allegedly deliberately came up with the designation, since he considered this what the superhero genre in essence had evolved into.
    • Fandom considered designating the Marvel Zombies universe as 666. It eventually ended up as 2149.
  • The Omnipotent: It really depends on one's definition of omnipotent. The Living Tribunal has been called omnipotent by several different characters, yet multiple beings have surpassed his power (Beyonder, Thanos, Protege and Molecule Man) and defeated him. The Infinity Gauntlet grants the wearer omnipotence but every being who has ever worn it has had it forcibly taken from them.
    • The only indisputable example of an omnipotent character is The-One-Above-All. Just as the name says, he is above everyone in strength and is the higher power the Living Tribunal serves and answers to.
  • One Steve Limit: You better believe this trope is averted. There are easily half a dozen characters named James (Wolverine, War Machine, Bucky), a good few Henrys (the original Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Goliath/Yellowjacket and so on, Beast), and plenty of Peters (Spider-Man, Trapster).
    • There's a Henry Peter, to boot (Gyrich).
  • Personal Gain Hurts: (Just ask Spidey)
  • Physical God: Dozens of them.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: (Trope Namer)
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: with some aversions and subversions.
  • Ruined FOREVER: Believe Some fans now that Disney Owns Marvel Entirely.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Most prominently Deadpool, Wolverine, Punisher, and Moon Knight,.
  • Superhero
  • Super Registration Act: Has happened on more than one occasion, the most recent one being Civil War.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: Hawkeye did this to DeathBird after defeating her.
  • Token Minority Couple—Black Panther was paired off with Storm because they were both African, and no other reason then that.
    • Well also they both knew each other from past adventures, lost there virginity to each other, and two very powerful people.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Many characters have had moments of this but it's hard to believe someone knows Bruce Banner can turn into the Hulk, yet they still try to piss him off.
  • The Verse
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Sentry.
  • World War II: The Golden Age. Marvel's history began during this time, so its original characters live in this setting. Some legacy heroes/villains are also based on characters published in this time (such as the Human Torch). Note that Adolf Hitler was seemingly killed in his bunker by the original Human Torch, but actually survived for a while as the Hate-Monger.
  1. And until recently, Gabriel Jones