To start, the Marvel Universe isn't actually a universe — it's a multiverse. But, for the sake of familiarity, we'll call it the Marvel Universe from here on out. Most of the comic universe exists in the "main" universe, home to Earth-616, but there are numerous other universes, dimensions, alternate timelines, and other realities that exist. It's hard enough remembering the different links in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or trying to remember the names of over 1000 Marvel villains, and that's without even considering that some people remember every timeline that exists in the Marvel Universe. It can be exhausting to keep track. Though we can't help you keep track of all of the timelines, we're here to teach you a thing or two (or fifteen) about the characters that Marvel has spent the last 78 years creating.
For the lifelong Marvel fan, some of the items on this list might be familiar to you — but not all of them will be. If you've only been introduced to Marvel's Universe through Marvel's Cinematic Universe, then you are in for a treat as you learn more about the main characters, side characters, and world(s) that Marvel has created.
15 A Superhero Exists Simply To Comfort A 4-Year-Old Boy
The story of Blue Ear highlights just how much of an impact great artists and content creators can have. A few years ago, a 4-year-old boy named Anthony Smith was born with the genetic disorder mosaic trisomy 22. Mothers who are carrying fetuses with this genetic disorder often have miscarriages, but those that don't will raise a child that suffers from developmental and health complications. For Anthony, it meant that he had severe hearing problems and relied on a hearing aid which he, and his family, called his blue ear.
Anthony didn't like wearing his blue ear. In fact, he would often get upset, remove his hearing aid, saying that superheroes don't wear hearing aids. His mother decided to write to the general Marvel mailbox to explain the situation with her son, and if there was anything the staff at Marvel could do. Luckily, Marvel editor and writer Bill Rosemann found the letter. He sent her a photo of Hawkeye and a letter saying that even though Hawkeye lost his hearing at one point, he was still a hero. But the story doesn't end there.
Rosemann, along with a few members from the editorial team, dedicated their free time to creating a superhero for boys like Anthony. They created Blue Ear, a superhero that used his hearing device to hear when someone is in trouble. The writers wanted to teach children that no matter what their disadvantage, anyone can be a hero.
Blue Ear made his comic debut in an issue of Team-Up Marvel Custom Solutions Iron Man, alongside Iron Man, and a brand new character named Sapheara, another hearing impaired superhero.
14 The Wall
There are close to 1,000 Marvel villains and it'd be surprising if there was anyone who could name every one of them off the top of their head. While there are some iconic Marvel villains such as Doctor Doom, Magneto, Loki, Ultron, and The Green Goblin — not every villain created in the Marvel universe is as noteworthy. In fact, you might say that some of them kinda suck.
One such villain was created when brick layer Joshua Wallace Waldemeyer had a wall fall on him after an unexpected explosion. Instead of completely crushing him, the wall absorbed him (what?) and created a living brick wall. The people of New York City lived in fear (and confusion) as The Wall threw a temper tantrum around the city.
The Wall stormed his way in the middle of a New York Mets game that Spider-Man happened to be attending. Spider-Man's attacks were powerless against The Wall, who is unable to feel any physical pain. The umpire of the baseball game shooed both Spider-Man and The Wall out of the park, where the two comic book characters talked things out on a park bench.
It just goes to show you that not every comic book villain is a home run.
13 Stephen Colbert Exists In The Marvel Universe
Stephen Colbert exists in the Marvel Universe much like he does in our own universe. However, in the Marvel Universe, Stephen Colbert ran in the 2008 presidential election as a third party candidate. Though initially Colbert wasn't a front runner in the election, he helped Spider-Man defeat Grizzly by pushing a statue off of a building, striking Grizzly in the head. Colbert ended up winning the popular vote, but lost the election to Barack Obama in electoral votes.
Long time comic book fan Barack Obama Net Worth also exists in the Marvel Universe — and he even has a few powers related to his rapping ability. In the comic, after performing a show, Eminem is ambushed by the Punisher who kills all of Eminem's bodyguards. Eminem's childhood friend Barracuda rescues him, and agrees to help Eminem kill the Punisher. Or, at least, that was their original plan.
12 ...And So Does Santa Claus
It's more of a joke than anything else, but ol' Saint Nicholas exists in the Marvel Universe. In fact, one version of Santa Claus was detected by Cerebro, the mutant-detecting computer used by the X-Men. Upon discovery, Santa Claus was branded "the most powerful mutant ever registered" and found to be in New York's Rockefeller Center. The X-Men, as well as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, tried to track down the powerful mutant. Santa, like the clever man that he is, turned the Brotherhood into inanimate toys, teleported the X-Men away and then erased the memory of everyone involved!
Some of Santa's super powers include longevity, the ability to fit himself and others through any chimney, levitating up a chimney, alter the appearance of himself or other objects and beings, changing the size of other objects, teleport himself and others across the world, generate snow, and determine on a whim who has been naughty or nice.
Besides being the most powerful mutant in existence, Santa also has access to a Tesseract that serves as a portal to a dimension that holds enough presents to give to everyone on Earth. This tesseract, of course, is his magical sack.
11 ...And Clark Kent
As early as 1976, Clark Kent (more commonly known as Superman) has been making casual appearances in the Marvel Universe. In the Marvel universe, Clark Kent is just an average reporter with quite the passion for reporting about superheroes.
John Byrne was one of the original artists of Marvel's Clark Kent, and explained that putting him in Marvel comics was meant to be a visual goof.
Though the original creators of Superman haven't commented on the appearance of Marvel's Clark Kent over the years, Marvel is walking a fine line by including him in the background of their comics.
According to Chris Claremont, they could never let their Clark Kent become involved in the script of their comic. That said, the most recent Clark Kent appearance in the Marvel universe was in 2006, in an issue of Fantastic Four.
There is, however, another version of Clark Kent on Earth-9602 that becomes a super soldier that has suspiciously similar powers to Superman.
10 Tony Stark Owns Area 51
In our own world, Area 51 is home to countless military secrets. Though we can speculate what is being held in Area 51 (aliens) we may never actually know what the government is hiding so carefully.
In the Marvel Universe, Area 51 is abandoned by the government and Area 52 is opened in Utah. Not wanting to waste the space that Area 51 used, Gamma Corps used the space as their headquarters. Area 51 was then bought by Tony Stark to store the Reality Gem.
The Reality Gem is one of six Infinity Gems that allow the user to control reality. For example, if they wanted to make 2 + 2 = 5 or change the laws of physics, they would be able to. Maybe that's what the United States government is actually hiding in Area 51? Or, you know, maybe not.
9 The Punisher Has Killed The Marvel Universe
In a one-off 1995 comic titled Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Doug Braithwaite, the Punisher does exactly what the title says: he kills every superhero and supervillain in the Marvel Universe.
This comic featured an altered version of the origin story of The Punisher (aka Frank Castle) so that his wife and children are killed after being caught in a battle between the Avengers, the X-Men, and a group of aliens in Central Park, rather than being killed by gang members. The Punisher arrives at the scene to find his wife and children dead, and Daredevil yelling at Cyclops and Captain America for being so careless. A few superheroes try to console Castle, but he is too enraged to hear their explanation. He open fires on them, killing Cyclops, Hawkeye, and Shadowcat. He's arrested and charged with triple-homicide.
Instead of being taken to prison, Frank Castle is taken to the mansion of a disfigured man named Kesselring, who was maimed while caught in the crossfire of a battle between superheroes and villains. Kesselring and his associates say that they will provide Frank Castle everything he needs if he kills every superhuman on Earth, he agrees, and sets out on his mission as The Punisher.
8 Deadpool Kills The Entire Marvel Universe Too (And Its Writers)
Deadpool is loved for his ability to break the fourth wall and address the audience directly. He's a unique brand of comic book hero that has great comedic sense, is notoriously violent, and is well aware of the fact that he exists within a comic book.
In a one-off epic Marvel Universe series, Deadpool was forced into Ravencroft Asylum by the X-Men to help him deal with his insanity. However, the X-Men unknowingly handed Deadpool over to Psycho-Man, a doctor that brainwashed patients to do his bidding and was planning on doing the same with Deadpool by stopping the voices in his head that were commanding him. That plan backfired. The voices inside of Deadpool's head were replaced with a new voice — one that was telling him he needed to kill everyone.
He kills a good chunk of the X-Men, the Avengers, The Punisher, The Fantastic Four, Dr Strange, even his idol and longtime friend, Spider-Man.
The last two pages of the comic involve Deadpool travelling through a portal to the alleged center of the universe, which is actually the writer's room where writers are mapping out the story for Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe. The comic ends with Deadpool telling the reader that he's about to kill the writing team and that he will find the reader soon.
7 There Is An Anthropomorphic Universe That Is Home To Spider-Ham
Comic books are supposed to be fun, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the people working at Marvel Comics love their jobs because of how much fun they're having. They have the freedom to create a number of crazy characters. One of these characters is the memorable Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham — a version of Spider-Man as a pig.
Spider-Ham first appeared in 1983 in a one-off humor comic book, Marvel Tails, created by Tom DeFalco and Mark Armstrong. He was later incorporated into a bi-monthly series, Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham that lasted 17 issues.
Spider-Ham exists on Larval Earth, a version of Earth where animals act as people. Some notable characters from the series include Captain Americat, Ducktor Doom, Hogzilla, The King-Pig, Deerdevil, Goose Rider, and Fantastic Fur.
6 There Is Only One Way To Achieve A Marvel Universe Utopia
Doctor Doom is a supervillain and archenemy of the Fantastic Four. As the second most powerful wizard on Earth, Doctor Doom is one of the most iconic Marvel characters to date because of his complexity.
Without going into too much detail, in Doomwar #3, written by Jonathan Maberry and drawn by Scot Eaton, Doctor Doom heads to a tiny country in Africa called Wakanda, ruled by the superhero Black Panther. Years ago, Wakanda was hit by a meteor containing vibranium, a metal stronger than adamantium (wolverine's skeleton) that is virtually impossible to break. Doctor Doom wants to obtain some of this Vibranium so that he can conquer the world, but, in order to do so, he needs to convince the Panther God (and guardian of the vault that holds the vibranium) that he has a pure heart. If you know need to know anything about Doctor Doom, it's that he's killed thousands of people. He sacrificed the love of his life so that he could be a more powerful wizard. You wouldn't exactly describe him as a pure hearted kind of guy.
Nonetheless, Doctor Doom tells the Panther God that his intentions for world domination are pure. Doctor Doom says:
"Ten thousand futures have I looked at. A hundred thousand. And in only one does mankind finally unite, and flourish... and survive. Only one. Doomworld."
The Panther God gives Doctor Doom access to the vibranium, and responds by saying:
I, too, have looked into the million pathways of the future. I, too, have seen the one path that leads to a world without evil, without hurt, without want. And though my own soul cries out in denial, I must act according to the truth."
The only way for there to be peace in the Marvel Universe is if Doctor Doom succeeds in becoming the grand tyrant of mankind (or so he thinks). He'll have to slaughter millions of people around Earth in the process. And, ironically, our friendly neighbourhood superheroes aren't going to let that happen. A Marvel Universe utopia may never be achieved!
5 The Damage Control Construction Company
With great power, comes great responsibility — and with great superhero battles comes a great big cleanup. It's been refreshing to see in movies such as Batman vs Superman that the actions of a superhero have an actual impact on the world around them. When a superhero makes a giant mess saving the world, someone has to be there to clean it up. Enter Damage Control.
Damage Control is a construction company in the Marvel Universe that specializes in repairing the damage caused by conflicts between superheroes and villains. The company was founded by Ann-Marie Hoag, and later owned by Tony Stark and Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin). Stark ended up selling his company stock, not wanting to be associated with a notorious criminal, and Fisk sold his stock in the company because he had no confidence the direction of the company was headed.
There have been four damage control limited series published, and the series was initially pitched by Dwayne McDuffie and Ernie Colon as a sitcom within the Marvel Universe.
It seems the people at Marvel have fleshed out every detail necessary to bring their world to life.
Believe it or not, you're already incredibly familiar with Earth-199999. The reality of Earth-199999 is the one that you see in the movie theater every year — it's the world that your favourite Marvel movies take place.
As you're already aware, Earth-199999 (aka the Marvel Cinematic Universe / MCU) is similar to our own world with a few twists, like, you know, the existence of superheroes. Additionally, Earth-199999 contains advanced technology, non-human races, and pretty much everything you need to live in the perfect science fiction reality.
With each new movie Marvel releases, the history of Earth-199999 changes. In the upcoming years we'll watch the MCU change as the plots of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War unfold in front of our eyes.
3 Weapon XVI
Weapon XVI, code name Allgod, was created as part of the Weapon Plus Super Sentinel Initiative. Unlike the other weapons as part of this program, Weapon XVI wasn't a superhuman and instead was a gas. This gas was compared to a living religion and thrived by preying on unsuspecting victims. These victims would become mind-controlled into followers of Allgod, and would do its bidding. But here's what's interesting: Weapon XVI was only able to gain control of people that believed in a deity of some sort. If you were an atheist, you would be unaffected by the gas.
Weapon XVI was kept hidden from the world, stored in a small cylinder hidden in The World (a self-contained research facility). Norman Osborn (aka The Green Goblin) heard rumours of the super weapons held in The World, and decided that he was going to make it his mission to obtain them. If it wasn't for two atheist heroes, Fantomex and Noh-Varr, every deity believing person on Earth would be succumb to Allgod's bidding! They even had to fight off a mind-controlled Wolverine in the process!
2 There is A "God" In The Marvel Universe
Though there are many gods scattered through the Marvel Universe such as Thor and Loki, there is one entity that is above everyone. Known as One-Above-All, this character is the creator of all life in all Marvel universes, and beyond that.
The One-Above-All has appeared a few times in the comic books. It has appeared to the Fantastic Four after Thing's death in one of the comic books. The One-Above-all, disguised as a homeless man, comforted a grieving Peter Parker as Aunt May was near death, and encouraged Parker to never lose faith.
Many characters allude to the One-Above-All, acknowledging that the character exists beyond time and space, is neither male nor female, and can restore entire realities that have been destroyed.
Even Thor was humbled by the power of the One-Above-All, saying:
"'tis said his power is supreme in all the Multiverse. Even I, son of one of the mightiest of all gods, find it impossible to conceive of such levels of power! And 'tis a humbling thought to consider how much greater the Creator of all Universes must be than that of all of His creations combined"
1 Civil War Was Completely Avoided In Another Dimension
Marvel's Civil War was a seven-issue limited series written by Mark Millar and drawn by Steve McNiven. It was also the title (and plot) of the most recent Captain America film.
If you haven't seen the film, it's a must-see for any fan of the marvel franchise. Without going into too much detail, the plot of Civil War is that the United States government passed the Superhero Registration Act, which was essentially designed to regulate the actions of superheroes. Iron Man (and others) supported the bill, saying that it's best if superheroes try to work with the government to improve their role in society. Iron Man believed that if he agreed to work with the government on this bill, he would prevent the government from passing an even more extreme bill in the future. Captain America (and others) decided that he loved freedom too much to agree to the Superhero Registration Act. And, so, the two sides of superheroes fought about the bill in a conflict known as Civil War.
So, could the whole thing have been avoided? In most realities, no. However, when the superhero Mister Fantastic was researching alternate realities to see how Civil War ended differently, he stumbled upon a reality where Tony Stark was actually a woman named Natasha Stark. In other words, Iron Man, was Iron Woman. In this reality (known as Earth-3490), Natasha Stark was married to Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America. The entire Civil War conflict was avoided because of their marriage!