The comic book world can feel like the Wild West, especially in past decades when corporations had yet to claw their way in and writers and artists reigned supreme — although they were rarely paid. That means a lot of crazy stories came from companies like Marvel Comics where logic often failed, petty fighting was the norm, and truly original work was being created. Here are 10 lies you’ve been told about the Marvel Universe.
1. Captain Marvel was kept as a character because of a rights dispute
Movie studios like Fox and Sony have drawn the ire of Marvel fans for years now because of their habit of pumping out sequels and reboots to retain character rights, but the truth is that there’s been a massive rights war between Marvel and DC since the dawn of comics. For proof, look no further than Marvel’s Captain Marvel.
Comics Alliance gives a detailed explanation about how the fight started, but essentially when DC won a lawsuit over a Captain Marvel character from Fawcett Comics that bore a strong resemblance to Superman, Marvel swooped in to acquire the rights to Captain Marvel. But when DC later came looking for the rights to the character after deciding to revive the superhero, Marvel was forced to start creating Captain Marvel comics — something it hadn’t yet done — or lose ownership.
In the following decades the character appeared in various forms, not to mention genders, every couple of years which were nearly always terribly received and an obvious ploy to retain rights. It wasn’t until 2008 that the current iteration of Captain Marvel and Carol Danvers arrived on the scene to strong acclaim that the character gained any popularity. And this is the version that will appear in the upcoming Captain Marvel film.
2. Nicolas Cage’s name is inspired by Luke Cage
Okay, so this is more of a lie you’ve been told about Nicolas Cage, but it involves Marvel enough to be included in this list. Many people still don’t know that Nicolas Cage isn’t the name the actor was born with. In fact, his real name is Nicolas Kim Coppola and he is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola — which is the reason he decided to choose a stage name to avoid accusations of nepotism. But an even less known fact is that when it came figuring out a new last name, he took inspiration from one of his favorite superheroes: Luke Cage. Given his history, it would be great to see Cage somehow pop up in the new Netflix series this fall.
3. Venom was created because readers hated Spider-Man’s new costume
There’s a chance we wouldn’t have Venom today if fans didn’t complain about Spider-Man’s new black suit in the early ’80s. The idea for the black Spider-Man costume was notably purchased through a contest for $220 from Randy Schueller, but fans were upset about the change in the character’s appearance enough for Marvel to reverse course and find a way to have Spider-Man remove it. This would of course lead to the Symbiote finding its way to Eddie Brock, creating Venom who has remained one of Marvel’s most popular anti-heroes.
4. Damage Control is the team Marvel needs
Ever wonder how the cities decimated by the Avengers get back to normal for the next film or comic? Well, it isn’t just movie magic — in the world of Marvel there is actually a construction team named Damage Control that is specifically tasked with doing just that. The comics are of course tongue-in-cheek given their content, but it doesn’t change the fact that Damage Control actually solves an important issue within the superhero universe. In fact, there are currently rumblings of an ABC and Marvel series about Damage Control, so keep an eye out.
5. Hulk only became a member of the Avengers again with the movie
If you haven’t delved into comics much, you might think Hulk was a longstanding member of the Avengers due to what you saw in the movies. But while Hulk was a member of the team in the very first comic issue, he immediately quit and was not a central member again until the Marvel films came along.
6. Dr. Doom dropped out of college
In one of the biggest lies in all the Marvel Universe, Dr. Doom should probably be called Mr. Doom. While Victor Von Doom attended college, he was expelled before graduation, meaning he’s either lying about his education or he got it through some kind of online course. But let’s be honest here: Dr. Doom sounds way cooler than Mr. Doom, which is surely why it stuck.
7. Sub-Mariner, not Superman, was the first flying superhero
It seems like a given that Superman was the first superhero to have the power of flight, but it was in fact Marvel’s half-human, half-Atlantean superhero Sub-Mariner who was the first to fly while Superman could still only leap tall buildings. Even more interesting is the fact that Sub-Mariner might represent Marvel’s first foray into mutants as his flying ability is shared by neither his human or Atlantean genetic sides.
8. Hulk used to be grey
It’s easy to assume that Hulk’s famous green color comes from a conscious choice due to his gamma radiation inception. In fact, the reasoning is entirely practical: it was easier to print. Stan Lee originally wanted Hulk to be a color that wouldn’t suggest any ethnic stereotypes, deciding that his color would be grey. However, the printer could not handle the different shades of grey necessary resulting in inconsistencies from one page to the next. So rather than try and fight the printer, they decided to recolor him green and it’s stuck (mostly) ever since.
9. Spider-Man with a dash
Is it Spider-Man or Spiderman? Look online and you’ll see plenty of examples of both — and truthfully, it feels mostly interchangeable at this point. But at the time of Spider-Man’s creation, it was a conscious decision to include the dash because it lessened the chance of the name being confused with Superman at a glance.
10. All X-Men characters are “non-human”
Yes, in a move Marvel made to save money they ironically labeled their team of characters fighting for equal rights as inhuman. The story revolves around Marvel’s X-Men action-figure line and the ways toys — specifically action-figures — are taxed. For whatever reason, toys that are representations of people are taxed at a higher rate than toys that aren’t. So Marvel somehow found a way to argue that because the X-Men are mutants and “non-humans” they were eligible for the lower tax bracket — and they won. But you can’t help but feel they sold their X-Men characters down the river.
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