Marvel, formerly known as Marvel Entertainment LLC, is an American entertainment company based in New York City that is best known for its comic books and film, TV, and video game franchises. The Marvel we know today is the result of a merger between toy subsidiary Toy Biz (now Marvel Toys) and Marvel Entertainment Group.
The precursor to Marvel was founded as Timely Comics in 1939 by magazine publisher Martin Goodman.
Superhero comic books were near peak popularity at the time, with the so-called “Golden Age” of the 1940s introducing characters like Captain America who often featured in stories related to the war effort.
With the war over, however, interest in superhero comics declined and Goodman decided to stop producing them in 1950.
He then started a distribution company called Atlas Magazines which stuck to more popular genres such as westerns, horror, and science fiction.
Marvel and DC Comics
Goodman changed the name of his company to Marvel in 1961, but not before main rival DC Comics ushered in the “Silver Age” of comics in the late 1950s.
The latter found commercial success by reintroducing superhero stories and both Marvel and DC become industry leaders.
In the 80s and 90s, Marvel changed hands several times and again found itself facing a slump comic book sales.
Nevertheless, the company did enjoy some success by diversifying into trading cards and creating its own line of action figures. It also started to sell advertising space in its comics and signed its first movie deals.
The uptick in sales was short-lived, however, and the company found itself drowning in debt from its various purchases and endeavors.
Marvel filed for bankruptcy in 1996 which was followed by a heated and public battle over control of the company.
The court then appointed American financier Carl Icahn as trustee in 1997.
Further conflict ensued, but Icahn was ultimately convinced to a reorganization plan in which Marvel would be acquired by Toy Biz.
At the time, Toy Biz was not a subsidiary of Marvel but an independent company Marvel consulted to develop its action figures.
Marvel emerged from bankruptcy in 1998 as a new and revitalized company known as Marvel Enterprises.
It sold off underperforming and non-core assets and eventually agreed to allow Sony Pictures to develop the Spider-Man series of films.
The company then became Marvel Entertainment in 2005 to reflect a strategic focus on film, TV, and video games. Multiple successful franchises followed for an increasingly broad demographic of consumers.
Who owns Marvel today?
Disney purchased Marvel in 2009 for $4 billion and immediately obtained access to the company’s long list of super heroes including Spider-Man and Iron Man.
The company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange thereafter but continues in its current capacity today.
- Marvel, formerly known as Marvel Entertainment LLC, is an American entertainment company based in New York City that is best known for its comic books and film, TV, and video game franchises.
- The precursor to Marvel was founded as Timely Comics in 1939 by magazine publisher Martin Goodman. Superhero comic books were near peak popularity at the time but interest declined in the late 40s after the war. Interest started to pick up once more in the late 50s thanks to rival DC Comics.
- In the 80s and 90s, Marvel changed hands several times and it experienced a slump in comic book sales. Despite some success, the company declared bankruptcy in 1996 before emerging revitalized in 1998. Marvel then became known as Marvel Entertainment to reflect its focus on film, television, and video games – a strategy that no doubt contributed to its success and longevity today.