Established - 1939
Marvel Comics began life as "Timely Publications" in 1939, with comic books featuring Captain America, Namor the Sub-Mariner and an early version of the Human Torch. Legendary comics writer Stan Lee was hired as an office assistant in 1939. Within two years, the 19-year-old Lee was promoted to editor of the Marvel Comics line, a post that he would keep until 1972.
Everything changed in 1961, when Lee and artist Jack Kirby created The Fantastic Four -- a new style of superhero comic that focused on the characters' internal drama as well as their heroic adventures. The style was a huge success, and the Lee/Kirby team went on to create the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Mighty Thor and the X-Men. The prolific Lee worked with artist Steve Ditko to create Marvel's greatest success story, Spider-Man. Stan Lee's Marvel revolution extended beyond the characters and storylines to the way in which comic books engaged the readership and built a sense of community between fans and creators.
Today, Marvel's heroes are blockbuster stars on the silver screen, with Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men and the Hulk becoming regular features of the summer movie season.