The buzz generated the Ant Man film has already been reduced to a gentle whisper now and there’s not a lot of news coming from the MCU, but don’t take that to mean that people have already forgotten about the company – they still have a lot of video game and comic book stuff going on and they’re firmly entrenched in people’s collective consciousness. However, despite the huge interest people have in Marvel, there are a few nifty bits of trivia that are not commonly known about the company. Here are 5 of them:
#5 They Created Sauron Because Werewolves Are Not Allowed
One of the X-Men’s underrated regular foes, Sauron, is basically a werepterodactyl from Savage Land. The real inspiration behind the character is up for debate, but it is said that he was one of the many quasi-werewolf characters that Marvel created in order to get around the Comics Code Authority’s ban on werewolves, which is done in order to discourage the horror genre from comic books.
Marvel didn’t have to wait too long to actually get a werewolf character going, because the code was revised in 1971 and werewolves were allowed in comic book stories provided that they remain easily recognizable as related to classic gothic literature’s takes on the character. Marvel basically reacted like a kid who’s been given unlimited access to the candy store.
#4 They Had a Big Hand in Transformers’ Western Presence
Back in the 80s, toy manufacturer Hasbro bought a toyline about robots that disguise themselves as vehicles from Japanese company Takara. Hasbro wanted to repackage the property for the Western audience, so they approached then Marvel EIC Jim Shooter and writers Denny O’Neil and Bob Budiansky for ideas. O’Neil proposed the name Optimus Prime while Budiansky came up with Megatron. Shooter, on the other hand, drafted an 8 page treatment detailing the backstory behind the Decepticons and the Autobots, as well as a few brief breakdown of several characters’ personality traits and moral alignments.
#3 Marvel Almost Didn’t Exist Because of the Hindenburg Airship
Back in 1937, a man and his wife were returning from a honeymoon in Europe. They originally planned to ride on the exciting new Hindenburg airship, but the man bought tickets too late and weren’t able to secure two seats next to each other, so they decided to take a plane instead. Then the infamous Hindenburg airship disaster happened, killing 35 out of the 97 people onboard.
The man’s name was Martin Goodman. He made it back from his honeymoon and founded Timely Comis in the same year. When the 50s rolled around, Timely Comics became Atlas Comics, which eventually became Marvel Comics in 1961.
#2 They Killed Nixon In One of Their Comics
U.S. Presidents appearing in comic books is nothing new. Marvel had everyone from Lincoln to Bush, to Jimmy Carter and even Obama appear in the pages of their comic books. But what’s unique about Marvel is that they actually had one U.S. President depicted as committing suicide: Nixon.
Granted that Nixon isn’t exactly loved at that time, but it was still a gutsy move, which might be the reason why the identity was made ambiguous – the incident occurred in Captain America No. 175 (1975), which had Cap hunting down a corrupt top government official who’s planning to enslave the entire country. His investigations led him straight to the White House, but the villain chose to end his own life using a gun off-panel. The face was never shown, but writer Steve Englehart eventually confirmed the identity with the statement “Cap followed a criminal conspiracy into the White House and saw the President commit suicide.”
#1 They Used to Own the Trademark for the Word “Zombie.”
It’s common knowledge that Marvel and DC co-own the trademark to the term Super hero, but what is not common knowledge is that Marvel once held the trademark rights to the term “zombie” as well.
Marvel originally applied for the trademark for use in comic books back in 1973, after successfully publishing Tale of the Zombie. It took a couple of years, but their application was accepted. It was a little bit too late, of course, because Tale of the Zombie was already on the chopping block by that point.
Marvel owned the trademark for the term until 1996, which is the time they found out that it was hard to enforce due to the pervasiveness of the term in popular culture. They had much better success with the series Marvel Zombies, the title of which they registered with a note stating “no claim is made to the exclusive right to use zombies.”