Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American publisher of comic books and related media. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Worldwide's parent company.
Marvel started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the early 1950s had generally become known as Atlas Comics. Marvel's modern incarnation dates from 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and many others.
Marvel counts among its characters such well-known properties as Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, the Silver Surfer, and the Avengers and antagonists such as the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Magneto, Doctor Doom, Loki, Galactus, Thanos, and the Red Skull. Most of Marvel's fictional characters operate in a single reality known as the Marvel Universe, with locations that mirror real-life cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.