The Marvel Universe is a fictional universe where the stories in most American comic book titles and other media published by Marvel Comics take place. Super-teams such as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and many Marvel superheroes live in this universe, including characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Captain America, Wolverine, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Captain Marvel and Deadpool, among numerous others. It also contains well-known supervillains such as Doctor Doom, Magneto, Ultron, Thanos, Loki, Green Goblin, Kang the Conqueror, Kingpin, Doctor Octopus and Venom.

The Marvel Universe is further depicted as existing within a “multiverse” consisting of thousands of separate universes, all of which are the creations of Marvel Comics and all of which are, in a sense, “Marvel universes”. In this context, “Marvel Universe” is taken to refer to the mainstream Marvel continuity, which is known as Earth-616 or currently as Prime Earth.

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The Marvel Universe is a fictional universe where the stories in most American comic book titles and other media published by Marvel Comics take place. Super-teams such as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and many Marvel superheroes live in this universe, including characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Captain America, Wolverine, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Captain Marvel and Deadpool, among numerous others. It also contains well-known supervillains such as Doctor Doom, Magneto, Ultron, Thanos, Loki, Green Goblin, Kang the Conqueror, Kingpin, Doctor Octopus and Venom.The Marvel Universe is further depicted as existing within a “multiverse” consisting of thousands of separate universes, all of which are the creations of Marvel Comics and all of which are, in a sense, “Marvel universes”. In this context, “Marvel Universe” is taken to refer to the mainstream Marvel continuity, which is known as Earth-616 or currently as Prime Earth.

Though the concept of a shared universe was not new or unique to comic books in 1961, writer/editor Stan Lee, together with several artists including Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, created a series of titles where events in one book would have repercussions in another title and serialized stories would show characters’ growth and change. Headline characters in one title would make cameos or guest appearances in other books. Eventually, many of the leading heroes (Ant-Man, Wasp, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk) assembled into a team known as the Avengers, which debuted in September 1963. This was not the first time that Marvel’s characters had interacted with one another—Namor the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch had been rivals when Marvel was Timely Comics (Marvel Vault), under editor Martin Goodman — but it was the first time that the comic book publisher’s characters seemed to share a world. The Marvel Universe was also notable for setting its central titles in New York City; by contrast, many DC heroes live in fictional cities. Care was taken to portray the city and the world as realistically as possible, with the presence of superhumans affecting the common citizens in various ways.

Over time, a few Marvel Comics writers lobbied Marvel editors to incorporate the idea of a Multiverse resembling DC’s parallel worlds; this plot device allows one to create several fictional universes which normally do not overlap. What happens on Earth in the main Marvel Universe would normally not affect what happens on a parallel Earth in another Marvel-created universe. However, writers would have the creative ability to write stories in which people from one such universe would visit this alternative universe.

In 1982, Marvel published the miniseries Contest of Champions, in which all of the major heroes in existence at the time were gathered together to deal with one threat. This was Marvel’s first miniseries. Each issue contained biographical information on many major costumed characters; these biographies were a precursor to Marvel’s series of reference material, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, which followed shortly on the heels of Contest of Champions.