Super hero origins: from comics to the silver screen

Aaron Blossom

Captain America. Wolverine. Spider-Man. These are just a few of the many popular characters in the Marvel Comics universe who have recently become movie stars.

Martin Goodman founded Timely Comics in 1939, which eventually became Marvel Comics. It has become one of the largest American comic companies, along with rival DC Comics. By the 1950s, Timely Comics changed to Atlas Comics, but after waning interest in Atlas Comics stories, the company tried to revive superheroes in the Marvel style. After seeing the success that fellow DC Comics was having with superheroes, more changes followed. Changing the name for a final time to Marvel Comics, editor and writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby teamed up to create history.

Timely Comics’ first publication was Marvel Comics No. 1 in Oct. 1939, in which The Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner first appeared.

However, The Human Torch introduced then is not the same character as more widely known today. Along with Captain America, these three superheroes became the founding characters for Timely Comics. According to “Marvel: the Characters and Their Universe,” all three characters would take on a different role in later years. For instance, The Human Torch would later be modified to become the identity of Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four.

Captain America

Timely Comics acquired its first true editor in writer-artist Joe Simon, who teamed up with fellow writer-artist,Jack Kirby. Marvel said both Simon and Kirby were repulsed by the actions of Nazi Germany before the involvement of the United States in World War II. Simon would later say, “The opponents to the war were all quite well organized. We wanted to have our say too.” Thus, Captain America was a political creation, born out of the turmoil of the second world war.

Captain America first appeared in Captain America Comics No. 1 in March 1941, which went on sale in December 1940, a year before Pearl Harbor, and showed Captain America punching Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the mouth. The issue sold nearly 1 million copies upon its release. Steve Rogers is the man behind the mask of Captain America. Rogers was originally a weak, sickly young man who was recruited by the United States Government to test their new super-soldier serum. After taking the serum, Rogers was no longer ill and turned into an enhanced, super-human.

Captain America became a household name as he battled the Axis powers and arch-nemesis Red Skull. However, by the end of World War II, people seemed to lose interest in Captain America. The character seemingly disappeared during the 1950s, later to be reintroduced in The Avengers No. 4. After years of suspended animation, the superhero team called the Avengers revived Captain America. Since his revival, Captain America has led the Avengers on several occasions, as well as returning to his own series of stories.

In 2006, a Civil War broke out in the Marvel Universe pitting superhero against superhero over those with special abilities having to register with their respective governments. Captain America was a proponent against the idea of registration. In the end, Captain America called a cease-fire to the war so no innocent life would be lost. But he was assassinated on his way to trial. Captain America lives on as Steve Roger’s sidekick, Bucky took on the mantle.


In “The Marvel Encyclopedia,” Wolverine was created by Marvel writer Len Wein, Marvel art director John Romita, Sr. and Herb Trimpe. Wolverine first appeared in Incredible Hulk No. 180 in Oct. 1974. Since his creation, several artists and writers have contributed to the back-story of Wolverine, even famed graphic novelist Frank Miller, who also produced “Watchmen,” “300” and “Sin City.”

Born James Howlett, but more commonly known as Logan, Wolverine always had a loner mentality. He was born in the late 19th century in Alberta, Canada. Wolverine is truly the first Canadian superhero to become popular in the comic book world.

According to “The Best of Wolverine, Vol. 1,” little is known about this unique superhero. An anti-authority character, Wolverine is a mutant with the ability to heal, which also slows down his life cycle, and he possesses superhuman senses and traits. Logan was “recruited” into the Weapon X program in which Adamantium, an indestructible metal alloy, was grafted to his skeleton. While participating in the Weapon X program, Logan was given false memories, so it is difficult for him to know what is real and what is false.

Logan joined Department H of the Canadian Government, taking the name Wolverine and joining Alpha Flight. Wolverine was dispatched to stop the Incredible Hulk for his first assignment. Charles Xavier approached Wolverine not long after the incident against the Hulk and asked him to join the X-Men. Wolverine acquired many enemies after he joined the X-Men, as well as several encounters with arch-nemesis Victor Creed, better known as Sabertooth.