Marvel Comics is one of the major publishing companies producing comic book properties today, rivaled primarily by DC Comics. Founded by Martin Goodman in 1939, five years after the establishment of DC, the company was initially known as Timely Comics, and later Atlas. By 1961, however, following experimentation with science fiction and funny animal characters, the line was relaunched as Marvel (taking its name from one of their earliest comic titles), and re-focused on superheroes. The company soon became DC's most notable rival, with such properties as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men, all of which, like their DC counterparts, have been adapted into animation, films, television, and video games.
In 1974, following the debut of Spider-Man on The Electric Company, Marvel Comics teamed up with the Children's Televisions Workshop to launch Spidey Super Stories. Aimed at younger readers, the series featured Spider-Man, his friends and foes, as well as guest appearances by other heroes, all mingling with Electric Company characters such as Rita the director, Easy Reader, and Fargo North, Decoder.
- Mr. Hooper appears in Spidey Super Stories #9 ("Guess What's Coming to Dinner")
- Sam the Robot (referred to as "Sam the Sesame Street Robot") appears in issue #31 in a Star Wars parody titled "Star Jaws". Filling the functions of R2-D2 and C-3PO, Sam seeks Spider-Man's help to rescue Moon Dragon and save the Earth from Dr. Doom.
Between 1982 and 1986, Marvel Comics published three adaptations of Jim Henson feature films, The Dark Crystal, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and Labyrinth. All three debuted as 68 page adaptations in Marvel Super Special, an anthology series which specialized in adapting movie and TV properties, and were later re-printed in individual issues. All three utilized the talents of Marvel's regular artist roster, including John Buscema (veteran of Conan the Barbarian and The Avengers) on Labyrinth.
- The Muppets Take Manhattan - Marvel Super Special # 32, August 1984; November 1984 - January 1985, three issues.
- The Muppets Take Manhattan adaptation was also featured in Marvel's news magazine, Marvel Age, in August 1984 (issue #17). The Muppet cast appeared on the cover alongside the comic's mascot, Forbush Man.
One of Marvel's imprints, Star Comics, launched in 1984, specialized in cartoon characters and other children's properties. The Star line reprinted the Muppets Take Manhattan mini-series, and in 1985, launched regular Fraggle Rock and Muppet Babies comic book series. In 1988, beginning with issue 17, Muppet Babies was published under the regular Marvel label, and the 8 Fraggle Rock issues were likewise reprinted under the label.
In 2011, Disney gave Marvel the right to make its comics. Marvel began reprinting a number of Muppet Show Comic Book titles in 2011, and has reprinted Meet the Muppets, Family Reunion, and The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson. Starting on July 4, 2012, Marvel published the previously-unreleased The Four Seasons storyarc.
- In Sledge Hammer #1 (an adaptation of the TV series), a woman watches a Hitchcock festival on TV, featuring Laura Hitchcock's I Was a Teenage Muppet Baby (referring to one of the primary writers for the comic book series). Dialogue from the movies is seen in speech bubbles, detailing a woman's shock at seeing her boyfriend transformed into a frog. He also introduces her to his best friend, a bear.
- In Marvel Team-Up #74, Peter Parker (alias Spider-Man) and Mary Jane Watson attend a taping of Saturday Night Live, sitting behind two old men (seen only from the back) named Statler and Waldorf.
- In Marvel Zombies 4 #1, Zombie Deadpool's head sings part of "Movin' Right Along" from The Muppet Movie.
- In Marvel Premiere #50, The Hulk is holding Kermit the Frog, who is saying "It's not easy being green, right?"
- In Ultimate Spider Man #1 Miles Morales has Kermit the Frog Wallpaper.
- In Spidey Super Stories #7 ("Spidey Jumps the Thumper"), a man asks The Thumper "Can You tell me how to get to Sesame Street?" before getting bopped on the head.
- In Spidey Super Stories #9 ("Guess What's Coming to Dinner"), the Hulk laments "It isn't easy being green".
- In Spidey Super Stories #21 ("The Uninvited"), J. Arthur Crank briefly sings "Rubber Duckie" while taking a bath.
- In Spidey Super Stories (issue unknown), a villain asks Spider-Man who he is, to which Spider-Man answers: "I'll give you a hint: I sure ain't Big Bird!"
- In the book and record version of The Muppets Take Manhattan, a photo shows Scooter's bus locker, which he has personalized with sports banners and an issue of Ghost Rider, among other items.
- In a Sesame Street News Flash segment, Kermit interviews Telly and Mona at a daycare center, standing in front of pictures of Marvel heroes Thor and Captain America.
- Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony episode 24 spoofed the X-Men movie franchise, showing a group of mutants who failed the auditions, including The Blimp, The Invisible Twins, and Beaverine
- In a variant cover to The Muppet Show Comic Book: Family Reunion #7, the Muppets are seen wearing costumes similar to Captain America and Thor, as well as several DC Comics characters.
- In Sesame Street episode 4218, Telly Monster, Abby Cadabby, and Elmo pretend to be the "Furry Four", a parody of the Fantastic Four.
- Sam the Eagle appeared as Captain America in a 2011 parody poster.
- In a web video with Kermit and Piggy for Entertainment Weekly, Walter wore a Captain America t-shirt and kept asking if the publishers had an advanced screening of The Avengers.
For more references, connections, appearances, or mentions, see the following pages:
Many actors and other crew members have worked on both Muppet/Henson projects and Marvel Comics adaptations.
- Cynthia Adler played Sue Storm and all female roles on The Fantastic Four (1975 radio series)
- Jessica Alba played Sue Storm in The Fantastic Four (2005 film) and The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007 film)
- Ned Beatty played Sam Kolawetz in Captain America (1990 film)
- Halle Berry played Storm in X-Men (2000 film), X2 (2003 film), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006 film), and the upcoming film X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014 film)
- Jeff Bridges played Obadiah Stane in Iron Man (2008 film)
- Pat Crawford Brown played a sweet old lady in Daredevil (2003 film)
- George Buza played Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast on X-Men (animated series, 1992-1997) and related video games, and a trucker in X-Men (2000 film)
- Don Cheadle played James Rhodes in Iron Man 2 (2010), and Iron Man 3 (2013)
- Lyle Conway played Reichardt in Blade (1998 film)
- Alyson Court played Jubilee on X-Men (animated series, 1992-1997)
- Alan Cumming played Nightcrawler in X2 (2003 film)
- Cal Dodd played Wolverine on X-Men (animated series, 1992-1997) and related video games
- Michael Clarke Duncan played Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin in Daredevil (2003 film)
- Robert Downey Jr. played Tony Stark/Iron Man in Iron Man (2008 film), Hulk (2008 film), Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), and the upcoming film The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Shalom M. Fisch has written issues of several different Marvel Comics, including Marvel Comics Presents and Spider-Man Holiday Special
- Jason Flemyng played Azazel in X-Men: First Class (2011)
- Matt Frewer played Russell Trask in Generation X' (1996 TV movie)
- Jennifer Garner played Elektra Natchios in Dardevil (2003 film) and Elektra (2005 film)
- Kelsey Grammer played Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006 film)
- Mark Hamill played Maximus the Mad and others on the animated Fantastic Four (1994-1996), the Red Skull on The Super Hero Squad Show (2009-2011), and Ulysses Klaw on Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2010-2012)
- Tom Hiddleston played Loki in Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), and Thor: The Dark World (2013)
- Hugh Jackman played Wolverine in the X-Men films (2000-)
- Samuel L. Jackson played Nick Fury in Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avengers (2011), The Avengers (2012), and the upcoming films Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), and The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Danny John-Jules played Asad in Blade II (2002 film)
- Toby Jones played Arnim Zola in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Udo Kier played Dragonetti in Blade (1998)
- Kris Kristofferson played Whistler in Blade (1998 film), Blade II (2002 film) and Blade: Trinity (2004 film)
- Stan Lee created several characters for Marvel and has made cameo appearances in several films based on the comics
- Zachary Levi played Fandral in Thor: The Dark World
- Rob Paulsen played Baron Strucker and Werewolf by Night on The Super Hero Squad Show (2009-2011)
- Oliver Platt played the man in the black suit in X-Men: First Class (2011)
- Natalie Portman played Jane Foster in Thor (2011), and Thor: The Dark World (2013)
- Sam Rockwell played Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2 (2010)
- Mark Ruffalo played Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), and the upcoming film The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Garry Shandling played Senator Stern in Iron Man 2 (2010)
- Cobie Smulders played Maria Hill in The Avengers (2012), the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), and The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Harry Dean Stanton played a Security Guard in The Avengers (2012)
- John Stephenson played Dr. Doom on The Fantastic Four (1978 animated series)
- Patrick Stewart played Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men (2000 film), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), The Wolverine (2013), and the upcoming film X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
- John Stocker played Greydon Creed Jr. and others on X-Men (animated series, 1992-1997) and Ultron on Avengers (1999 animated series)
- Tara Strong plays Sue Storm/Invisible Woman, Scarlet Witch, H.E.R.B.I.E. and others on The Super Hero Squad Show (2009-2011)
- Joel Tobeck played a redneck in Ghost Rider (2007 film)
- Lani John Tupu played Laccone in The Punisher (1989 film)
- John Vernon played Tony Stark/Iron Man and Namor the Sub-Mariner in The Marvel Super Heroes (1966 animated series)
- Jessica Walter played Morgan LeFay in Dr. Strange (1978 TV movie)
- Hugo Weaving played Johann Schmidt/Red Skull in Captain America: First Avenger (2011 film)
- Frank Welker played H.E.R.B.I.E. on The Fantastic Four (1978 animated series)
- ↑ A.J. Hays and J. Mishkin, Eds. Spidey Super Stories, Vol. 1, No. 31, Marvel Comics Group, New York, NY: February, 1978.
- ↑ "Kermit, Walter, and Miss Piggy play hardball" by Jeff Labrecque, Mar 20 2012, Entertainment Weekly