Since the San Diego Comic-Con just ended, we decided that we should take a short break from our usual brand of… brand reviews. Instead of focusing on the type of logos we usually analyze, today we are going to focus on something more thematically appropriate – the Marvel logo.
With a history going back 77 years, the Marvel logo and brand have even gone through a number of name changes. Initially founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman, Marvel Entertainment has kept touching the lives of people from all walks of life over the years. This way, the company has acquired a worldwide loyal fan base.
The Marvel – DC rivalry has gone on for a very long time for a good reason – they both approach superheroes in totally different ways. While DC focuses more on the “super” part of superheroing, Marvel focuses more on the human part. This way, the Marvel logo and brand have created a loyal following, emotionally tied to the lives of their favorite, easily relatable heroes. To discover more superhero logos and their history, check out our articles dedicated to the Batman and Superman logos.
Marvel Logo Design Elements
Since it is a comic book company we are talking about, it’s to be expected for there to be a whole bunch of design elements that have been prominently featured throughout the history of the Marvel logo. From the blue, white, and red shield of Timely Comics, passing through the globe logo phase with Atlas, and finally settling on the white text on red font we all know today, the Marvel logos have had it all.
However, the three main meta elements of every logo remain the same regardless of a design’s history. These are the shape of the logo, the font present in the emblem, and, of course, the color scheme of the entire logo. All of these factors are influenced by society and by the logo design standards of the time.
The progression of the Marvel logo is very interesting to analyze, as it shows small hints of what was popular in several bygone eras. However, while we will talk for a bit about every Marvel Comics logo, we will only go into depth regarding the latest Marvel Studios logo change, the one announced during last weekend’s edition of San Diego Comic-Con.
Changes and Evolution
Back in 1939, in the Golden Age of comics, Marvel was founded under the name Timely Comics. It functioned under that name for eleven years, until 1950. Back then, the Marvel logo and brand weren’t even being considered. The Timely Comics logo consisted of a mostly blue coat of arms, striped white, and featuring a small, red rectangle containing the word “INC.”
By the time the 1950s rolled along, Timely Comics had become Atlas. The not-yet- Marvel Comics logo consisted of what a large number of mainstream companies had already started using in their logos, a globe. Still, seeing as the company’s name was named Atlas, and as the globe had a sash around it, the name fit pretty well.
It was only in 1957 that the Marvel logo and brand finally dropped other names and remained known only as Marvel Comics. Since then, the logo has changed a bunch of times. The first one featured a black circle on a red background, with the words “Marvel Comic” written in white, and with a golden wheat leaf inside the smaller red circle.
Next, the Marvel logo featured the simple work MARVEL written in a neat, comic-book font, surrounded by the emoting heads of various superheroes, such as Thor, Ironman, Captain America, Black Widow, and The Thing. Other characters, such as Wolverine, Hawkeye, or Ms. Marvel were not featured on it.
The next Marvel logo is probably the one most remembered by 90’s kids. Lasting from 1987 until 2002, this Marvel logo was featured on many a TV show, movie, T-shirt, wallpaper, and poster. It featured a red, stylized letter M, with the upper part of the letter forming the word “Marvel”. It also featured the word “Comics”, written in a very funky, edgy font.
Next came the logo we know today, the simple white Marvel text written on a red background. However, what many of you may have yet to find out is that there will be a new Marvel logo coming this year. The new Marvel logo was also joined by a new credits sequence and by a new fanfare composed by Michael Giacchino.
Since we obviously don’t have enough space to talk about all of the Marvel logos, we are going to focus on the most recent one – the one that hasn’t even been officially used on any property yet. The new Marvel Studios logo is similar to the one before it, with only a few tweaks here and there. It is pretty obvious from the start that logo was made to look modern, edgy, cool, and more impressive than the old one.
In fact, the main difference between the old Marvel logo and the new one is that the newer one moved the word “Studios” so that it is the same size as “Marvel”. The rectangular frame around “Marvel” and the parallel lines above and below “Studios” make for a very dynamic-looking logo.
One more thing of note is that the silver, chrome frame containing “Marvel” looks like it had the letters for the Marvel logo cut out of it, while the “Studios” part looks like it was cut out. This is most likely meant to transmit that while the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have stemmed from Marvel Comics, it has now become its own, equally successful entity.
The new colors of the Marvel Studios logo are red and silver. Aside from the fact that they are traditional superhero colors, each of the two is meant to evoke feelings when looked at; plus, while they do fit together very well, they are also meant to transmit something else than when taken separately.
First of all, red is traditionally used in superhero comics to depict the ultimate hero. Heroes who have the moral high ground, who will always sacrifice themselves for the better of others, will most often wear red (see Spiderman, Superman, etc.). It is also a very energetic color, able to make people hungry, to elevate blood pressure, and to grip the public’s attention.
Meanwhile, the silver chrome color now present in the Marvel logo is often associated with novelty, modernism, high-tech, sleekness, as well as with grace, sophistication, glamor, and elegance. It is meant to say that while the MCU may be something relatively new when compared to the comics, it is still its own modern, elegant, and proud company.
The Marvel logo font is one meant to transmit that the company is unique, modern, and professional, as well as trendy, attractive, and compelling. It is meant to draw in fans of the old stories and characters, as well as to get new potential fans interested in the universe.
And so far, it is doing a far better job to promote Marvel lineups such as the Avengers, the Marvel Knights, the Defenders, and others than other commercially tied-in sources such as Marvel Legends or Marvel vs. Capcom.
Inspiration and Trivia
While the DC – Marvel rivalry might seem like something new and exciting to fresh fans of the company, the truth is that it goes back a long time. However, while the two sides might seem irreconcilable now, they actually had a crossover event at one point.
Some of the heroes and villains actually fused together, giving birth to such epic characters as Dark Claw (Wolverine x Batman), Doctor Doomsday (Doctor Doom x Doomsday), Skulk (Hulk x Solomon Grundy), Spider-Boy (Spiderman x Superboy), Super-Soldier (Captain America x Superman), Doctor StrangeFate (Charles Xavier x Doctor Strange x Doctor Fate).
While Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko are indeed credited with creating most of the Marvel characters we all know and love today, it is commonly accepted, yet overlooked, that some of those characters were stolen, while the actual creators saw no revenue from their success (similar to what happened to the Superman creators).
One of the most famous and successful entertainment companies in the world, Marvel is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon. The Marvel logo and brand have a history of more than 75 years, over the course of which they have gathered a hugely loyal fan base. We hope you have enjoyed today’s article, and until next time, hail Hydra!