Marvel started in 1939 as Timely Comics, and by the early 1950s, had generally become known as Atlas Comics. The Marvel era began in 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and many others. The Marvel brand had been used over the years, but solidified as the company's only brand with in a couple of years.
Marvel counts among its characters such well-known superheroes as Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Wolverine, the Silver Surfer, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, the Punisher and Deadpool, such teams as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Midnight Sons, the Defenders, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, and supervillains including Galactus, Thanos, Doctor Doom, Magneto, Ultron, Green Goblin, Red Skull, Loki, Doctor Octopus and Venom. Most of Marvel's fictional characters operate in a single reality known as the Marvel Universe, with most locations mirroring real-life places; many major characters are based in New York City.