For over half a century, Marvel has been unsurpassed for the sheer imagination that it has brought comics, movies and even computer games. And whilst much of the credit for the creative offerings must lie with imaginative geniuses such as Steve Ditko, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Marvel has sometimes drawn inspiration from further afield.
One of the most surprising news stories in recent years was the revival of the 1960s character Flash Thompson. In a startling revamp, the character was transformed from the schoolboy bully into an embittered Gulf War veteran who becomes plagued by alcoholism and eventually is transformed into Agent Venom.
However, few Marvel fans will realise that the inspiration for such a change was found in the real-life story of a US army paratrooper. The retired army staff sergeant Dan Nevins lost both legs in the conflict, but in the Marvel series he was recast as Thompson who became able to grow a pair of legs thanks to the Venom symbiote.
Interestingly, the character recently found a new lease of life in the Marvel: Avengers Assemble Facebook game that features alongside a huge range of Marvel gaming titles.
These even include the likes of a Marvel-themed slots game at the Betway site which features alongside many games of roulette, blackjack and poker. And Flash Thompson fans can click here to play slots online and see when this transformative character might make his next gaming appearance.
But it’s not just gaming that has benefited from the influence of Marvel, as many of the world’s top hip-hop stars have repeatedly mentioned the brand as a formative influence. And earlier this month it looked like Marvel sought to honour the cultural significance of hip-hop through recreating many famous rap album covers that feature some of their comic book creations.
The 32 page book includes Marvel versions of hip-hop album covers by recording artists such as Snoop Dogg and Wu Tang Clan, and will undoubtedly do much to strengthen the link between rap music and this iconic comic book brand.
And just before the highly-anticipated release of Deadpool comes the sobering thought that some over-enthusiastic Cosplay participants have been endeavouring to create their own Deadpool lingerie.
Thankfully the legal team at Marvel quickly clamped-down on such bizarre fashion creations, although such examples of comic book-inspired erotica could signal troubling times in the future.
So from hip-hop comic book heroes, to antiheroes appearing in online games, to villainous underwear, it seems like Marvel’s universe is endlessly expanding.