Walt Disney Co said on Monday it will buy Marvel Entertainment Inc for $4 billion, striking the biggest media deal of the year.
Here are some key facts about Marvel:
* The company has a library of more than 5,000 characters and has been publishing comic books since 1939.
* Marvel has more than a 40 percent market share in comics, graphic novels and magazine publishing, according to a spokesman.
* Its stable of superheroes include Iron Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and its first blockbuster character, Captain America.
* Spider-Man, whose theatrical rights have been licensed to Sony Pictures, is considered the company's most popular character.
* Many of its characters were created by comic book legends Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
* Marvel enjoyed blockbuster success with "Iron Man," its first self-produced film. Distributed by Viacom's Paramount Pictures and released in 2008, the movie pulled in the second-biggest non-sequel box office opening in history.
* It is currently working on "Iron Man 2," a sequel set for release in 2010.
* Marvel's shares soared in August when it posted a second-quarterly profit that beat market estimates, boosted by DVD and pay TV sales of blockbuster "Iron Man."
* Marvel posted $676 million in revenue in 2008, up 39 percent from $486 million in revenue in 2007.
* The company had $221 million in net profit in 2008, up about 35 percent from $164 million in 2007.
* The company had $938 million in total assets at the end of 2008.
* For 2009, Marvel forecast earnings of $1.25 a share to $1.35 a share, on revenue of $465 million to $485 million.
* The company is headquartered in New York City but has corporate offices in London and Manhattan Beach, California. It has about 300 employees.
* Total market capitalization reached more than $3 billion in 2009.
* Before the deal with Disney, 2009 had been a lull for Marvel as it is not releasing any films of its own this year.
* Upcoming projects include: "Thor" and the first "Avenger" movie, as well as Sony-produced "Spider-Man 4" slated for a 2011 release. The "Avengers" sequel will follow in 2012.
* Marvel's primary competitor is DC Comics, the company behind the "Watchmen" characters. DC Comics is a subsidiary of Warner Bros, which is owned by Time Warner Inc.
* It operates three divisions: licensing, film production through Marvel Studios, Marvel Animation and publishing via Marvel Comics.
* Marvel has a monthly circulation of more than 4.1 million.