Hi all, Marvel’s VP of Web and Application Development Pete Olson here.  

Don’t worry - this isn’t an announcement that we’ve hired an abstract expressionist as our newest artist.

At Marvel we’re constantly trying to understand our characters and stories better so that we can better present those to you, our fans. (Also, we are big data nerds.)

As part of this effort we focused some sophisticated data analysis tools on the world’s most interesting social network—the Marvel Universe. The result is what you see above: in each image, every node represents a character and each line represents a shared appearance between two characters (in some of the graphs, the thickness of the line corresponds to the number of shared appearances).  

Some cool things we’ve found:

  • There are four big clusters of characters (you can see them in the different colored graphs above) which correspond to the X-Men, the Avengers, Spider-Man and Wolverine.
  • Wolvie seems to have his own entourage independent of his teammates in the Avengers and the X-Men.  
  • There are about 10 other smaller clusters—in the high-res images linked below you’ll see groups corresponding to X-Factor Investigations, our cosmic heroes, teen heroes like the Runaways and Avengers Academy students and even Alpha Flight. 
  • The Ultimate Universe orbits the main Marvel Universe like a satellite  (you can see it as a small spur on the right or left on most of the graphs above).
  • The graph diameter (the furthest distance between any two characters) is 9 hops.
  • The graph is relatively sparse (meaning many characters are not directly linked) with a density rating of .032.
  • The average character has links to 41 other characters

We have high-res versions of the first two graphs above (warning: these are about 10 megs each) here and here.

(Source: marvel.com)


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    This is beautiful AND informative.
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