Ultimate Marvel is an imprint of comic books published by Marvel Comics, featuring reimagined and updated versions of the company's superhero characters, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. The imprint was launched in 2000 with the publication of the series Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men, giving new origins for the characters. The universe has been designated as Earth-1610 within the Marvel Multiverse, which comprises an infinite number of alternate universes.
It was confirmed that as part of a large scale reboot of the Marvel multiverse, the Ultimate Universe will end with the release of Secret Wars (2015).
The Ultimate Universe was launched in 2000 with the publication of Ultimate Spider-Man, followed by Ultimate X-Men in 2001 and The Ultimates in 2002, and finally Ultimate Fantastic Four. Prior to the launch, the imprint was under the working title of "Ground Zero". The characters in this line exist outside of the regular Earth-616 Marvel Universe and therefore do not normally interact with their original version counterparts. However, while certain characters within the Marvel Multiverse, such as Reed Richards, do sometimes possess the means to contact or enter other universes, there may occasionally be direct interaction as well.
The stories and characters of Ultimate Marvel have been adapted to reflect the differences between storylines with both present and past continuities, most of which were created in the 1960s and 1970s. For example, Ultimate Spider-Man gains his superpowers from a genetically-engineered spider rather than a radioactive spider, and his alter ego, Peter Parker, originally a photographer for the Daily Bugle newspaper, now has a part-time job as the paper's webmaster. The Ultimate Marvel universe also features many of the characters as younger than their regular-continuity counterparts.
In December 2005 through early 2007, Marvel published a print ad campaign in titles across their company that showed all Ultimate titles and had the slogan, "Ultimate Marvel: The Gold Standard".
Writers noted for their work in the line include Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, and Mark Millar. Joe Quesada and former Marvel president Bill Jemas were also involved in the creation of the line.
The entire Ultimate Marvel imprint was relaunched in 2009 after the conclusion of the Ultimatum event, under the Ultimate Comics brand.
In August 2011, Marvel relaunched the Ultimate line again, this time with the Ultimate Comics Universe Reborn tagline after the conclusion of "The Death of Spider-Man" story arc, headed by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and Brian Michael Bendis. The titles relaunched were Ultimate Comics: X-Men, Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates, and Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man. Additionally, Ultimate Comics: Fallout and Ultimate Comics: Hawkeye were released as mini-series.
In January 2014, Marvel announced that following the conclusion of the Ultimate Marvel miniseries Cataclysm in April 2014, and coinciding with the Marvel Universe All-New Marvel NOW! launch, three new Ultimate series will debut from April 2014, under the banner Ultimate Marvel NOW!. The three series are: Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, Ultimate FF, and All-New Ultimates. Ultimate FF ended in August 2014, and All-New Ultimates will end in January 2015, leaving Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man as the only ongoing title in the Ultimate Marvel universe.
In 2015 Marvel published Ultimate End, which will end the Ultimate Marvel imprint after 15 years. Ultimate End launched the "Battleworlds" branding of Marvel's Secret Wars storyline, and is written by Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley, the team that began the Ultimate Marvel universe with Ultimate Spider-Man.