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Captain Marvel throwback site (marvel.com)
192 points by ChrisArchitect 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 83 comments

I think they did a great job of capturing the essence of the late 90’s and early 00’s homepages web with this.

The technical implementation details not being historically accurate don’t matter IMO.

It’s about the aesthetics and the spirit.

I feel at home.

See also Prof. Dr. style which is related though a bit more toned down. http://contemporary-home-computing.org/prof-dr-style/

> The technical implementation details not being historically accurate don’t matter IMO.

Same, it doesn't matter. If anything, the fact that both this page and the movie itself use modern techniques to convey '95 style and setting just adds to the experience.

I dunno, looks way too good on mobile to be a 90's site... ;-)

I think its because both <blink> and <marquee> no longer work in modern browsers consistently.

Also, fun thing I noticed, if you google for <marquee> a part of the results page scrolls side to side, like marquee would!

<blink> and <marquee> tags can be targeted in a CSS stylesheet in modern browsers. So you can still have <blink> tags that blink without JavaScript.

I imagine you might be able to pull off <marquee> tags without additional markup, but I'm not sure.


I try to mainly use DDG nowadays, but man I love some of the little things Google has done.

In case anyone hasn't seen the original Space Jam website.


I'm glad monitors back then didn't have the contrast they do now. It literally hurts my eyes.

CRTs were very bad for your eyes - literally. There are laws for “monitor operators” here in Europe that used to be very strict about breaks every hour or so, with mandatory eye-healthchecks every few months and subsidies for glasses. Without the switch to flatscreens, I expect I would have been almost blind by now - the improvement was massive and noticeable.

I believe it, I used a CRT for the first time in years the other day and I couldn't believe how much I felt the eye fatigue. I don't want to know how much damage I did back in the day on those things.

CRTs has more contrast (AFAIK)

Interesting how even this throwback apparently requires JavaScript to run. Guess your devs couldn't stay away from the SPA setup for a single site then?

I'm 99% sure that's part of the joke. Personally I love how much effort was expended here to make the latest techniques look like the oldest ones.

It's 300KB of JS and 3.5MB of content. Viewing it back then would be very, very painful (and even today could be way faster).

On 56k dialup that would take almost 10 minutes to load.

Is it seriously that big a deal that a website uses Javascript?

It doesn't just "use JavaScript", it's entirely implemented in JS. Without JS, you just have an empty site with no markup.

Good thing all of my browsers support JavaScript. :)

Translating this kind of thinking back to the 90s it'd be something like, "I run random executables I get emailed." As all those browsers expose more and more hardware directly the security evaporates. It's already bad.

Javascript is sandboxed. Running "random executables" is definitely not.

Keep telling yourself that as more and more hardware and low level networking functionality is directly exposed due to the demands for 'apps' that can equal the abilities of native applications.

The browser security model is actually granular, as opposed to the desktop model of granting complete access upon running an app. Sensitive information like location or hardware access sits behind contextual permission prompts.

There’s a lot of Javascript on the Internet. If you disable it in your browser, there’s going to be some content you can’t use. It’s a trade off. Not every website has no-JS users designed in mind. I’m not defending the lack of accessibility. It’s just a reality at this point.

> I’m not defending the lack of accessibility. It’s just a reality at this point.

Some unrequested advice on ethics:

I really understand your pragmatism, but in defending the way things are at this point, you are indirectly defending the consequences, even if you don't directly support these consequences.

This sounds weirdly stern (we're talking about web development, not, say, the Middle East) but I think this applies to everything we do.

When you choose to use a tool or a technique because everyone else is doing it, you are endorsing the status quo and its harmful or positive side effects, to some degree. Defending the way things are right now isn't wrong by itself, but it is not a neutral action.

Of course. Not every application running in a browser is a website just because it runs in the browser. However, here we're talking about a very websitish website, with its websiteness even being the central point of its websitey existence... and yet it doesn't work as a website ;)

It is reality for businesses and large institutions. I can accept that they don't care about anything other than making (or saving) money which drives their managers to drive their coders to make shitty sites that encourage unsafe practices.

But when those same coders come home and defend the practice just because they have to do it for work I'm a bit confused. It shouldn't be controversial that this is a bad thing. I'd guess it's sunk costs type thinking.

Isomorphic server side rendering gets you the best of both worlds and isn't hard to set up these days as long as you have it in mind from the start.

Wasn't javascript the main way to get moving elements in webpages? Here they're using css animations, which definitely weren't around in those days. So I guess the style is throwback, not the implementation...

No, it was all gifs, blink and marquee tags.

Don’t forget about Java applets

I remember applets as often being fun but also a huge source of instability. On my family’s Mac in the mid-late 90s, any time we started playing Java applet games, Netscape and/or System 7.5 would inevitably seize up and we’d have to reboot. Applets and “Sorry, a system error has occurred” were almost synonymous.

Well the old websites worked with e.g. <blink> and <marquee> but modern browsers typically ignore these elements

Not if you wanted your site to work on MSIE -- I don't think setTimeout() was even supported until IE4.

Should have used SSR if they really had to stick with the SPA angle for it.

Outstanding, but it would be even funnier if it actually did render on Netscape Navigator 3.

The Browse Happy upgrade your browser thing was admittedly disappointing to find in the source

I kept scrolling down to find the "Marvel Web Ring" and found the hidden Stan Lee instead.

Interesting way to do a throwback but still maintain modern web-design standards (OG tags, responsive, SEO, etc.)

Viewing a real 1995 site on a mobile device is not as pleasant.

Also unicode.


I seem to recall that Western or Latin-1 encoding was more common (or at least, Netscape would assume) than UTF-8 in 1995. This resulted in some sites not displaying Russian characters correctly when you visited a site that didn't specify the encoding. Manually setting the encoding at times would be required.


I always enjoy these old school style sites. DHTMLConf had a fun one a while back[0].

What is a little strange is that I'm starting to see these sites as fun and refreshing as opposed to annoying and obtrusive. I wonder if we are getting close to a flip in design tastes away from making UX as minimal as possible.

[0] http://dhtmlconf.com

What's strange to me is that younger Marvel fans(say a 12 year old born in 2007) would probably have no idea why this is amazing.

I recently made a joke about Geocities to a class full of graduate students. None of them had heard of it.

It's my first year as faculty and I already make cultural references that go over their heads. Not a good sign...

I was born in 1987, but I think I can appreciate a throwback to the early 80s or the 70s when I see one.

Yes, but as an adult I can also appreciate why things alluding to the time before I was born are funny. Marvels current target audience will probably not because most of them(not all) lack the required maturity at this stage in their lives.

This is amazing, reminds me of a colleague's personal site: http://bitfission.com/. He built it as a bit of de-stressing after a really long work week many years ago dealing with a major AWS outage. I believe he even combed through the geocities archives to be historically accurate.

Solid 90s. Would have been even more authentic if upon viewing the source code I would have seen more <table>, <center>, and <font> tags.

Absolutely. First thing I did when I landed was view source code. Regardless, nice piece of work.

Complete with <blink> tag, re-implemented with CSS3 animations. Well-played, Marvel.

There's no "under construction" GIF. I'm very disappointed.

Nor a page hit counter!!!

Except there is? Right under watch trailer at the top.

Haha! You’re right - I missed it as I was instinctively jumped to the bottom of the page. Now where is my “Back to top” link?

:) I was looking for one as well.

Still better than many modern sites.

1) You can clearly tell what's a link or a button.

2) It doesn't break scrolling or the back button.

First the "make your sites pages instant" snippet and now this. How lovely it is to click on a link and not wait :)

The last time I can remember that feeling is when I first arrived at college. The LAN network in the college was connected to the largest backbone link in the country. We had download speeds of 1mb / second. It blitzed through geocities sites.

Be sure to scroll down to the comments at the bottom. Hilarious in jokes.

Oh how this made me realize just how much I miss the internet of the 90s.

Blank space at the bottom - just so when you page down through the page and reach the end, the last readable content would correctly shift up the same amount as the previous shift.

The most impressive part, to me: they've compressed the images in a way that makes them look like they were rendered when I used IE4 on my Windows 3.11 machine.

What sort of compression is it where all the colors are comprised of cross+star shapes? How would you compress these images to look like this in 2019?

I'm not sure if I should dislike it for trying to hard or liking it even more for trying too hard.

From one of the developers: "We built this in FrontPage and host it [on] Angelfire"


If you want to see another stunning tribute to the internet times of yore checkout https://www.cameronsworld.net/ (make sure to turn on the sound)

PS: Plz join my webring ;)

Don't really understand the relevance of the site's throwback style to the film itself. Anyone care to explain?

It takes place in the 90's.

Nice. Only thing missing is Geocities logo

Load times are through the floor. I bet you could fetch this thing over dial-up in under 10 seconds.

Base href is "i.annihil.us". Let's hope the Sony lawyers don't read source.

They've been using that as an image hosting domain since at least 2015.

What!? No Konami Code easter egg!? What a missed opportunity!

They nailed it! Great job! I miss this era so much.

Love the broken image icon :-)

the speed is amazing

When I was reading Captain Marvel it was either a man (Marvel Comics) or a little boy on crutches (DC Comics).

Captain Marvel seems to be a reoccurring cosmic title like Green Lantern, it seems:


The version in the upcoming film is also called Ms. Marvel.

The order of events is roughly:

- National Comics (the predecessor to DC) made Superman comics

- Fawcett Comics made Captain Marvel comics, inspired by Superman

- Fawcett's Captain Marvel and spinoffs became more popular than Superman

- National sued Fawcett, and in the lawsuit it came out that some Captain Marvel stories were direct copies of Superman stories with the characters swapped

- Fawcett settled the lawsuit and shut down Captain Marvel production

- Over a decade later, Marvel Comics started publishing their own Captain Marvel (a different character aside from the name) and got the trademark on the name

- DC, as successor to National, licensed and later bought out the Fawcett Captain Marvel, then added him to their own universe alongside Superman

That's how you get to a Marvel movie titled "Captain Marvel" featuring Captain Marvel, and a DC movie titled "Shazam!" featuring the other Captain Marvel, even though the now-DC one came first.

There's a fork in this history arising from the British publishing of Captain Marvel - i had a go at summarising the wikipedia entry [1], but gave up, because it's too bananas.

The gist is that when Captain Marvel was shut down, the British publisher came up with a knockoff called Marvelman, who then went through a comparable set of rights battles and name changes, becoming Captain Miracle, then Marvelman again, then Miracleman, then Man of Miracles (when eventually bought up by Marvel, weirdly enough).

Along the way, there was a really disturbing run in the '80s written by Alan Moore, which was out of print for years because of the rights battles, and also bits from Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison. Oh, and a villain called Young Nastyman, who turns up in a Tenacious D song.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvelman#History

Man of Miracles is actually another tangent, where Todd McFarlane, the guy who make the Spawn comics, incorrectly believed he'd purchased the Miracleman rights and featured the character in his comic, then had to pivot and retcon the character into something else entirely when sued by a new company formed by Gaiman to arrange republishing of the Moore/Gaiman/Morrison stories.

When I was reading, it was a African-American woman.

(NB: Look at the guest book)

The kid with crutches was captain marvel junior, Billy Batson was just an orphan.

Interesting how I get downvoted for talking about the comics I read as a child in a discussion about a retro comic hero website.

What's the problem??

Needs JS to render, which barely existed in the early 90's. ((sad trombone))

"Is anyone else concerned about Y2K?!?" :D

Hardly. This site is as modern web crap as modern web crap gets. It literally displays nothing without javascript enabled.

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