Stan Lee was a publisher and editor for Marvel for a long time. He has been credited as executive producer on almost 150 TV shows and movies based on Marvel titles. These titles grossed in the billion dollar range. Films that include Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Thor, Doctor Strange films, and Black Panther. Shows such as Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and The Punisher also bear Lee’s name.
Four of the top 20 all time box office hits on the planet were based on character that Lee co-created as of 2017. There are many more Marvel movies that bear Lee’s name. Stan Lee was known for his on-screen cameo roles in numerous Marvel movies. He will still have a role in some films yet to be released, including the untitled Avengers 4 movie due to be released in 2019. His cameo roles date back to at least 1989.
Lee joked once that his cameo roles were the reason why Marvel movies were very successful. “The cameo is very brief,” he mentioned. “Somebody might miss it, you might’ve reached down for popcorn. If you missed a cameo, what do you do? You run to the box office and buy another ticket! So half of the money they’ve made is because of my cameos!” He continued.
It is difficult to sum up what Stan Lee meant to what we read, consumed, and watched, but the world has kept on trying. Stan Lee has been presented with the National Medal of Arts, a Disney Legends Award, and also the Vanguard Award by the Producers Guild. When Stan Lee was 91 years old, he was placed on Forbes’ annual ranking of the most influential celebrities, to be among figures such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
Stan Lee had an ordinary way of life thinking about his legacy and career,“I’m just a guy who wrote comic books,” he was known to say.
Lee has an origin story. His birth-name is Stanley Martin Lieber, and he was born on December 28th, 1922 in New York City. When Lee was 17 years old in 1939, his cousin Jean’s husband, Martin Goodman, created Timely Comics, Marvel’s forerunner. Lee was hired by Goodman to refill inkwells for Timely’s team of editors, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are both already renowned for creating Captain America.
Simon and Kirby both left Marvel in 1941, which transformed Lee just like Peter Parker went from high school nerd to Spider-Man. Stan Lee became the art director, lead writer, and editor-in chief for Timely Comics. Lee held editor-in chief until the 1970’s, except for when he served in the Army during World War II.
Timely changed to Atlas in during 1960, which then turned into Marvel, which produced mystery, monster, and cowboy stories. Only occasionally would superheroes surface. Lee became bored, along with Marvel being on the ropes.
“Around 1960, I told my wife, ‘I can’t stand this anymore,’” Lee stated. “…My wife said, ‘If you want to quit anyway, before you leave why not do a comic or two the way you want.’”
Lee recalled around that time, hearing Goodman tell his editor he wants a superhero team-up title, sort of like Justice League, which was a hot new hit for their DC Comics rival at the time.
One year after that in 1961, the first release of The Fantastic Four was published, with co-creators Lee and Kirby, who had returned to Marvel. The comic book was unlike anything fans had seen before. Justice League was a collective of do-gooders, while Fantastic Four was mutants who would bicker.
“I changed the whole line around,” Lee was known to have said. “New ways of (the characters) talking, hangups, introspection and brooding.”
The superhero vision of Stan Lee came down to this: “Inside their colorful, costumed booties they’d still have feet of clay,” he had written in his book named Origin of Marvel Comics.
It was revolutionary thinking.
“The beauty of Stan Lee’s characters is that they were characters first and superheroes next,” Jeff Kline, a producer of animated series (Transformers Prime, Dragon Tales), stated once. “They never just had superpowers.”
Lee and Kirby pumped out some other now modernly known flawed heroes, one after the other, throughout the earth 1960’s.
“Lee and Kirby were the Lennon and McCartney of comics,” Dark Horse Comics founder Mike Richardson said to the LA Times.
Lee co-created Spider-Man with Steve Ditko, Marvel’s superman equivalent. Lee penned Spider-Man’s famous words in Amazing Fantasy 15, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Marvel skyrocketed, with Lee heading it. Stan Lee quickly became a star to comic readers of the 1960’s and 1970’s. He came up with his own catchphrase, “Excelsior!”
Hollywood showed interest in Marvel starting in the 1960’s as it moved into the mainstream. Marvel went prime-time in the 1970’s with hero shows such as The Incredible Hulk, and The Amazing Spider-Man.
Marvel superheroes had a difficult time making it to the big screen. DC Comics made big successes on the Superman and Batman franchises. Meanwhile, Spider-Man and others were in development hell. Most famous for a time, was the Roger Corman branded Fantastic Four film, it was low budget, never got released, and Lee was not a producer. Marvel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996
But in 2000, X-Men was released in theaters, then things changed. X-Men turned into multiple well known spin-offs. These movies sent Hollywood into a superhero binge, and it has not backed away from it yet.
Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment in 2009, with a $4 billion price tag attributed to the characters and adventures, along with titles that originated in the era of Lee owned Marvel Comics.
In the 1990’s, Lee stepped down from being Marvel publisher, but remained the company chairman. Around that time he founded the media company known as POW! Entertainment, and was the star of his own reality-TV series called Who Wants to Be a Superhero?.
Stan Lee left his hand prints at the TCL Chinese Theatre in 2017. Lee’s wife of 69 years named Joan Lee, had died under two before the ceremony, she also died at age 95 just like Stan.
There were no signs that Lee was losing his story spinning abilities or had slowed down. Lee said “I love em all.” when asked which character is his favorite, much like any proud parent would say.
Featured Image Credit: CC/Flickr/Gage Skidmore
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.