Stan Lee created (or co-created) a good chunk of the classic Marvel comics universe and helped make comics what they are today.
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster may have kicked off the superhero comic book craze when they co-created SUPERMAN in the late-1930s, but the lasting popularity of comic books through so many different eras is almost certainly attributable to the contributions of Marvel’s STAN LEE.
Born in 1922, Stanley Lieber started as an assistant at Timely Comics – the company that would later become Marvel – in 1938. The New York City-born writer eventually traded in his dream of writing the “Great American Novel” for creating an entire universe of superpowered beings, and ones that were a bit more relatable than the creations being at DC Comics. He had his first writing credit in 1941, and was installed as editor of the comic book company at the age of 19.
Lee had a hand in creating most of Marvel’s most iconic and enduring characters, including the FANTASTIC FOUR, the INCREDIBLE HULK, THE AVENGERS and the X-MEN (with Jack Kirby), SPIDER-MAN and DOCTOR STRANGE (with Steve Ditko), and DAREDEVIL (with Bill Everett). Lee assumed the role of Marvel comics publisher in 1972 and moved into his role as the public face of the comic book company.
While there has been some controversy between Lee and his early co-collaborators – Lee famously had fallings-out with Ditko and Kirby and a public battle with Marvel when he left the company in the late 1990s – he has become an elder statesman both for Marvel and the comic book industry in general. In recent years, Lee has had cameos in films featuring Marvel characters, dating back to 2000’s X-MEN film.
One of my favorite cameos, though, was the one Lee filmed for Kevin Smith’s second film, MALLRATS.
It’s such a randomly great moment to build a film around.
Lee married Joan Boocock in 1947, and the couple was married until her death last year. “The Man” himself may be gone, but his spirit will certainly live on through the characters and the memories he created for generations of comic book fans.