The legend has passed….
Stan Lee, who became an icon with the formation of Marvel Comics, co-creating some of the most beloved characters in comic book history, passed away on Monday at the age of 95.
Along with the likes of his brother Larry Lieber and legendary artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee and this prolific team were responsible for the legends such as Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man, X-Men, Black Panther, Iron Man, and The Mighty Thor, just to name a few.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28, 1922, Lee, an original Manhattanite, was always influenced by books and movies, with Errol Flynn serving as an idol. In 1939, the future Stan Lee started as an assistant at Timely Comics, owned by Martin Goodman. In 1941, using the pseudonym he would forever be known for, Lieber made his comic book debut with Captain America issue 3, with a story called “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Trouble”.
After a stint in the United States Army during World War II, Lee would return at Timely, which by the 1950’s, would become known as Atlas Comics. There, Lee would work on a variety of genres and would make a comic strip adaptation of the radio program My Friend Irma with friend Dan DeCarlo.
In 1961, Atlas Comics changed its name again to Marvel Comics. To capitalize on DC’s success of superheroes, Martin Goodman asked Lee to create a superhero team. Along with Jack Kirby, the Fantastic Four was born, based on another Kirby creation that was originally from DC, Challengers of the Unknown. The team was a hit and it only got better for Lee and team from there. With Steve Ditko, Marvel’s iconic Spider-Man was born as well as with Kirby, The Incredible Hulk.
In 1972, Goodman retired and after Chip Goodman temporarily took over as publisher, Stan Lee became Marvel’s publisher and eventual chairman. By then, Marvel was everywhere. The characters had animated cartoons. In the case of Spider-Man, he made his live-action debut on the PBS show The Electric Company followed by a TV-movie that would be the pilot for a short-lived TV series with former child actor Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker. As for The Incredible Hulk, a successful series ran from 1978 to 1982 starring Bill Bixby as Dr. David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk.
Marvel had also attempted to delve into films around this time with Dr. Strange and Captain America getting made-for-TV films in the late 70’s. In the 80’s, the Hulk re-emerged with a trilogy of made-for-TV films while an attempt to bring Spider-Man to the big screen failed. However, in 1989, Lee served as a consultant on the live-action adaptation of The Punisher, created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., and Ross Andru in 1974 when he faced Spider-Man. Dolph Lundgren played the titular Marvel anti-hero.
On the upside, the Marvel animated output was strong with Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Incredible Hulk, and others doing quite well. Marvel Entertainment also served as a distributor for cartoons like Muppet Babies in the 80’s.
In the 90’s, an attempt to bring Captain America to screens resulted in only a straight-to-video release with less then stellar reviews. In 1994, an attempt at a live action Fantastic Four movie was deemed so poor that Marvel refused to release it. Of course, to this day, the film is now available via bootlegs. The animated reboots of Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, along with The Fantastic Four kept Marvel going.
Lee would eventually step down from Marvel and continue his creative input by forming the short-lived Stan Lee Media in 1998 and POW! Entertainment in 2001, which focused on new superheroes for film, TV, and video games. Then of course, came the Marvel Cinematic Universe…”‘Nuff Said”. Lee would make cameos in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films that officially began in 2008 with Iron Man.
Lee had also worked with popular music stars Yoshiki and G.E.M. on the creation of new superheroes shortly before his death.
Lee is survived by his daughter, J.C., born in 1950. He is preceded in death by his wife, Joan, who passed away in July 2017.
World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Stan Lee. As a final tribute, here is the legendary Lee introducing the animated Marvel Action Hour in 1994
Thank you Stan Lee! In your own words, “Excelsior!”