On Nov. 12, we lost one of the most influential people in the entertainment industry. Stan Lee was not only the creator and co-creator of many famous heroes, but he also revolutionized the comic industry and changed pop culture forever.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber, he began his career in the comic book world as an assistant at Timely Comics at the age of 17. In 1941, he came up with the pen name Stan Lee after he wrote his first comic “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge.”
By the late 1950s, the comic book industry fell into disarray and when Lee was approached to create his own team of superheroes similar to that of “The Justice League of America” created by DC Comics. Lee, along with artist Jack Kirby, created “The Fantastic Four,” “X-Men” and “The Incredible Hulk,” and he created “Spider-Man”with Steve Ditko. What made these heroes so unique was that they were relatable to the audience because they were often troubled individuals with everyday problems.
In the 1970s, Lee not only became the publisher of Marvel Comics, but also broke the infamous Comic Code Authority when he published an anti-drug campaign in a “Spider-Man”comic run. Later in 2001, Marvel abandoned the comic code and created their own rating system. Lee even went on to write for DC Comics. He wrote 13 issues of “Just Imagine” where he reimagined several DC superheroes.
The comic book realm is just the tip of the iceberg for Lee. In the late 70s, he decided to branch out with Marvel and pursue film and television. “The Incredible Hulk” was the first to be adapted for television and ran for over 80 episodes. In the early 90s, Marvel Studios was created under Marvel Comics, which later led to the “X-Men” film in 2000 and the “Spider-Man” film in 2002.
Within the Marvel films and television shows, Lee made numerous cameos in a number of different live action and animated films and television shows. Lee even made an unexpected cameo in the DC animated film “Teen Titans Go.” After the success of the “X-Men” and “Spider-Man,”Lee created Pow! Entertainment, a small production company where he created heroes such as “The Annihilator” and “Stan Lee’s Cosmic Crusaders.” Even after Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, Lee continued to write. He wrote “Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics,” “Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir,” and even co-wrote a fantasy novel series “The Zodiac Legacy” alongside author Stuart Moore and illustrator Andie Tong.
Lee received many accolades throughout his career. In 2008,he was awarded The National Medal of Arts for his groundbreaking work in recreating the American comic book. Later in 2011, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2017, he was named a Disney Legend and had his hand and footprints immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
Lee was truly an incredible man through his imagination and countless character creations. He was able to rewrite American mythology to include people from all walks of life. He became a pop culture icon and was able to revolutionize the comic book genre that was once only geared to children. His work is now enjoyable to people of all ages and has no doubt changed the lives of many generations. Lee leaves behind a marvelous legacy will outlive us all.
“Excelsior!” – Stan Lee