On Monday, November 12th, Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95, leaving the comics industry – as well as the various other sides of the entertainment business he affected – in mourning. Besides Lee being a co-creator of many of the most popular superheroes in history, his work persevered, transforming into one of Hollywood’s most ambitious movie franchises: the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Known as simultaneously “self-effacing and self-aggrandizing”, Lee is remembered as a strong personality who embraced and aplauded change, developed superheroes with personal imperfections and insecurities inside a world where lonely youngsters could find identifying kinship and believed in a world of heroism, positivity, inclusion and acceptance.
Stan Lee’s creative peak was in the 1960s, when the comic book artist developed the novel concept that probably the most engaging superheroes happen to be the ones that were the most human. The masked avengers who, while not saving the planet from oblivion, grappled with real-world issues – from economic struggles to alcohol addiction to the difficulty of getting a date to the prom.
“The world always needs heroes, whether they’re superheroes or not,” Lee once said in an interview. “Since time immemorial there were stories and legends about evil people who had superpowers, and some human being had to find a way to conquer them. It seems to be part of the human condition.”
Working with several artists, which include Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee created such seminal heroes as Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther and the X-Men, as well as, with writer Larry Lieber, Ant-Man, Iron Man and Thor.
More than five decades later Lee’s impact continues to be felt in a big way. The legacy of Lee lives on at Marvel. Nowadays, the company has moved far beyond the comic book pages. It is responsible for some of the most financially successful movie franchises ever.
As revealed by Infinity War and Avengers 4 co-director Joe Russo and Lee’s agent, Stan was able to film his short cameos before passing. For over two decades, Lee has showed up in over 30 Marvel films starting with 1989’s TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk to the recent Ant Man and the Wasp.
Paying tribute to Lee in a post on Marvel’s website, Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said, “Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created. A super hero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain, and to connect. The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart.”
In the five-and-a-half-minute clip posted below, Lee reminisces about Marvel’s beginnings, which started with The Fantastic Four, and what led him to his love of comics. Lee also goes into the founding of his pen name, how each of his characters came about, and finally how he wants to be remembered, stating he hopes people remember his good storytelling.