Stan Lee, the legendary writer, editor and publisher of Marvel Comics, who revolutionised the comic book and helped make billions for Hollywood by introducing human frailties in superheroes is dead.
He died on Monday at the age of 95 after an ambulance was called to his Hollywood Hills home early in the morning and he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai hospital. He passed on shortly after arriving at the medical facility.
He is survived by his daughter and only child Joan Celia, known as ‘J.C.’
His wife Joan died in July of last year after suffering complications from a stroke. The pair had been married for 70 years at the time of her death.
Incredible Hulk, Thor, the X-Men, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Spiderman and Captain America are just a few of the many superhuman, and super flawed, characters created by Lee, artist Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922, he grew up poor in Washington Heights, where his father, a Romanian immigrant, was a dress-cutter. A lover of adventure books and Errol Flynn movies, Lee graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project, where he appeared in a few stage shows, and wrote obituaries.
In 1939, Lee got a job as a gofer for $8 a week at Marvel predecessor Timely Comics. Two years later, for Kirby and Joe Simon’s Captain America No. 3, he wrote a two-page story titled “The Traitor’s Revenge!” that was used as text filler to qualify the company for the inexpensive magazine mailing rate. He used the pen name Stan Lee.
He was named interim editor at 19 by publisher Martin Goodman when the previous editor quit. In 1942, he enlisted in the Army and served in the Signal Corps, where he wrote manuals and training films with a group that included Oscar-winner Frank Capra, Pulitzer-winner William Saroyan and Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss). After the war, he returned to the publisher and served as the editor for decades.
Following DC Comics’ lead with the Justice League, Lee, Stephen Ditko, and Jack Kirby in November 1961 launched their own superhero team, the Fantastic Four. Lee rose to fame that same year and turned Timely Comics, where he was started out in the industry as an assistant, into Marvel Comics.
After Fantastic four, Hulk, Spider-Man , Doctor Strange, Daredevil and X-Men soon followed. The Avengers launched as its own title in September 1963.
The relationship between Lee and Marvel had grown contentious over the years however, especially in his final months however. In May 2018, he filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against the company.
The complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleged that POW! Entertainment CEO Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion failed to fully disclose to Lee details of the firm’s 2017 sale to Camsing International.
Lee said that the company took advantage of him at a time when he was despondent over the death of his wife Joan and suffering from macular degeneration, a condition affecting the eyes.
As a result, he was duped into signing an agreement giving away the rights to his image and likeness states the complaint.
Lee also argued that he was unable to read the document due to his eye condition and suggested the signature on the paperwork was not his own.
Despite his differences with Marvel, the comic-book legend was still a big part of the Marvel universe until his death, making a cameo in every Marvel Studios film since 1993, with his most recent appearance being in Venom, which has proven to be yet another blockbuster.
That film, released in early October, had grossed $674 million at the worldwide box office as of Sunday on a $100 million budget. Other recent projects he helped make possible range from the films “Black Panther” and “Doctor Strange” to such TV series as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Lee also served as an executive producer on these titles, which helped boost his fortune in a very big way in recent years.
In fact, in the past 10 years alone, Marvel Studios has released 20 films in the Marvel universe which have made over $17 billion at the box office.
This has easily earned it the title of the highest-grossing film franchise of all time.
Lee’s comics at the initial stage were thought only good enough for the small screen with CBS turning the Hulk into a successful television series in 1978 which lasted five season.
And on children’s television a number of his comics were turned into cartoons.
But things changed remarkable in 2000, when X-Men became the first of Lee’s comics to be turned into a feature-length studio film.
It was a roaring success and earned $130 million at the North America box office, a number that was best two years later when Spiderman earned $400 million.
His legal woes began back in January when Lee had been accused of groping his nurses in a lawsuit, which was dismissed as his daughter as a shakedown of the senior citizen.
Lee then sought a restraining orders against one manager and fired his road manager claiming he was victim of elder abuse.
At the same time, some are pointing a finger at his daughter J.C, with allegations her penchant for shopping and buying luxury goods was eating away at her father’s fortune.
His cameos in Marvel movies was always one to look forward to. He will certainly be missed.