12th November shall be embroidered in the hearts of Comic Book lovers all over the world as one of their darkest days because it took along with it the legendary comics writer and to be specific, the publisher of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee. Just five years shy of 100, Lee died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber, he made his comic-book debut with the text thriller “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge (May 1941), using the pseudonym Stan Lee, a name which in later years he would adopt as his legal name. And like the old adage, he never looked back.
In his illustrious life time, Lee created or co-created, among others modern blockbuster movies like Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and Ant-Man.
Perhaps having risen to fame with the success of the Spiderman Comics, Stan Lee struggled to make it in life. He grew up poor in Washington Heights, where his father, a Romanian immigrant, was a dress-cutter. Lee graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and joined the WPA Federal Theatre Project, where he appeared in a few stage shows, and wrote obituaries.
In 1939, he got a job as a gofer for $8 a week at the Marvel predecessor Timely Comics. Two years later, for Kirby and Joe Simon’s Captain America No. 3, Lee wrote a two-page story titled “The Traitor’s Revenge!” that was used as text filler to qualify the company for the magazine mailing rate. It was the first time he used the pen name Stan Lee.
At the age of 19, he was made editor by publisher Martin Goodman when the previous editor quit. Lee even did military time when in 1942, he enlisted in the Army and served in the Signal Corps. While there 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.
Inspired by the successes of DC Comics’ lead with the Justice League, Lee and Kirby in November 1961 launched their own superhero team, the Fantastic Four, for the newly renamed Marvel Comics, and Hulk, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Daredevil and X-Men soon followed. The Avengers launched as its own title in September 1963.
In 1972, Lee was named publisher and relinquished the Marvel editorial reins to spend all his time promoting the company. He moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to set up an animation studio and to build relationships in Hollywood. Lee purchased a home overlooking the Sunset Strip that was once owned by Jack Benny’s announcer, Don Wilson.
Long before his Marvel characters made it to the movies, they appeared on television. An animated Spider-Man show ran on ABC from 1967 to 1970.But for all his faults that we can blame on old age, Lee transformed Marvel from a tiny venture into the world’s No. 1 publisher of comic books and a multimedia powerhouse.
“I used to think what I did was not very important,” he told the Press in April 2014.
“People are building bridges and engaging in medical research, and here I was doing stories about fictional people who do extraordinary, crazy things and wear costumes. But I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed.”
Ardent Marvel Movie fans will easily tell you that Stan appears in each one of their movies and that goes beyond what passion he possessed to see his works perfected never minding how old he was getting by the day.
With Captain Marvel and Avengers 5 already in production, we are not sure whether we shall see him two more times in what movie fans already expect to be game changing scenes in the now complex Marvel Universe after the warlord Thanos messed it all up. But what we are definite about, he will have glorious dedication in the upcoming Marvel projects.
Tributes from distinguished people in the entertainment industry that Stan Lee revolutionized came in handy after the legend was announced dead.
“Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created. A superhero 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” Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement.
“No one has had more of an impact on my career and everything we do at Marvel Studios than Stan Lee. [He] leaves an extraordinary legacy that will outlive us all. Our thoughts are with his daughter, his family and the millions of fans who have been forever touched by Stan’s genius, charisma and heart” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said in his tribute.
May his works continue to shine light on his legacy and inspire billions of creative people world over. Rest in Peace!, Stan.