Films, Humans

Stan Lee – Marvel Comics Real Life Superhero

Image: Gage Skidmore

Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28, 1922, but legally changed his name after becoming a well-known comic writer. Lee’s interest in writing began at an early age and by 1939, he had become an assistant at Martin Goodman’s comic book publishing company. By the 1960s, the company became known as Marvel Comics. Stan Lee’s first contribution to the comic book world was Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge, in which the hero’s signature ricocheting shield-toss was revealed. At the age of 19, in 1941, Lee was given the title of interim editor for Marvel, and later became the editor-in-chief. He remained in that position until 1972, when he was promoted to publisher, a title previously held by Goodman.

In 1961, Goodman had given Lee the task of creating a team of superheroes that would compete with DC Comic’s Justice League of America. Alongside artist Jack Kirby, he invented The Fantastic Four, which was well received. Stan Lee went on to create other well-known, and much loved, characters such as Spider-Man, The Hulk, X-Men, Daredevil and Doctor Strange. To make the characters more relatable to his audience, Lee gave them a sense of humanity and focused on real life problems such as addiction and personal prejudices.

After Lee became the company’s publisher, Marvel continued to expand and he moved to the West Coast to take part in the its film ventures. He subsequently became Marvel’s chairman emeritus. While serving as an ambassador for his company, Lee filed several lawsuits against Marvel. In doing so, he brought the world’s attention to providing appropriate compensation for comic book creators. The company continued to thrive and produced many blockbusters, including Iron Man, X-Men and Thor.

Stan Lee continued to pursue other areas, many related to his comic book interests. In 2001, he founded the intellectual property company, POW! Entertainment and published his autobiography, Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee. His lifelong development of superheroes prompted Lee to start looking for them in real life, and he launched a programme on The History Channel, Stan Lee’s Superhumans, travelling the world to meet real people with remarkable abilities. At the end of 2012, the writer turned 90 years-old. His age hadn’t slowed him down, however, and he co-authored the graphic novel, Romeo and Juliet: The War. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, and Lee went on to launch a YouTube channel featuring science fiction, comedy and comic content, Stan Lee’s World of Heroes.

Despite being hospitalised for an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath in January 2018, Lee continued to work on Marvel’s latest superhero film venture, Black Panther, after being discharged. For his contribution in the world of entertainment Stan Lee received a Medal of Arts from George W. Bush, and still remains one of Marvel Comics greatest assets.

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