Stan Lee, the co-creator of Iron Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spiderman, Captain America and many other fantastical illustrations brought to life on our cinema screens has, from 1939, engineered some of the greatest superhero stories for generations of audiences. He is known to have revolutionised the comic book industry and was a major role in Marvel films accumulating $17.6 billion from its superhero franchises since the 1960s.
Lee served during the Second World War and was officially known as ‘Playwright’ during his time in the military, a fact that has recently surfaced in homage to his unique talents as a story creator. He had planned to quit writing at the age of 40, but his wife Joan urged him to create the characters that he always loved.
As a result, Lee and Jack Kirby co-created The Fantastic Four in 1961 which was an immediate hit. The audiences of the 1960s were enthralled by the spandex clad characters and new life was breathed into superhero comics. Superheroes now seemed enthrallingly closer to their audience, the men and women behind the masks enduring the everyday problems that we all faced when they weren’t cleaning crime from the streets. This ability to make his characters resonate with his audience allowed Lee to introduce characters such as Doctor Strange, Captain America and of course the X-Men which pioneered as Marvel’s first hit motion picture in 2000. The X-Men movie starring Hugh Jackman set the bar higher for superhero movies, spiralling into the numerous releases that we know and love today.
When Lee edited Marvel comics until 1971, the company sold 50 million copies per year. Its success was spearheaded by Lee’s imagination and the vision behind his characters. Lee was never bashful, and proudly made a cameo appearance in almost all of his films, literally walking amongst his creations. Not bad for an old timer.
What we learn from Lee’s life was that he never had time for convention. His characters took a completely different appearance to the other slashes of technicolour the competition embodied. They were reflections of living and breathing people that we could all relate to. A hero could be anybody walking across the street from us on our way to work. Stan Lee will be remembered as one of the greatest creators of his time. A superhero amongst mere mortals.