The comics world has been left reeling from the news that Marvel’s iconic figurehead, Stan Lee, has died aged ninety five.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28th 1922 into a poor family, Stan Lee was raised in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan.
In 1939 Lee gained employment as an errand boy at Timely Comics. Within two years he began writing secondary stories for Captain America at which point he adopted the pen name ‘Stan Lee’. He would soon go on to be named interim Editor.
His comics career took second stage in 1942 when Stan was enlisted into the army Signal Corps. During his service he created manuals and training films. Upon the conclusion of the war Stan Lee returned to Timely Comics where he would serve as editor for many years to come.
In the early sixties Lee set about revitalising the image of the company, rebranding as ‘Marvel’. Under the new title Lee would introduce The Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Hulk, The X-Men and of course, the infamous Spider-Man.
Often Lee would draw on his own upbringing by setting his stories in New York where his characters stood out from the norm of the time. Whilst other publishers focussed on presenting well-rounded heroes, Lee and his fellow creators were giving readers superheroes with flawed personalities and emotional challenges.
With relatable characters and action packed pages a loyal and substantial fanbase helped to grow Marvel into the biggest, most recognisable comics publisher in the world.
Stan Lee has found infamy through his charism, flamboyance and inimitable catchphrase ‘Excelsior!’. Filmgoers have become used to seeing Lee on their screens with cameos in almost every superhero film based on a Marvel character.
Throughout the years Lee has portrayed any number of characters in Marvel’s cinematic universe with some fans hypothesising that Lee’s eventual involvement in the MCU would be more substantial than was initially evident.
Despite his phenomenal success with growing Marvel from a comic book publisher into a multi-media powerhouse owned by Disney, Lee’s final years have been a rollercoaster.
Since the death of his wife Joan in 2017 there have been worrying stories of elder-abuse, corruption and collusion by his own family members who have been allegedly trying to extort Lee’s fortunes from him. Concerns surrounding Lee’s health emerged recently with reports suggesting that the comics legend was losing his faculties.
At the age of ninety five it has been confirmed that Stan Lee died on Monday 12th December.
His legacy will live on for many years to come, his body of work and contribution to pop-culture is immeasurable through generations.