When you think of people who left their mark on the world, which names spring to mind? I’m sure religious leaders such as Billy Graham or Pope John Paul II pop up.
Perhaps you think of big-name politicians like Donald Trump or Theresa May or Angela Merkel. Then there are the humanitarians who helped improve numerous lives.
For myself, I always think about Sir Alexander Fleming (who discovered penicillin) and Norman Borlaug (the agricultural scientist whose innovations saved possibly billions of lives). Yet I’d like to propose that we add another name to those lists, an entertainer who has thrilled people for decades: Stan Lee.
Born Dec. 29, 1922, Lee passed away on Nov. 12 at the age of 95. TMZ reports that an ambulance rushed him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he later died.
Lee is probably best known as the creator of Spider-Man. But that’s far from the only comic franchise he fathered.
According to People, he also created or co-created Daredevil, the Mighty Thor, the Avengers, and the X-Men. Ranker highlights others such as Doctor Doom, the Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Man.
Do those names sound more than a little familiar? If you’ve been to a summer movie anytime in the past, oh, two decades, they probably do.
A powerhouse at Marvel Comics, he did more than merely pen the names that would top marquees. He also appeared in most of the movies they eventually graced.
Lee had a grand total of 34 Marvel-movie cameos. The appearances began with his on-screen appearance in 1989’s “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” and concluded with the blockbuster “Avengers: Infinity War” in 2018. It is likely he will also have a cameo in the upcoming movie “Captain Marvel,” which concluded filming in July and is due in theaters in March 2019.
His love of pulpy tales with lots of mass appeal reached back to his childhood. Born to immigrant parents in New York City, he had a yen for the heroics of Errol Flynn.
He started work in the comic industry at the tender age of 17. A year later, he would become editor-in-chief at Timely Comics.
During World War 2, Lee joined the military where he worked on training films and penned pithy catch phrases. Serving in the armed services even allowed him several opportunities for cartooning.
He would write for Atlas Comics in the 1950s, which would become Marvel Comics a decade or so later. Despite Lee’s heavy involvement in the industry, he never seemed to lose his love for comics or their characters.
CNET writer Bonnie Burton recalled, “Whenever I had the honor to be in his presence, mostly at comic book conventions, Lee was full of excitement. He always seemed like a kid in a candy store and loved seeing fans cosplay his creations.”
The fans returned that love, snapping up the comics and films in which his creations appeared. Yet even though his imaginings became billion-dollar businesses, Lee never seemed to let the accolades go to his head.
“My father loved all of his fans,” his daughter, J.C. Lee, said after his passing. “ He was the greatest, most decent man.”
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