Legendary comic writer Stan Lee, co-creator of iconic comic characters including Spider-Man, X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and Iron Man has died aged 95.
Lee, who teamed up with great artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko revitalised the comics industry with his superhero creations and enthralled audiences worldwide for generations.
His daughter J.C. Lee said an ambulance was called to Lee’s Hollywood Hills home early on Monday, and that he passed on at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre.
Born Stanley Martin Liber in 28 December 1922, Lee got involved in comics early, at age 17. He began writing scripts for superhero and mystery comics at a publishing company owned by his relative Martin Goodman. After Goodman fell out with his editor in 1941, Lee took the helm as editor-in-chief, at a just 19 years of age.
He spent the next 20 years bringing various caped crusaders, cowboys and cops to life. As the 60s dawned, the market shifted and people wanted something different.
Rival DC Comics found success with an updated version of the Flash, and later with super-team Justice League of America. Lee was then assigned by publisher Goodman to come up with a superhero team.
Lee pioneered a more complex approach to writing superheroes. Superheroes were no longer the ideal, fundamentally perfect, archetypes. Lee gave his characters flaws, bad tempers, vanity. They were like you and I – we worry about paying bills, we get bored, we make mistakes.
Lee and Jack Kirby then created the Fantastic Four, a comic that launched the industry into new territory. Readers lapped this up in droves.
Together with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, co-created iconic characters like Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, and the X-Men. With co-writer Larry Lieber, the characters Ant-Man, Iron Man, and Thor were born.
Through the 60s, Lee scripted, art-directed and edited most of Marvel’s series and also wrote a monthly column called “Stan’s Soapbox,” which he usually signs off with his signature motto, “Excelsior!”
In 1972, Lee succeeded Goodman as publisher at Marvel Comics and in 1990 became its Chairman.
Following his retirement, Lee remained a public figurehead for the company. He frequently made cameo appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films as well as Marvel characters like Venom, Daredevil and Deadpool.
Lee was inducted into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995. He received a National Medal of Arts in 2008.
There will never be another Stan Lee. For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy. He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives. Excelsior!!
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) November 12, 2018
We’ve lost a creative genius. Stan Lee was a pioneering force in the superhero universe. I’m proud to have been a small part of his legacy and …. to have helped bring one of his characters to life. #StanLee #Wolverine pic.twitter.com/SQMlGvrCv5
— Hugh.M. Jackman (@HughMJackman2) November 12, 2018
Stan…more than a master of stories, you always seemed like a master of living. I will look to you for inspiration for the rest of my life. You live on. xoxo Your Wasp
#liveon #StanLee pic.twitter.com/JRA2aRM3bG
— Evangeline Lilly (@EvangelineLilly) November 12, 2018
Not enough kind words to post about my dear friend @TheRealStanLee
My life wouldn’t be the same without his incredible talent as a creator, storyteller and friend ??
— Lou Ferrigno (@LouFerrigno) November 12, 2018
Today we lost one of the greats. @TheRealStanLee, you were a inspiration and superhero to us all. Thank you for contributing so much- and giving us all something to aspire to! ?
— Zoe Saldana (@zoesaldana) November 12, 2018
Thanks for everything Stan Lee! What a life, so well lived. I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have gotten to meet you and to have played in the world you created.
— chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) November 12, 2018
RIP, Stan. You’ll be sorely missed. Thanks for your great stories.
Header image: Reed Saxon/AP