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1922-2018 Stan Lee had a pro­found im­pact on the comic book uni­verse

Variety - - Top Billing - By BRENT LANG @brenta­lang

tan Lee’s cre­ative peak was in the 1960s, when the comic book artist came up with the novel idea that the most com­pelling su­per­heroes were the ones that were the most hu­man. The masked avengers who, when not sav­ing the world from obliv­ion, grap­pled with real-world is­sues — from fi­nan­cial strug­gles to al­co­holism to the dif­fi­culty of get­ting a date to the prom.

More than five decades later Lee’s in­flu­ence is still be­ing pro­foundly felt. The le­gacy of Lee, who died Nov. 12 at the age of 95, lives on at Mar­vel, the comic book pub­lisher he helped trans­form. To­day, the com­pany has moved far be­yond pan­els and dia­logue boxes. It is re­spon­si­ble for many of the most fi­nan­cially suc­cess­ful film fran­chises of all time and is also mak­ing in­roads into tele­vi­sion and stream­ing. It’s Stan Lee’s Hol­ly­wood, even if most movie­go­ers only rec­og­nize him from his sly cameos in the “Spider-man” films and the var­i­ous “Avengers” out­ings. This par­tic­u­lar mus­ta­chioed, ink-stained wretch had as much of an im­pact on pop­corn movies as Steven Spiel­berg, George Lu­cas or James Cameron, even if he never slid be­hind a cam­era or hunched over an Avid.

Need proof? Here’s a par­tial list of the char­ac­ters that Lee cre­ated or co- cre­ated: Spider-man, Black Pan­ther, the X-men, the Hulk, the Fan­tas­tic Four, Black Widow, Nick Fury and Dare­devil. Had Lee never put pen to pa­per, studios would be short sev­eral bil­lion- dol­lar-gross­ing fran­chises.

Lee never in­tended to rein­vent the comic book genre. He only grudg­ingly got into the game as a way to pay the bills be­fore writ­ing the great Amer­i­can novel. In fact, Stan Lee is a nom de plume. Lee’s real name, Stan­ley Martin Lieber, was in­tended to be re­served for more se­ri­ous lit­er­ary ef­forts.

That was not to be. In­stead, his­tory was made in the late 1950s and early ’60s, when the strug­gling Mar­vel Comics em­pow­ered Lee to come up with some way to com­pete with the far more suc­cess­ful DC Comics, the pub­lisher of “Bat­man,”“su­per­man” and “Won­der Woman.” Whereas DC’S char­ac­ters tended to be square-jawed ex­em­plars of

Stan the Man Comic book leg­end Stan Lee cre­ated he­roes, from Spider-man to the Fan­tas­tic Four, who con­tinue to ap­pear in movies and TV shows.

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