Entertainment News: Stan Lee, of Marvel Comic Fame, Dies at 95

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LOS ANGELES – The last of the great comic book creators has flown to the beyond. Stan Lee, who led the resurgence of comic book culture – especially in the movies – created legendary superheroes for Marvel Comics, including Spider-Man, Hulk, Black Panther and X-Men. Lee passed away at age 95 in Los Angeles on November 12th, 2018.

His catchphrase was “Excelsior!,” and that exclamation described his passionate life of creation and guidance for Marvel Comics, the upstart company that dared to take on the dominance of DC Comics in the early 1960s. Lee came upon a formula at the right time, to give his heroes specific flaws that represented the angst of the changing times in the 1960s, which was in direct contrast to the lantern-jawed goodness of Superman. His heroes dominated the so-called “Silver” and “Bronze” ages of comic book history (from the 1960s through the 1990s) and Marvel was perfectly positioned when “Spider-Man” and “Iron Man” began the Marvel Universe of films.

SL
Stan Lee of Comic Book Fame in 2013
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

Stanley Martin Lieber was born in New York City, and went to DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx during the Great Depression in the 1930s. He joined the Army during in 1942 during WWII, and was eventually assigned to their entertainment division as a “playwright” (only nine men had that designation, he later remembered). He had begun his comic book writing career shortly before the war, and chose the moniker “Stan Lee” not as a name shortener, but because comics were considered so lowly he wanted to make sure no one knew he was doing it. Timely Comics became Atlas Comics became Marvel Comics, and Stan Lee kept working for them throughout, but it wasn’t until the early 1960s that he connected in a big way.

It was the success of DC Comic’s revival of The Flash that convinced Marvel publisher Martin Goodman to start another team of super heroes. Lee wanted to do it his way, and began to outline characters that had roller coaster emotions, like boredom and general angst about their fate. Lee and artist Jack Kirby created the “Fantastic Four” in 1961, followed by the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and X-Men. With artist Bill Everett, he created Daredevil, and with Steve Ditko the one-two punch of Doctor Strange and Marvel’s most popular hero, The Amazing Spider-Man. The new slate of heroes, along with Lee’s enthusiasm (his “Excelsior!” was also the New York State motto, and he was nicknamed “Stan the Man”) and willingness to try new things, created a new era of success for Marvel Comics. He was promoted to publisher in 1972, replacing his original boss Martin Goodman.

The second part of his career mostly consisted of being the figurehead and representative of Marvel Comics and the comic book culture in general. He moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, and became executive producer of all the Marvel film adaptations beginning with a direct-to-video “Captain America” film in 1990. Around this time the Comic Con craze began, and Lee rode the wave with personal appearances at the conventions and cameos in each of the Marvel films… from the first in “Iron Man” (2008), where Tony Stark mistakes him for Hugh Hefner, to the latest in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (2018) where he plays a bystander who sees a car shrunk by the Wasp, and remarks, “Well, the ‘60s were fun, but now I’m paying for it.” He also made various appearances in Marvel TV show adaptations, and has filmed his final movie appearance in the 2019 Avengers film.

Stan Lee was married to Joan Clayton Boocock for nearly 70 years until she passed away in 2017. There was controversy after her passing that Lee was the victim of “elder abuse” as business manager Keya Morgan was attempting to isolate him from the world and his daughter (J.C. Lee) to tap into his wealth. In August of this year, Morgan was issued a restraining order to stay away from the Lee family. Stan Lee died from complications due to pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

In a telling quote, Lee expressed his whole life, “You know, my motto is ‘Excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory’… Keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time. Nothing lasts forever.”

Source for this article came from Wikipedia. “Excelsior!” Stan Lee, 1922-2018.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Editor and Film Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2018 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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