What a life! Stan Lee, the creator of iconic characters such as Spider-man, Hulk, Iron Man, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, the X-Men and many more passed away yesterday. Editor-in-Chief and eventually publisher of Marvel Comics, he left an indelible impression on the comic world. His imprint on movies and TV is equally impressive and has created millions of Marvel fans around the globe. Here is a retrospect of some, not all, of Stan Lee’s characters on screens big and small with links to the trailers.
Spider-Man (1967 animated TV series): Not the first Marvel show to appear on screen but whose snappy theme song has stood the test of time.
The Incredible Hulk (1978 TV series): Bill Bixby as the scientist Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk created five seasons of primetime success for Marvel. “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I am angry.”
X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men (1989 TV pilot): Debuting in 1989, the pilot was narrated by Stan Lee but it was never ordered to series as Marvel was having money problems at this time. This was the last of the animated series partnership with DePatie-Freleng Enterprises/Marvel Productions which began in 1978 with the Fantastic Four series.
X-Men (2000 movie): The most popular Marvel characters of comics comes to the big screen and turn into a box office hit. With virtually unknown Hugh Jackman cast as the character Wolverine, it would lead to many more entries for this 20th Century Fox franchise.
Spider-Man (2002 movie): Directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire, this foray of our favorite web-slinger on the big screen was a big hit for Sony Pictures.
Hulk (2003 movie): Largely derided by critics (54 Metascore), this Ang Lee movie might have been too high brow and fell flat with audiences who wanted more action. Universal Pictures would return the character rights to Marvel in 2006 for distribution rights to the Marvel produced The Incredible Hulk in 2008.
Fantastic Four (2005 movie): Well not every Marvel movie was a success and this one was largely panned by critics and audiences. The 2007 sequel was better but the reboot in 2015 made this franchise a dissapointment. With Disney acquiring Fox, we will see if they can bring the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and reignite this first family of comics.
Iron-Man (2008 movie): This is the first movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Marvel Studios acquired the rights from New Line Cinema and secured distribution by Paramount. This unexpected hit would lead to Disney acquiring Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion dollars just one year later.
Marvel’s Daredevil (2015 TV series): Marvel’s partnership with streaming giant Netflix took a comic character and geared him for an adult audience (Common Sense Media gives it a 4 out of 5 violence parental rating) and would lead to more characters like Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher and Jessica Jones offered on Netflix.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018 movie): Stan Lee shed his mortal coil knowing that his Avengers was the fourth biggest movie of all time with over $2 billion dollars earned at the worldwide box office.
I am sure that Stan Lee never thought his characters would rise to such heights in popular culture or become a modern mythology. I hope that we get to see more of his fun cameos in the upcoming Captain Marvel and the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War. But if there was one word to describe his life, it has to be Excelsior, Latin for “ever upward.”
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