Marvel Comics icon, Stan Lee (Stanley Martin Lieber) has sadly passed away. A writer and editor for Marvel Comics, Lee became one of the most famous comic book creators in history, co-creating such iconic characters as Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, Hulk and Fantastic Four.

His comic career began in 1941, when Lee – aged 17 – first had a prose story published in the fifth issue of Captain America Comics. However, it was in the 1960s when Lee secured his reputation in pop culture history.

Born Stanley Lieber, he changed the his name in order to “save that name” for serious writing, assuming that writing comics would be a brief stop on the way to becoming a novelist or playwright. Instead, his comic book career would span almost seven decades, and rather than moving on to a more “respectable” medium, Lee helped to transform the American comic book into the major pop culture powerhouse that it is today.

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Marvel Comics (and the movie studio born from it) has generated billions in its time, and none of that would have happened if Lee hadn’t listened to his wife, Joan, in 1961 when Marvel Comics was in trouble. The comic book industry was fairing badly, and Lee was sure that he’d soon be out of a job. Joan had one thing to say to try and lift his spirits: before you leave, do one comic book that you will be proud of.

And in doing this, Lee made history. This comic was Fantastic Four #1, which saw the team-up of Lee and Jack Kirby, and brought with it success that changed everything for Marvel. It signified the arrival of a dynamic, new brand of superheroes, far different from the usual breed. The team fought with each other, one was a rock monster, none of them had secret identities, and they were driven at times by the same impulses we all have. Fans adored it.

This mix of superhero concepts and melodrama continued with Spider-Man, who appeared first in Amazing Fantasy #15, created by Lee and Steve Ditko. Peter Parker was a scrawny teen with glasses, who often lost battles, worried about money, and had a tough time at school due to bullies and knockbacks from disinterested girls. He was a characters that Lee would often say was closest to his heart, and to his own childhood, growing up in New York as a bookish boy with big dreams and a small life.

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Lee’s wife Joan passed away last year, also at the age of 95, and her passing set off a power struggle between friends, advisors, managers, and attorneys. In August, Keya Morgan, a memorabilia dealer and one-time advisor to the Lees, was ordered by a judge to stay away from Lee for three years after allegations of elder abuse surfaced.

Stan Lee continued to work well into his later years and was especially known for his cameos in each of the Marvel Studios releases – something which would become a fan favourite feature to spot in the films, and will surely be sadly missed.

Tom Lallas, Lee’s attorney said in a statement: “Stan Lee is, and forever will be, an American icon. All superhero fans around the world mourn his passing. There will never be another like him. Since the death of his beloved wife Joan on July 6, 2017, his most fervent desire was to join her. May they hold each other in the blissful, warm embrace of their love for eternity.”

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Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said in a statement after Lee’s death, “No one has had more of an impact on my career and everything we do at Marvel Studios than Stan Lee. Stan leaves an extraordinary legacy that will outlive us all. Our thoughts are with his daughter, his family, and the millions of fans who have been forever touched by Stan’s genius, charisma and heart. Excelsior!”

Alan Horn, chariman of Walt Disney Studios remembered Lee saying, “It’s impossible to overstate Stan’s influence on popular culture. I was able to get to know Stan over these past several years through his work with Marvel Studios, and was always impressed by his irrepressible energy and vitality. We’ve lost a true creator. My thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Along with these, many of Hollywood’s biggest names also shared memories of and farewells to Stan Lee, including Avengers stars Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans:

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This is how I’ll always see you, @therealstanlee: as our benevolent leader and king, smiling down from your eternal throne on the generations of imaginations you fed and inspired. You were the first creator whose voice I knew before I’d ever actually heard it. You dreamed up some of my favorite modern myths and created characters that instilled in me a moral barometer, teaching me right from wrong and showing me it’s always better to be a hero instead of a villain. Your characters represented us: yes, they had extraordinary, unbelievable abilities, but they were also reflections of a world we knew, where a Spider-Man is really just a boy who wants to help. You showed me how to interact with the audience whenever you stepped onto Stan’s Soapbox to reach out to the readers. You showed me how to advocate for my field beyond the actual art itself whenever you tub thumped for comic books outside of the medium. It was never enough for you to simply make a comic because you were a true salesman at heart. So you not only sold comics, you sold me *on* comics – so much so that I built a life and career around your dreams and ideals. When you did Mallrats with us, you not only made a lifelong fan’s dream come true, you also lent me comic book credibility that I still get to spend today. And whether it was for @comicbookmenamc or @yogahosers, whenever I asked to borrow your heat again, you were always there for me with a smile. Your love story with Joanie and your long, happy marriage always shined as an example of what I wanted for my personal life. I long admired (and emulated) your kindness and patience and sense of humor when dealing with your public. Outside of my parents, you were the one adult who gave me the most useful life skills I still use today. Thank you, Stan, for making me not only the boy I was but also the man I am today. You had great power and you always used it responsibly, fostering billions of dreamers who all know your name – a name written in the stars for all time. You were not just the literary titan of comic books, you were our modern day Mark Twain. I will miss you all my days, my friend and hero. Excelsior forevermore. #KevinSmith #StanLee

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Thank you for making everyone feel that they could be super, Stan. Your world will live on, and continue to bring joy to people everywhere. Excelsior!

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