Omair Alavi|Published November 17, 2018
Illustration by Muhammad Faizan
Stan Lee, the maestro who passed away on November 12 was behind the creation of some of the most-loved comic characters of Marvel, that went on to achieve stardom during his lifetime.
From The Fantastic Four to Spider-Man, Iron Man to The Incredible Hulk, X-Men to The Avengers, Stan Lee was part of the team that introduced these characters in the Marvel Universe. It was his input that made these superheroes stand out and remain popular all through the years, something that proves that he was far-sighted and knew what the youth wanted. Even at 95, he was as active as a man in his 70s and connected with teenagers as if they were his friends.
popular all through the years, something that proves that he was far-sighted and knew what the youth wanted. Even at 95, he was as active as a man in his 70s and connected with teenagers as if they were his friends.
He was ‘Stan’ for all, the man who taught kids around the world how to dream big and then achieve those dreams.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber on 28th December 1922, he adopted Stan Lee as his pen name to avoid embarrassment, since back in those days being associated with comics wasn’t considered an honourable profession. However, it was this very name that made him popular and he came to be labelled as one of the most famous non-actors in Hollywood.
His cameos in nearly all the Marvel movies were something every fan looked forward to. But the beloved pop culture icon will still be seen in several Marvel projects still under production, as he had already filmed his cameos. Stan has reportedly recorded cameos for Ralph Breaks The Internet and Avengers 4.
His legacy will continue in the shape of his characters and that’s how we will try to pay tribute to the man who rose to prominence later in life, but made life a treat for all those who came in contact with his work.
Here are the most famous Marvel characters that Stan Lee has given us.
The legacy of Stan Lee
Fantastic Four (co-created with Jack Kirby, 1961)
Scientific genius Reed Richards led a team of astronauts who gained superpowers after exposure to cosmic rays during a mission to outer space; he became Mister Fantastic who could stretch his body into any shape or size; his girlfriend Sue Storm became the Invisible Girl, her younger brother Johnny could transform into the Human Torch while their friend Ben Grimm changed into a superhuman with stone-like flesh.
This was the team that was Marvel’s answer to DC’s Justice League and since it connected with the audience because of their easy-going nature, it went onto become a successful animated series as well as feature films.
Stan Lee’s first creation with Jack Kirby is still considered iconic because it has stood the test of time and remains popular even after five decades.
Spider-Man (co-created with Steve Ditko, 1962)
Peter Parker is easily one of the most loved superheroes because of the fact that when not saving the world, he is trying to live a normal life. That characteristic alone connected so well with the audience that they used to look up to Spidey and try to follow his example.
He lost his parents when he was young, his uncle was murdered during a mugging incident while his aunt is always in need of assistance, and he is broke every day of the month. In short, he is the average American and his problems were the problems of his readers. What if he could climb building or swing around, he had to pay bills, keep his girlfriend happy and attend the college on a daily basis!
The Avengers (co-created with Jack Kirby, 1963)
After the success of Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics came up with their second superhero team and dubbed them Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Each and every superhero from the original Avengers including Ant-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the Wasp had made their debut in the first three years of Marvel Comics, and when Captain America joined them a few issues later, it was like a dream come true. Not only did it instil the importance of unity in readers’ minds, but also introduced them to characters that had superpowers that were unheard of at that time!
There was Thor who was an Asgardian God of Thunder; Ant-Man and the Wasp could change their size and render themselves nearly invisible; the Hulk could change personality if he got angry while Iron Man could manufacture any kind of suit and defeat the enemy. Other characters joined their team much later, that too after they had given a tough time to DC Comics. The Avengers attained cult following after the release of the first feature-length film in 2012 and people are anxiously waiting for the release of their fourth film slated for a release next year!
X-Men (co-created with Jack Kirby, 1963)
After the success of Fantastic Four and The Avengers, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby formed another superhero team X-Men where X stood for ‘unknown powers.’
These characters were divided into two groups — X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants — with the former being the good guys (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel, and Iceman) and the latter (led by Magneto) being the ones who wanted to take over the world because they considered themselves superior to human beings. They might have made their comic debut later than the other teams, but it was the success of X-Men, the film that saw Marvel Comics become a force to reckon with in movies as well.
To date, readers connect with them because most teenagers consider themselves outcasts and associate with the X-Men who have ‘been there, done that’.
Doctor Strange (co-created with Steve Ditko, 1963)
A magician as a Superhero … that’s why Doctor Strange is strange! Once an egotistical surgeon, the life of Dr Stephen Vincent Strange changed after his hands were damaged in an accident and the only person in the whole world who could help him was a sorcerer.
After learning the martial as well as mystical arts, Dr Strange decided to use his powers for good and was a changed man when he returned to his native city. His struggle and the turning over a new leaf was not just an example, but a lesson for all those who considered themselves superior to others, because there is always someone better out there.
Daredevil (co-created with Bill Everett, 1964)
What would you do if you lost one of your five senses and wasn’t even responsible for the accident? Blame others, try to get the advice of the best doctors and correct the problem on the first attempt.
Well, blind lawyer Matt Murdock doesn’t agree because he used his weakness to his advantage and emerged as a superhero Daredevil who not only took revenge from those responsible for his dad’s death, but also for ruining his neighbourhood.
By day he is a lawyer who defends innocent people in court and by night he becomes judge, jury and executioner himself with no eyes but a ‘radar sense’ that makes him better than any person with a pair of eyes.
Black Panther (co-created with Jack Kirby, 1966)
And then there was the first superhero of African descent — Black Panther. His alter ego T’Challa was not a teenager or an immigrant but the king (née prince) and protector of Wakanda, one of the most technologically advanced African nations.
On one hand, he is the respected ruler of his country while on the other he relies on his higher education, proficiency in science, mental and physical toughness as well as different sets of skills that make him an integral part of the Marvel Comics.
With his cinematic debut earlier this year, Black Panther has announced his arrival at world stage; he is likely to play an important part in the upcoming Avengers movie as well, since the battle against Thanos took place on his land, in his country and under his command.
Published in Dawn, Young World, November 17th, 2018