When did Stan Lee create Marvel? Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber; December 28, 1922 – November 12, 2018) was an American comic book writer, editor, publisher, and producer. He rose through the ranks of a family-run business called Timely Comics which would later become Marvel Comics. He was the primary creative leader for two decades, leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics and film industries.
In collaboration with others at Marvel—particularly co-writers/artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko—he co-created iconic characters, including superheroes Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Ant-Man, the Wasp, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, the Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow. These and other characters’ introductions in the 1960s pioneered a more naturalistic approach in superhero comics, and in the 1970s Lee challenged the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to changes in its policies. In the 1980s he pursued the development of Marvel properties in other media, with mixed results.
When did Stan Lee create Marvel?
In 1961, Stan Lee was a co-founder of Marvel Comics. Timely Comics was the original name of Marvel Comics until 1961, when Stan Lee changed the name to better represent the company’s new approach. Compared to previous superheroes, Lee aimed to create superheroes who were more approachable and human. In addition, he aimed to write more nuanced and intricate stories.
Lee’s novel take on superheroes was a big hit. One of the most well-known comic book publishers worldwide, Marvel Comics, rose to prominence quite fast. Among the most well-known superheroes ever made are Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Avengers, all of whom were created by Stan Lee.
Popular culture has greatly benefited from the contributions of Lee. Marvel Comics has been adapted for the big screen, small screen, video games, and other media. Some of the most well-known and adored figures in the world are Marvel’s superheroes.
Early life and role at Marvel Comics
After graduating from high school at age 16, Lieber was hired as an editorial assistant for Timely Comics, and in 1942 he was promoted to editor. By that time he had begun writing comic-book scripts for Timely as Stan Lee, a pseudonym that eventually became his legal name. In the 1940s and ’50s—during which time the group, later named Atlas, struggled financially—Lee created several comic-book series, including The Witness, The Destroyer, Jack Frost, Whizzer, and Black Marvel.
In 1961 Lee and artist Jack Kirby created The Fantastic Four, about four astronauts who gain superpowers after a cosmic incident. The series made him and Atlas—now known as Marvel—major forces in the comics world. One year later Lee and artist Steve Ditko created Spider-Man. Lee, Kirby, and Ditko adopted a collaborative workflow that came to be known as “the Marvel method.”
The technique gave artists significantly more input on story plotting, and it allowed Marvel to produce new content at a dizzying rate. The books joined a roster of increasingly successful series that also included The Incredible Hulk. Lee and Kirby added another winner to the group when they created The X-Men in 1963. A distinctive feature of Lee’s comic-book heroes is that they combine superhuman powers with human insecurities and emotions. Marvel continued to prosper, and in 1972 Lee became publisher and editorial director of the group.
Later work and participation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
After working for Marvel in an official capacity for nearly 60 years, Lee began to pursue other projects, and in 1999 he formed Stan Lee Media, an Internet entertainment company built around his creations. Eventually his role at Marvel became that of chairman emeritus.
Lee’s new firm did well with its first project, an animated online series called 7th Portal, which featured aliens who enter Earth through a “7th portal”—the Internet. After this initial success, however, the company was beset by a number of lawsuits and corruption charges. It filed for bankruptcy in February 2001. In 2004 Pow Entertainment was established for Lee’s various new characters and franchises. He and his partners sold the company in 2017.
Film adaptations based on the series that Lee cocreated were highly successful. X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002) launched blockbuster franchises that earned billions of dollars in box-office revenue worldwide. Other Lee creations to receive the Hollywood treatment were Daredevil (2003), Hulk (2003), and Iron Man (2008).
Lee was often featured in cameo roles in those films, a tradition that continued after Disney purchased Marvel in 2009. A flood of Marvel films followed the acquisition, including those based on Lee-Kirby creations such as Thor (2011), the Avengers (2012), and Ant-Man (2015). Lee’s cameos became fan-favourite “Easter eggs” within the Marvel Cinematic Universe—as the films’ shared world came to be known—and he eventually appeared in dozens of Marvel movies, television shows, and video games.
His brief role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) clarified that Lee was, in fact, portraying the same character in each of these appearances and that his recurring role has been that of a chronicler of the events of the Marvel Universe. In November 2002 Lee filed a $10 million lawsuit against Marvel after failing to receive any profits from the first Spider-Man movie, and in 2005 the court ruled in favour of Lee.
In addition to his work in other media, Lee wrote books on comics and on his own life. His published works include Origins of Marvel Comics (1974), Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee (2002), and Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book (2003). In 2008 he was awarded a National Medal of Arts.
How Many Marvel Heroes And Villains Did Stan Lee Co-Create?
Without Stan Lee, Marvel Comics wouldn’t exist. During his decades with Marvel, the late writer and editor wrote thousands of stories that spanned genres and generations. With visionary collaborators like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita and dozens of others, he helped lay the foundation for the modern Marvel Universe and anchored its fantastic ideas with deeply human heroes and villains.
Even after Stan stepped away from a creative role to become Marvel’s chief ambassador to the world, the company continued to add new stories to its “House of Ideas” with the characters that he helped establish.
Now, in celebration of his life’s work, CBR takes a chronological look back through Lee’s Marvel work to see just how many Marvel Universe characters he co-created. While he didn’t create any of these characters without a few collaborators, Lee played a meaningful role in bringing all of them to life, weaving them into the tapestry of the Marvel Universe.
While some of these characters were later folded into the fabric of the Marvel Universe, others feature characters who only existed for a handful of pages. A lot of these comics have tenuous connections to the modern Marvel Universe at best, so we’ll be taking a conservative approach with these titles and only including characters who are explicitly parts of Marvel continuity.
When Stan Lee started working for Timely Comics, Marvel’s predecessor, the first generation of Marvel superheroes was already in full swing. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had already created Captain America, Carl Burgos had already created the original Human Torch, and Bill Everett had already created Namor the Sub-Mariner. Stan Lee’s first published work for Timely was a prose story about Captain America in 1941’s Captain America Comics #3.
After Simon and Kirby left the publisher in 1941, the 18-year-old Lee was promoted to editor-in-chief, where he continued to work across Timely’s titles. Heroes like the icy Jack Frost, who Lee created with Charles Nicholas, and the super-strong Destroyer, who Lee created with Jack Binder, were fairly successful and joined Captain America in battling the Axis powers, along with roughly 60 other Lee-created characters of note from this era.
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