Stan Lee, Marvel Comics icon, dead at 95

Legendary comic book writer and Marvel Comics visionary Stan Lee has died at 95.

Posted: Nov 13, 2018 5:37 AM
Updated: Nov 13, 2018 5:59 AM

Stan Lee, the colorful Marvel Comics patriarch who helped usher in a new era of superhero storytelling -- and saw his creations become a giant influence in the movie business -- has died.

He was 95.

Kirk Schneck, an attorney for Lee's daughter, tells CNN the comic giant was taken by ambulance from his Los Angeles home on Monday morning to Cedar's Sinai Medical Center, where he later died. The cause of death is not yet known, according to Schneck.

Lee began his career at what was then Timely Comics in 1939. Over the years he was a writer, editor and occasional illustrator. But, bored with the output, he was preparing to leave the company when history took a sudden turn.

For many years, the business had been dominated by DC (then National) Comics, creators of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern.

In the late '50s, DC started reimagining its heroes -- kicking off what comics historians call the "Silver Age" of the business -- but those figures were still, largely, otherworldly and two-dimensional, living in made-up places such as Metropolis and Gotham City.

In the early '60s, Lee was asked to come up with a team of superheroes to compete against DC's Justice League. With the notable help of artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he helped instigate a revolution, though Lee didn't see it that way at the time.

"If my publisher hadn't said 'let's do superhero stories,' I'd probably still be doing 'A Kid Called Outlaw,' 'The Two-Gun Kid' or 'Millie the Model' or whatever I was doing at the time," he told CNN in 2013.

Marvel revitalized the comics business with a series of flawed, more human superheroes. Its figures lived in the real world -- a few were based in New York City, with all its dirt and clamor -- and struggled with everyday challenges, whether it was paying the rent or wondering about their purposes in life.

First came the Fantastic Four, a superhero team probably most famous for the grumpy, rock-skinned Thing. Following that success Lee and Marvel introduced such characters as Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men and Daredevil.

These new superheroes -- all created in a burst between 1961 and 1964 -- were hugely popular and allowed Marvel to surpass DC in both sales and fashionableness.

Spider-Man, in particular, became the imprint's signature character: a neurotic photographer named Peter Parker who, after being bitten by a radioactive spider, develops spider-like powers. Parker was forever clashing with newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson (an angry, cigar-chomping martinet who was no Perry White), wondering about his relationship with Mary Jane Watson and worrying about his fragile Aunt May. Crime fighting was the least of his concerns.

"I never thought that Spider-Man would become the worldwide icon that he is. I just hoped the books would sell and I'd keep my job," Lee said in 2006.

Many of the characters were developed for television with varying degrees of success. But it was the emergence of the "Marvel Universe" in the movies, especially with the "X-Men" franchise and the Sam Raimi-directed "Spider-Man" (2002), that truly made the brand ubiquitous. In 2009, the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment -- the licensing arm of the comic-book brand -- for $4 billion.

By that point, Lee had long since become more of a company figurehead rather than a writer and editor in the day-to-day trenches. He became the company's editorial director and publisher in 1972 and eventually immersed himself in spreading the Marvel gospel (often with the exclamation, "Excelsior!") He's had bit parts in most of the films featuring the company's characters.

He was occasionally criticized for egotistically cheerleading for himself as much as Marvel. "Stan the Brand," the authors of "Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book" called him, pointedly.

It wasn't all joy for Lee. Though the success of the movies made the characters worth billions, Lee maintained that he saw little of that wealth. Even so, he saw more than artist Kirby, who many comics historians credit with molding a number of characters. Over the years, the credit for the characters -- and, therefore, the profits -- has been the subject of court cases, some involving Kirby or his family.

The characters' impact, however, is indisputable.

Marvel characters are known the world over, and its films have become huge successes.

"I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers," he told the Washington Post. "And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people's lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you're able to entertain people, you're doing a good thing."

He retained a lifelong passion for the medium he helped mold, and wouldn't tolerate disdain.

"Comic book should be written as one word. So from now on, I want you to remember that," he said in a 2012 YouTube video. "They are not funny books. They are not comic books, they are comicbooks! Remember that, or incur my wrath."

Tragedy struck Lee last year when he lost Joan, his wife of 69 years, who died at the age of 95.

The couple had a true partnership and Marvel fans came to know Joan Lee for her voice-over work as Miss Forbes and Madame Web in the animated versions of "Fantastic Four" and "Spider-Man." She also had a cameo in "X-Men: Apocalypse" in 2016.

Lee filed a suit against his former company, Pow! Entertainment in May, alleging it conspired with two employees to steal his identity.

The company announced in July that the suit had been dismissed by Lee.

"The whole thing has been confusing to everyone, including myself and the fans, but I am now happy to be surrounded by those who want the best for me," Lee said in a statement. "I am thrilled to put the lawsuit behind me, get back to business with my friends and colleagues at POW! and launch the next wave of amazing characters and stories!"

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34574

Reported Deaths: 2134
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9853578
Lake3616190
Allen161869
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph127434
Hendricks116971
Hamilton115993
Johnson1105108
Madison58659
Porter53928
Bartholomew51135
Clark50441
LaPorte43323
Howard40828
Tippecanoe4023
Jackson3891
Delaware38537
Shelby37322
Hancock33827
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2742
Montgomery24117
White2358
Noble23221
Clinton2321
Decatur22431
Grant21122
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18211
Greene16924
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Lawrence16324
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Kosciusko1351
Jennings1304
Orange12822
Scott1203
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Marshall1082
Carroll932
Daviess8816
Steuben832
Wayne825
LaGrange812
Wabash782
Newton7810
Fayette777
Jasper671
Washington521
Jay520
Clay511
Fulton491
Rush472
Randolph473
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley423
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Brown331
Perry330
Wells320
Benton300
Huntington282
Knox280
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Posey160
Adams151
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35513

Reported Deaths: 2155
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5862262
Cuyahoga4444226
Hamilton2672150
Marion266628
Lucas2267242
Pickaway207437
Mahoning1431174
Summit1420173
Butler89329
Columbiana79353
Stark72791
Lorain68759
Montgomery66316
Trumbull57348
Belmont42912
Warren37321
Miami35730
Tuscarawas3434
Ashtabula33934
Medina33722
Delaware33713
Portage32557
Lake30812
Wood29446
Clark2856
Geauga28432
Wayne27450
Fairfield2676
Licking24810
Allen21232
Mercer2117
Clermont2115
Richland2003
Erie17214
Darke17021
Madison1567
Washington11819
Crawford1144
Morrow1071
Greene1015
Ottawa9916
Putnam9214
Sandusky7911
Monroe7812
Auglaize733
Ross712
Hocking694
Jefferson672
Hardin610
Huron581
Williams551
Union521
Muskingum520
Hancock501
Clinton431
Shelby433
Wyandot412
Fulton410
Fayette400
Coshocton400
Logan390
Holmes391
Preble371
Guernsey351
Defiance342
Carroll313
Lawrence300
Brown291
Champaign281
Highland251
Knox251
Vinton212
Seneca202
Ashland200
Athens181
Perry181
Scioto160
Henry150
Paulding140
Jackson140
Adams101
Harrison100
Gallia81
Van Wert60
Pike60
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 61°
Angola
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 61°
Decatur
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 63°
Van Wert
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 63°
Sun Continues Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events