Most everyone who reads comic books knows who Stan Lee is. He is a living legend who helped to usher in comic book superheroes such as the Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man, and my personal favorite, The Incredible Hulk. Stan Lee just recently turned 90, which is amazing since he has lived through the Golden, Silver, and now the Modern Age of comics.
I finally got the chance to view his documentary and it is fairly straight forward. It outlines his entire life, from his humble beginnings during the Great Depression, up to his rise in popularity today as being the Godfather of Comics. By the way, I did not stutter when I said he’s been around since the Great Depression. Stan Lee has gone through “hell and high water” to get to where he is now. Stan Lee started working random jobs in his early days until he finally landed a gig at Timely Comics as an assistant. I shouldn’t really say assistant, more like an errand boy.
Stan filled this basic role and eventually fell into his role as a Creative Head during the young age of 18. When Stan Lee landed this position, he accepted it happily since this would now give him creative freedom at Timely Comics, which in time would become our beloved MARVEL Comics. He would soon take a bit of time off of this due to several of the artists and writers leaving Timely Comics to join the military during World War II. Some of you might not know, but Stan also worked with Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) during this early time in his life. Upon returning from service, Stan would do two things that would change his life. The first was marrying the love of his life Joan Lee, and the second would be befriending artist Steve Ditko and the also famous, Jack Kirby. MARVEL comics would soon be born.
This creative team gave birth to our favored superheroes of today. During the early years of comics, other superheroes were fighting imaginary foes not from our world. However, Lee and Kirby grounded the first early heroes and had them deal with people and social situations that we were all familiar with during that time. Such as Captain America fighting the Nazis, the X-Men fighting for equality, and The Incredible Hulk dealing with the consequences of rage and violence. In addition, Stan Lee had the majority of theses stories located in our very own New York City, which helped to boost sales. By the 60s through the 70s, MARVEL would soon surpass DC Comics, who were widely known as the juggernaut of comics.
Comics during those days, much like video games and movies of today, were also targeted by the media and the government by stating that they fueled violence in society. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Because of these accusations, Stan and Kirby would white-out any kind of violence in all of their comics just to abide by the demands of society. You know the phrase, “The more things change. The more they stay the same.” ? This is the glove that fits for our brainless “Let’s go find something else to blame!” mainstream media. Anyways, I’m going off point.
Stan Lee has had his fair share of ups and downs throughout his life. There was a time when Stan’s company “Stan Lee Media” and MARVEL had filed for bankruptcy in the late 90s and early 2000s. However MARVEL has bounced back stronger than ever, and despite all this, Stan Lee is always seen smiling and seems to always be the happiest man on the planet. I really couldn’t blame him since he’s seen it all. From his early beginnings as an errand boy, Stan Lee has seen all his characters grow from the comic book pages to the big screen. His characters being portrayed by famous Hollywood actors such as Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (Iron Man), or Chris Evans as Johnny Storm (Human Torch) and Steve Rogers (Captain America), would only seem to increase Stan’s constant jovial attitude.
As a person who enjoys how and where things began, I personally recommend this documentary. Stan Lee’s rise to fame is almost like a Cinderella story…but for guys. He’s gone from rags to riches, and throughout all the rises and falls, Stan Lee has one thing that keeps him constant…his never ending enthusiasm. Excelsior!