Joan Lee: Stan Lee's Wife Convinced Him Not To Quit Comic Books In 1960, Leading To Birth Of Marvel Universe

Joan Lee: Stan Lee’s Wife Convinced Him Not To Quit Comic Books In 1960s, Leading To Birth Of Marvel Universe

Joan Lee had a word of advice for husband Stan Lee when he was depressed and ready to quit the comic book industry — try writing just one more story that you really like.

Stan heeded his wife’s advice, and from there spawned the Marvel Age that brought iconic characters like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and The Incredible Hulk.

Joan Lee died on Thursday in Los Angeles at the age of 93, prompting an outpouring of condolences and remembrances for the woman by the Marvel Comics legend’s side through 69 years of marriage. Joan Lee had suffered a stroke earlier in the year and had been hospitalized, the Hollywood Report noted.

The former British hat model was more than just a devoted partner to Stan Lee, but also served as his inspiration for some of the most popular comic book characters of all time.

In the early 1960s, Stan Lee and his wife were living in New York while he worked for Timely/Atlas Comics, which was the forerunner to Marvel Comics. The comic book industry was coming down from a post-WWII peak and being overtaken by war movies and science fiction, the Hollywood Reporter noted.

Stan Lee had grown depressed at his career — he had originally wanted to be a novelist, the Hollywood Reporter noted — and was ready to quit. That’s when his wife gave him some advice.

“Before you quit,” Joan suggested, “why don’t you write one comic you are proud of?” So Stan Lee and partner Jack Kirby came up with a new band of flawed superheroes known as The Fantastic Four, which sparked a creative period in which Lee and Kirby developed an entire universe of real and flawed heroes — the Marvel Universe.
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As the Hollywood Reporter noted, Joan Lee’s advice turned into what today is a powerhouse of comic books, movies, video games, and much more.

“Over the next half-dozen years — The Marvel Age, it has been called — great characters poured out of Lee’s imagination, all flawed in some way — Spider-Man (teen geek), Daredevil (blind hero), Hulk (anger issues), X-Men (hated for their differences). Lee’s superheroes lived in a real world — the Avengers’ Mansion was on Fifth Avenue, the X-Men’s school in Westchester County, N.Y. And they occupied a shared universe — Spider-Man auditioned for the Fantastic Four, the Thing played poker with Nick Fury. Lee pioneered geek fandom, addressing readers as friends and peppering stories with insider winks.”

Joan Lee continued to play a major role in the Marvel Universe as the heroes moved from the comic book pages to television. As ET Online reported, Joan voiced several characters on animated Marvel shows during the 1990s, including the voice of Madame Web in Spider-Man. She also made a cameo in the 2016 movie X-Men: Apocalypse.

Joan Lee’s words of inspiration ended up being quite lucrative to Stan Lee and Marvel Studios. As ComicBook noted, the collective Marvel Cinematic Universe has generated $11 billion in box office revenue, a total that grows significantly with each release.

[Featured Image by Mark Mainz/Getty Images]

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