Comic book legend Stan Lee died on Monday at age 95, per previous reporting from the Inquisitr.
The editor for Marvel for many years during its heyday of comic book publication, Lee was responsible for creating some of the most iconic characters the genre has ever seen — many who are now household names thanks to the Marvel movies that have come about in recent years, but some who have been in the American lexicon for many years long before the movies came about, according to reporting from CBR.
His role in creating the characters many fans knew and loved cannot be overstated. Here are 10 of some of the most well-known Marvel characters Lee had a hand in creating.
A former CIA agent with skills in reconnaissance and espionage, Nick Fury, one of the members of World War II’s “Howling Commandos” unit, first appeared on Marvel’s pages in 1963. Most moviegoing fans know that Samuel L. Jackson portrays Fury nowadays, but the character, originally a white man, has also been portrayed by none other than David Hasselhoff in the late 90s. We’ll let you decide which you think is better, though we think we might know who you’ll choose…
Created along with artist Jack Kirby (a legend in his own right), T’Challa, the king of the recluse nation of Wakanda, first appeared in “Fantastic Four” #52 in 1966. Deriving his superhuman strength powers from a plant in his home country, Black Panther predated the incorporation of the 1960s political organization with the same name by just a few months, according to The Wrap. The confusion did force the company to change the name of the character to “Black Leopard,” but the name didn’t stick, and a few years later, he was back to calling himself Black Panther.
The Sorcerer Supreme was created by Lee in 1963 along with Steve Ditko. Lee said he was inspired by “Chandu the Magician,” a radio program in the 1930s he listened to as a child. Ditko’s illustrations in the comics were beyond what anyone had seen in comics up to that point — if you’ve seen the movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch, it’s a lot like that.
“The Man Without Fear” was created in 1964 by Lee with artist Bill Everett. The story of Daredevil is that, as a young boy named Matt Murdoch, he was blinded in an accident that left him blind but also enhanced his other senses. Daredevil often had an internal struggle that fans gripped onto, that of enforcing the law (Murdoch was a lawyer) versus taking justice into his own hands. Another immense creation that came about through Daredevil? His arch-nemesis, the businessman/mobster Wilson Fisk.
The Incredible Hulk
Another creation he made alongside Steve Ditko, Lee has said in the past that the big green guy we know as the Hulk was inspired by two classic stories — Frankenstein’s monster, and the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Hulk first appeared in his own solo series in 1962 but was canceled after just six issues. Fortunately, Lee liked the character so much that he brought him back frequently in Marvel’s “Tales to Astonish,” until the title was renamed in issue #102…back to “The Incredible Hulk.”
It is said that a man dies two deaths.
The first when his body fails him.
The second when they are forgotten.
Like many of his characters, Stan Lee may very well be immortal. He will not be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/7lDKFXrwmo
— Boogie2988 (@Boogie2988) November 12, 2018
Based on the Norse god of the same name, Thor was a creation that involved artist Jack Kirby as well as Lee’s brother Larry Leiber. Thor first appeared (along with his hammer Mjolnir) in “Journey into Mystery” #83.
The character of Iron Man is probably the most iconic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks in large part to Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark. First appearing in “Tales of Suspense” in 1963, Lee wasn’t sure that fans would take to the character as well as others he had created. Stark was, after all, a profiteer off of machines of war, and in 1963 young people weren’t too keen on the concept of war. Lee saw an opportunity from that, according to reporting from SyFy.
“I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him.”
Okay, this isn’t one character — but it’s a necessary addition to this list due to how influential the series has been on media for the past few decades. The Uncanny X-Men, created by Lee alongside Jack Kirby, first appeared in 1963 (sans Wolverine, of course, who would appear later and was not a creation of Lee’s). Lee had frequently touted the group of mutants, who were always looked down upon by society in his comics, as allegorical for the times (according to Encyclopedia Britannica) in hopes of pointing out the hypocrisies and downsides of bigotry, sexism, and other prejudices.
No list of characters brought to life by Stan Lee is complete without talking about Spider-Man. Alongside Steve Ditko, Lee created the web-crawler in 1962, where he first appeared in “Amazing Fantasy” #15. Spider-Man is by far the most successful character for Marvel, bringing in around $1 billion for the company every year on his own.
What made him so special? Comic book heroes at the time were always adults, but those reading the stories were children. Peter Parker, a mild-mannered smart kid from Queens, was someone the readers could relate to and brought about new problems for a superhero to solve — like how to stop the Green Goblin from terrorizing New York while making sure you get home in time to have dinner with Aunt May.
The Fantastic Four
Before any of the characters above came about, before any of their own successes, there was the superhero team that started it all for Marvel — the Fantastic Four.
Before this superhero team came about, Marvel was a completely different format of comic books. Rather than having superheroes, as reporting from Forbes pointed out, Marvel’s focus was on westerns, horror titles, and romance. Lee almost quit the company out of frustration before the idea of Fantastic Four came out, and in 1961 he and Jack Kirby published the iconic group’s first issue.
It was an immediate success. The team composed of Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), who could stretch himself into any shape; The Invisible Woman (Susan Richards, nee Storm), who could bend light, turning herself invisible and creating energy fields; Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch; and The Thing (Ben Grimm), a rocklike human with an unbreakable body.
Without the Fantastic Four, there’d be no Marvel – nor any of the amazing characters brought to life by the late Stan Lee.