Stanley Lieber was a kid in New York with a vivid imagination, a drive to tell a story, and an inherent call to do something greater than himself. He did and, due respect to the troika of Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, and Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, died as the patriarch of the comic book industry.
After 95 years, one would think the man who would become Stan Lee had a life rich with experience and left nothing in the tank. Only, not so much.
He still had ideas to do more cameos in Marvel CBMs. He probably had screen writing angles inside of his head. He arguably wanted to extend the reach of Marvel further into pop culture. Stan Lee was still spry at his advanced age, which is probably why his death was a touch shocking. You expect a nonagenarian to buy the farm but not that guy.
And now, here we are — all benefiting from his legacy, all appreciating what he truly provided, all languishing in his wake. So, now what?
It’s only fitting for a man whose life revolved around telling stories that we serve him a story that revolved around him. In the 1960s, this teenage kid was dreaming of what his future generations would consume. He single-handedly shaped nerd culture because he thought it would be cool to have grown-ups rock spandex and a snarky attitude.
In 1992, Lee told the Washington Post that his goal with creating his characters was “to make them real flesh-and-blood characters with personality.” That has always been the intrigue of his characters — a nerd that gets bit by a spider, a soldier froze to death but back with new powers and his same ethics, a meek doctor victimized by a freak accident to become a monster, a Marine who becomes a vigilante against the forces of evil.
Each of these characters (and so many more) all carry one thing in common — the internal struggle between being right and doing what is right. Stan Lee channeled the hometown boroughs of New York post-WWII. The tense racial relations seen in Black Panther, the federal acrimony seen in Captain America, the cry for mentors during that time found in X-Men, the dank void in female leadership was found in SHIELD, Fantastic Four, and X-Men.
It’s been said in the comic world that the mold was broken when they made Stan Lee. While that may be true, he reshaped it and re-shattered that mold time and time again. When there was a plight in America, he talked about it. Where there were social ills that were left unanswered, he created a strip to ask questions.
Stan Lee was ahead of his time in so many ways, which is why his story is the only one left untold from his life. And it should be told, if out of respect than anything.
Many people, many fans have seen this picture and said, tweeted, and posted what a cool image of Stan Lee that is…only, it’s not.
That is the great Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad, Godzilla, and Malcolm in the Middle fame. He is known for taking on a role and taking over the character. Did you see his depiction of President Lyndon B. Johnson? Watch it and get back to us.
A couple years ago, Cranston did a movie called The Infiltrator. It was a decent movie that holds up his acting chops, but not so much at the box office.
Some comic book nerd from Tumblr (EntertainMeWeakly) saw this movie poster and determined a look-alike was among us — a doppelganger of the most geeky kind. And the hero image above was the result.
There, we have a vintage Stan Lee apparition, trademark aviator shades and all. And in those specs, images of two of Lee’s most noteworthy creations, Iron Man and Captain America. It was epic. It was inspiring. And it was viral within seconds.
Would Marvel actually create a movie about the man who has created all their movies? The conversation fizzled a little, thanks to Lee’s spry demeanor and consistent array of cameos, but now that he is gone, the chatter has seen a significant uptick — both the good and the bad reasons.
Sure, we get to see a young Stan in World War II. Yes, the foundational moments of Marvel and its iconic characters. But, will they focus on times (allegedly) when Jack Kirby created the characters and Stan Lee became the ‘Vince McMahon’ or ‘Don King’ of the comic business?
He was a master promoter with masterful ideas, so there has always been some question as to how many of the iconic ideas were his. Regardless, that’s up to Marvel how all that will be handled. What matters is that a movie needs to be done. We have our subject matter. We have our timeline. We even have our possible star to portray Lee.
According to In Touch Weekly, back in 2002, he said,
“Someone wants to do a movie of my life now and he’s writing a script, and I said to him, ‘What the hell could you do? I’ve never been arrested, I haven’t taken drugs, I’ve had the same wife for 54 years… where’s anything of interest to people?'”
Oh, I’m sure Hollywood could muster a little interest, don’t you?