Stan Lee, who first revolutionized the comic book industry by creating imperfect superheroes with all-too-human flaws and later helped filmmakers use those same Marvel Comics characters to change movies forever, has died at the age of 95.
Lee served in the Army during World War II, writing for training films.
Working with artist Jack Kirby, Lee created the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and the X-Men as the first of a new breed of comic book heroes. With Steve Ditko, he gave us Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. As editor of Marvel Comics, Lee became the public face of Marvel and also oversaw the revival and modernization of 1940s character Captain America.
A natural showman, Lee loved interacting with the media, which always could rely on him for a colorful quote. That media attention often gave him all the credit for his shared Marvel creations, causing rifts between Lee and his artist co-creators.
Although he no longer had an active role at the company, Lee’s cameo appearances in the wildly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe were beloved by fans and movie critics alike. Lee’s wide variety of characters include a WWII general in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Peter Parker’s school bus driver in “Avengers: Infinity War” and a drunk, storytelling WWII veteran in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Stanley Martin Lieber was born in New York City on Dec. 28, 1922. His parents, Celia and Jack, immigrated from Romania, and Lieber was raised in the Jewish faith. Lee graduated from Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx at the age of 16 and joined the Depression-era WPA Federal Theater Project.
Lee enlisted in the Army after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was assigned to the Signal Corps as a telephone lineman. Once his commanding officers realized that the recruit had a talent for writing, he was transferred to the Film Training Division and given the extremely rare military occupational specialty (MOS) of “playwright.”
Other notable figures who served alongside Lee in the film division include Oscar-winning director Frank Capra (“It’s a Wonderful Life”), cartoonist Charles Addams (The Addams Family) and Theodor Geisel (the future Dr. Seuss).
After the war, Lee returned to his job at Timely Comics, the company that later was renamed Marvel. He stayed with the company until the mid-1990s and launched several other ventures before reuniting with Marvel for his MCU movie appearances. He made his final, posthumous cameo in “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019.
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