Stan Lee, Marvel Comics Legend, Dead at 95

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics visionary and creator of beloved characters such as Spider Man, Iron Man, X-men, and more, has died at the age of 95.

Kirk Schneck, an attorney for Lee’s daughter, told CNN that the comic giant was taken by an ambulance to Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center on Monday morning, where he later died. The cause of his death is unknown at this time, according to Schneck.

“Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created. A superhero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain, and to connect,” Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said. “The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart.”

Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, the comic visionary said that as a child he loved to read, but was never particularly interested in comic books. Lee began his career at Timely Comics, which would eventually become Marvel Comics, in 1939, once saying in an interview that his assistant position consisted of proofreading, refilling ink for the artists and other remedial tasks.

via Gage Skidmore - Flickr

According to ABC News, Lee made his comic debut in 1941, writing a Captain America comic book, and used the pseudonym “Stan Lee” for the first time. In the early 1960s, Lee was asked to come up with a group of superheroes to go up against DC’s Justice League, and with the help of artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee began a revolution, creating superheroes with human flaws, something that had not been done in the comic world before.

First came the Fantastic Four. The superhero team became popular, with the grumpy, rock-skinned Thing becoming the most notable character. Following the Fantastic Four’s success came characters Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men and Daredevil.

Lee said of all of the characters he helped to create, Peter Parker, the lonely, high-school student alter ego to Spider Man, was always the one with whom he related the most.

“He’s just an ordinary guy. And underneath all this wonderful exterior, I’m just an ordinary guy. He had so many problems and nothing ever worked out perfectly for him. He was always in some sort of trouble. Yeah, I could feel for old Peter,” Lee told AMC in 2012.

“I never thought that Spider-Man would become the worldwide icon that he is. I just hoped the books would sell and I'd keep my job,” Lee said in 2006, according to CNN.

Lee served as Marvel Comics’ editor-in-chief until 1972, when he became publisher. He helped create the comic world’s first mainstream black superhero, the Black Panther, in 1966, and created strong female superheroes, drawing inspiration from Joan Clayton Boocock Lee, his wife of more than 60 years.

“She inspired me,” Lee told the Huffington Post in 2012. “Because I’ve spent most of my life with such a beautiful, talented, challenging female, I feel I’ve gained, and am still gaining, a great deal of knowledge about the feminine mystique and about personal relationships.”

Lee’s wife died last year.

Though Lee, who developed the catchphrase, “Excelsior!”, had in the later years become more of a company figurehead rather than an everyday writer or editor, he became quite the cult icon. Making one of his first cameos in “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” in 1989, Lee went on to be featured in every Marvel movie following “X-Men” (2000).

“I’d like to be remembered as a guy who provided some entertainment for people, and who enjoyed doing it,” Lee told the Archive of American Television in 2004. “I’m not a guy who thinks much really of posterity or how I’m remembered, because you know I’ve never believed in this building, this business of building statues for people, cause once you’re gone you don’t know about it. I mean, once I’m not here anymore it’s not going to matter to me if I’m remembered or not. I’d like to be remembered while I’m alive, that would be nice.”