Stan Lee, a writer and editor often credited with helping American comics grow up by redefining the notion of a superhero, including the self-doubting Spider-Man, the bickering Fantastic Four, the swaggering Iron Man and the raging Incredible Hulk, died Nov. 12 at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 95.
Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the comic-book-themed novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” said in an interview that Mr. Lee’s best-known characters were “vain, pompous, conceited. . . . Everything that works in comic books today is indebted to him for that.”
“There’s no question that Stan and the innovations he came up with saved the comic book and the superhero,” Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, told The Washington Post in 2011.”He made comics interesting and relevant and fun again.”
In 2002, “Spider-Man,” directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire, opened at the box office and eventually grossed more than $800 million worldwide. Citing a previously ignored line in his contract, Mr. Lee sued Marvel for 10 percent of the profits in what he told Variety was “the friendliest lawsuit in the world.” He won the case in 2005. Retaining his lifetime contract with Marvel, he started a new comic company, POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment.
The first X-Men and Spider-Man films turned Marvel characters into box-office juggernauts. In the past decade alone, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grossed more than $17.5 billion globally.
Mr. Lee, who has had cameos in many Marvel-based films, was known for an economy of humility. As a teenage boss at Marvel, he would sit on a file cabinet and yell, “I am God!” at his artists sitting below. In his memoir, he said, “If I may be totally candid, I’m my own biggest fan.”
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