Anyone who knows me, or who has read some of my previous blog articles, will know that I’m a huge Marvel Studios fan. I recently did a school project which involved creating a presentation about a successful entrepreneur that I admire. Naturally, I chose Stan Lee, the creator of the original Marvel comics, so here’s my take on his life story.
Who is Stan Lee?
Stanley Martin Lieber was born in New York on Thursday, 28 December 1922. He was a comic writer and is best known for his Marvel comics and films. After finishing school at the age of 16, he got a job with Timely Comics and in 1942, became an editor there. He started writing his own comic books in the early 1960s and started working with Jack Kirby there too. He married Joan Boocock on Tuesday, 5 December 1950 and they had two children. Sadly, he died on Monday, 12 November 2018, aged 95.
What did he create, and why?
Stan Lee created the comic book company, Marvel Comics, with Jack Kirby in 1961 after creating the characters, The Fantastic Four. He also created the famous characters, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, among others. In total, he inspired the creation of around 37,000 different Marvel comics over a period of 80 years. From those comics, he created films series like Iron Man, Thor and The Avengers.
He created the Marvel Comics company in 1961 with Jack Kirby because he was interested in creating comics and wanted to share them with the world. He also created the company because, when he created his first few comics, people were saying “you can’t make a company out of this” and “these comics are no good”. He didn’t let these people ruin his idea and, as a result, he was motivated to keep going.
He started creating these comics because he was very interested in writing and making stories. He also had a lot of skills and these helped him to create a highly successful company. Some of his skills and characteristics included creativity, artistry, positivity, persistence and ambition, which he used to make his comics more interesting and exciting.
Excelsior is a Latin word that means “ever upward” and “still higher”. Stan Lee said this all the time because he truly believed that the phrase summarised how he felt about his life in general. The word is very positive and he often used it to motivate people to do what they’re interested in, instead of what other people tell them to do.
When he was younger, his family did not have much and they struggled a lot. That didn’t affect Stan’s dream and he also used this word to describe how he got to where he was in life.
Stan Lee donated a lot of money to the American Heritage Centre at the University of Wyoming from 1981-2001. He was also asked by the National Institute of Mental Health to use an anti-drug theme in some of his comics, and he did duly so in many of them because he believed it was worthwhile and informative for the younger generation.
Another good thing that Stan did was to create a superhero of African descent, Black Panther. This was something that had not been done before and he was heavily praised for it. He also created the Stan Lee Foundation in 2010 to promote diversity, national literature, culture and art.
Modern Day Marvel
Marvel Comics is still a huge company today, selling lots of comics and making lots of money. The Marvel Comics HQ is in California, USA and Kevin Feige is the current President of the company.
Their movie division is called Marvel Studios and this has become even more popular for them. There are about 50 Marvel movies in total and the most famous ones are set in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), such as Spider-Man and Iron Man. Avengers: Endgame is currently the biggest box office movie and made $1.2 billion at the box office in its first weekend.
Here are another couple of facts about Stan Lee that I found interesting:
- When he was younger, he wrote obituaries but left the job because he felt it was too sad.
- He made a cameo appearance in every single Marvel movie (before he died in 2018) and these scenes have become really famous.
- He was inaugurated into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.
- He gave the keynote speech at the 2017 Graduation Ceremony in the University of Los Angeles. His advice about believing in yourself is one of my favourite videos of him.
- He took the name Stan Lee when he started writing comics because it was shorter and easier to say than his real name, Stanley Lieber.
- The parent company that he created is now called Marvel Entertainment, is now one of the largest companies in the world, and was bought by Disney in 2009.
In my opinion, an entrepreneur is someone who creates a company from a simple idea and, while knowing that there are risks in doing so, they do it anyway because they believe in themselves. In his lifetime, Stan has shown that you can achieve things and do the things you want in life, while being successful and happy and proving people wrong along the way.
I believe that Stan Lee is therefore a superhero in his own right because of the things he has achieved in his life, and because of how his creations have been such a positive influence in my life, and in the lives of my friends and family.