Name at birth: Stanley Martin LieberThe man behind the "Marvel Universe," Stan Lee is revered by comic book fans for creating Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and other fresh comic superheroes of the 1960s. Stan Lee became editor of Marvel Comics (then called Timely Comics) shortly after his service in the U.S. Army during World War II. The company was at that time overshadowed by rival D.C. Comics (home to Superman), but in the 1960s Lee made Marvel into a comics powerhouse by introducing conflicted, wisecracking superheroes who were decidedly different from Superman's prim persona. Marvel Comics is often credited with revitalizing the superhero genre in general; the label's many creations before and during Lee's tenure included the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Captain America, and the melancholy Silver Surfer. Spider-Man, perhaps the most enduring of all Marvel characters, was created by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko in 1962. In later years Marvel Comics became Marvel Entertainment Group and Lee expanded into movies, TV and the Internet with mixed success and some financial troubles. His Stan Lee Media was a prominent dot-com flop. However, in the 21st Century, superhero movies came back into vogue and Marvel comics characters were the basis of a long string of lucrative blockbusters -- so many that the series and settings became known as the "Marvel Cinematic Universe." Among the many feature films based on Marvel characters are Spider-Man (2002, with Tobey Maguire, followed by two sequels, then by other Spider-Man films); The X-Men (2000, followed by many sequels); 2003's The Hulk (directed by Ang Lee, no relation to Stan); Thor (2011, starring Chris Hemsworth); Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Dr. Strange (2016, with Benedict Cumberbatch); and Black Panther (2018, starring Chadwick Boseman).
Artist Jack Kirby collaborated on many of Stan Lee’s signature creations… Marvel’s character The Silver Surfer is a favorite of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, who wrote a famous bit of dialogue about the Surfer for the 1995 film Crimson Tide.
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