The pop culture world was dealt a huge blow today with the news that Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95. Lee is widely celebrated as one of the primary architects of the Marvel Universe. He co-created many of the company’s most famous heroes and villains and managed to become the public face of Marvel for decades. But ultimately, Lee’s true legacy at Marvel Comics isn’t any one character or franchise, but the deep inspiration he provided for generations of creators that followed.
Lee’s resume includes a laundry list of iconic superhero characters – Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and on and on. That said, Lee isn’t singlehandedly responsible for creating any of the characters he’s so closely associated with. Spider-Man was a joint creation with Steve Ditko. Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men were all developed alongside Jack Kirby. But that’s the beauty of comics – it’s generally a collaborative medium. If you didn’t have Kirby’s boundless imagination and superhuman work ethic paired with Lee’s sense of humor, grandiose storytelling style and marketing skills, none of these characters would be what they are today. It’s safe to say many of them might never have left the drawing board in the first place.
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