HOLLYWOOD—Stan Lee, legendary Marvel Comics co-creator, comic-book writer, and publisher, left imprints of his hands and feet in the cement of the TCL Chinese Theatre’s forecourt in Hollywood on Tuesday, July 18, following the tradition of hundreds of actors, directors, and producers before him.
Marvel Cinematic Universe president and producer Kevin Feige, “Guardians of the Galaxy” writer James Gunn, and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” actor Clark Gregg were among those present at the ceremony. Onlookers cheered as filmmaker and comedian Kevin Smith, comic-book artist Todd McFarlane, and “Black Panther” actor Chadwick Boseman praised Lee.
“If I’d have known I was so good I would have asked for a raise,” Lee said. He joked that he is apparently “far too good to be wasting time with ordinary people.”
“But I seem to be spending my life with ordinary people who are the best people in the world,” he said. “I’ve been the luckiest man in the world because I’ve had friends. And to have the right friends is everything. People you can depend on. People who tell you the truth if you ask for something. I’ve been lucky in that area.”
“I’ve been lucky to have a wonderful wife,” Lee added, paying emotional tribute to his wife, Joan, who died on July 6. The couple would have celebrated their 70th anniversary in December.
The ceremony was held days after Lee, who created or co-created 90 percent of Marvel Comics’ characters, was honored as a Disney Legend on Friday, July 14, at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, his first public appearance following Joan’s death. The award, considered Disney’s highest honor, was presented to 11 individuals who made significant contributions to the company’s legacy, including the late actress Carrie Fisher, actor Mark Hamill, and actress Whoopi Goldberg. Lee’s longtime collaborator, the late Jack Kirby, was also inducted as a Disney Legend. During his speech, Lee recalled how he was inspired by Walt Disney in his childhood.
Born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28, 1922, Lee began working as an assistant at the age of 17 at a division of publisher Martin Goodman’s company, Timely Comics, which later became Marvel Comics. He made his writing debut with a text filler for Captain America No. 3 in 1941 under the pseudonym Stan Lee, which eventually became his legal name. He went on to co-create characters such as the Destroyer, Jack Frost, and Father Time. In 1942, he was promoted to editor for the comic book division.
In the late 1950s, when Lee was on the verge of changing careers, Goodman asked him to create a new superhero team. He gave his superheroes realistic flaws and complex natures, in contrast with the perfect archetypes that were previously written. In 1961, he and Captain America co-creator Jack Kirby created the Fantastic Four, which became immensely popular and led to the birth of the shared Marvel Universe. He went on to co-create characters such as the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, and the X-men.
Lee took on the role of publisher of Marvel Comics in 1972 and became the public face of the company in the years following. His work helped Marvel grow from a division of a company into a large multimedia corporation. In 2009, the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment and its associated characters and properties for $4 billion.
In 1994, Lee was inducted into the Comic Industry’s Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame. In 2008, he received a National Medal of Arts. He is known to have regular cameo appearances in Marvel films and television projects. Since 1990, he has been credited as an executive producer on most Marvel projects.