This week on Classics Corner, instead of focusing on a classic movie, we will focus on Stan Lee. As many (or most) of you know, Stan Lee is responsible for many of our classic comic book heroes that are in movies today. If you look closely, Stan Lee himself is in many of these films as well. Stan Lee will be at the Fandom Fest this July 26-28th in Louisville, KY. Before we get started, I think we need a musical interlude by the Ramones!
In 1939 Mr. Lee started as an assistant at Timely Comics with pulp magazine and comic book publisher Martin Goodman. Timely would eventually become Marvel Comics which would eventually be bought by Disney. Stanley Lieber (his birth name) made his comic book debut as a text filler in “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge.” In that issue he used “Stan Lee” as a pseudonym. In August of 1941, Mr. Lee co-created his first superhero the Destroyer in Mystic Comics No. 6. He entered the Army in 1942 and created manuals, training films, slogans and cartoons. He returned to comics in 1945.
In the late 1950s, Stan Lee broke away from the perfect lives of many superheroes and gave them flaws and made them more human. This meant superheroes would get sad, mad, fight with each other, etc… This was evident in the first superhero group Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ever created. The Fantastic Four, which included Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and The Thing, had different personalities. Mr. Fantastic was the father figure and kind of boring and The Human Torch is the typical rebellious teen. Lee and Kirby went on to create many titles including Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and the X-Men. I was recently watching the DVD where Kevin Smith interviews Stan Lee and Mr. Lee discussed naming the X-Men. He originally wanted to name them “The Mutants” but Mr. Goodman said that people wouldn’t know what mutants were so they ended up naming them the X-Men. (Kevin Smith will also be at Fandom Fest this year with Jason Mewes!)
The X-Men shared this same humanity that was changed earlier. For example, there is always conflict with Cyclops and Wolverine over Jean Grey. The X-Men movies by Brian Singer did really well. These characters continue to be popular in culture which is obvious when there is new Wolverine film which will be released on July 26th, 2013. Here is the trailer:
As hinted by our musical interlude, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Marvel’s most successful character, Spider-Man. Spider-Man was different, he wasn’t like Thor or even Ironman. He was just a regular teenager that was kind of nerdy and had problems. Peter Parker accidentally got his powers from a spider. He had issues that readers could relate to as well. Now let’s see some incarnations of Spider-Man!
Here is the first episode of the series from 1967!
Ok, here’s one from my childhood. Who remembers The Electric Company show? Well in this episode we see Spider-Man meets The Spoiler! Notice the disco theme song! This is a lot funnier than I remember.
Here’s a more recent Spider-Man.
Next we have the Sam Raimi version.
Now The Amazing Spider-Man:
Here are a few minutes of the Kevin Smith interview with Stan Lee: