By Jennifer Earl
Published November 12, 2018
In some comic book lovers' eyes, Stan Lee was their very own superhero. The Marvel Comics co-creator gave the world some of its most iconic superheroes, including the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk — just to name a few.
Lee, who reportedly died Monday at the age of 95, launched his comic book career at Timely Comics as a teenager in 1939, Marvel notes on its website. Right away, Lee got to work providing "filler text" for "Captain America," written by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. It was at Timely Comics, which later turned into the famous Marvel Comics, his career in comics truly began.
“I think when it comes down to it, it’s the relatable nature of all of the heroes that makes them resonate [with people],” Lee told Variety in July 2017.
Despite his age, Lee said at the time that he had no plans to stop his creative juices from flowing.
“I love what I do,” he said. “If I had to do anything else, I’d be miserable. If I weren’t coming into the office and working with the people here, I would be sitting at home, watching television.”
"Stan Lee's name and co-creations have appeared in over 2 billion comicbooks and in countless languages across his almost eight decades in the business," Lee revealed on National Comic Book Day in September. "That's gotta be a world record of something, right?"
Here's a look back at some of Lee's legendary contributions to the comic book world, including Spider-Man, the Hulk and X-Men, which went on to become stars of blockbuster films.
The first issue of "The Fantastic Four," was released in 1960. The characters, plot and text were created by Lee and illustrations were done by famed Marvel artist Jack Kirby.
In the original comic, the Fantastic Four became powerful after becoming exposed to cosmic rays in outer space, per the New York Post.
"Rejecting the notion that super heroics were juvenile, Lee redefined comics by founding a team that struggled with recognizable issues. In their first year, the FF dealt with the Cold War and bankruptcy!" Marvel said.
"The characters would be the kind of characters I could personally relate to; they'd be flesh and blood, they'd have their faults and foibles, they'd be fallible and feisty and — most important of all — inside their colorful, costumed booties they'd still have feet of clay," Lee explained in the "Origins of Marvel Comics."
"Tortured Bruce Banner would resonate deeply with readers, particularly adults. Lee and Kirby present another Silver Age wonder – the irradiated monster Hulk," Marvel describes on its website, noting the Hulk was released in 1962.
CBS turned the Hulk into a successful TV series, with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno portraying the doomed scientist from 1978-82. The superhero was also turned into a film and released in 2008, making $55.4 million its opening weekend.
Lee also gave the world Peter Parker — your neighborhood hero — in 1962.
"Lee’s inspiration for Spider-Man came of his desire to depict an adolescent hero who wasn’t relegated to sidekick," Marvel says. "Finding spiders ‘spooky’, Stan and artist Steve Ditko created Marvel’s most globally recognized hero."
A Spider-Man TV series ran briefly in 1978. The character was also featured in an animated TV series. The "Spider-Man" film took in more than $400 million when it was released in 2002.
What started out as "The Mutants" turned into the popular "X-Men," a teen dream team. Lee, along with Kirby, developed the new group of heroes with "inborn powers" in 1963.
The first big-budget movie based on Lee's characters, "X-Men," was a smash in 2000, earning more than $130 million at North American theaters.
Lee also published several books, including "The Superhero Women" in 1977 and "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" the following year, when he was named publisher of the year by the Periodical and Book Association of America.
Recent projects he helped make possible range from the films "Avengers: Infinity War," ''Black Panther" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" to such TV series as "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" and "Daredevil."
Lee had cameos in at least 56 Marvel-related projects. His first cameo came in 1989 when he pretended to be a concerned jury member in the TV film "The Trial of the Incredible Hulk," Insider reports. From playing a surprised bystander in "Spider-Man" to putting on a badge as a security guard in the "Hulk," Lee's thick grey mustache and slciked back hair always stood out to comic book enthusiasts.
He's also been featured in Marvel TV shows and as an animated character in video games.