Creator / Stan Lee

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"With great power there must also come ... great responsibility!"
Stan Lee, Amazing Fantasy #15, Aug. 1962

Face front, true believers!

Stan "The Man" Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922) is a Comic Book creator, writer, editor, "Chairman Emeritus" of Marvel Comics and creator or co-creator of just about every significant Marvel character who doesn't carry a shield, wear a skull on his chest, or have metal bones. How much credit he deserves for creating them — as opposed to his artist/co-writer collaborators, especially Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko — is a matter of debate.

To say he's still active today, both in comics and other media, is a mammoth understatement. Among his recent projects, he hosted the Reality Show Who Wants to Be a Superhero? and the documentary series Stan Lee's Superhumans, and has a cameo in almost every Marvel movie adaptation. He has also gotten into the anime and manga business, and is now working on two series, Karakuridouji Ultimo with Shaman King creator, Hiroyuki Takei, and Heroman with Studio BONES. He also worked on The Governator with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You might not be entirely aware of it, but he has had a YouTube Channel for quite some time now, and frankly you have no excuse to not check it out.

For an examination of his writing methods, see SoYouWantTo.Be The Next Stan Lee.

EXCELSIOR!!

Notable Comic Book characters co-created by Stan Lee:

Notable Comic Book characters created by others but extensively written Stan Lee:

  • My Friend Irma (created for radio by Cy Howard and Marie Wilson; Lee wrote the comic book adaptation.)

Notable shows co-created by Stan Lee:

Notable anime/manga co-created by Stan Lee:

Tropes associated with Stan Lee:

  • Adam Westing: Done hilariously in The Simpsons season 13 episode "I Am Furious (Yellow)", where he plays a somewhat crazy version of himself. He won't leave Comic Book Guy's shop, breaks a toy Batmobile in an attempt to fit The Thing inside it, and even believes that he can turn into The Incredible Hulk.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Smilin' Stan adores alliterations. Which inevitably leads to...
  • Alliterative Name: Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, Matt Murdock... the list goes on. Justified, in that Stan was working on more than a dozen comics at any given time when he created those names, and the alliteration served as a mnemonic. Sometimes it didn't work, which is why the Hulk's full name is "Robert Bruce Banner" (one issue called him "Bob Banner" over and over), and why an early issue of Amazing Spider-Man listed Peter Parker as "Peter Palmer". This was parodied in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
    • He even had this in real life with his brother Larry Lieber. He also ended up giving his co-workers alliterative nicknames — in addition to his own "Smilin' Stan," there was "Jazzin' Johnny Romita," "Adorable Artie Simek," and others.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Better known for what he doesn't like in comic books — mainly excessive violence and teen sidekicks. This is partly because Lee initially planned to be a novelist and more or less did see comics as kids' stuff and not interesting. He only came around to it when Archie Goodman made him editor and commissioned a new kind of super-team to counter the appeal of DC, leading to Fantastic Four, which allowed him and Jack Kirby and later Steve Ditko to position themselves against the establishment of the time.
    • He has said that comics (such as the DC Comics) using fictitious cities for their stories (i.e. Gotham or Metropolis), is a pet peeve of his. He always wonders what's so wrong with using a real city.
  • Author Avatar:
    • In Karakuridouji Ultimo, the Big Bad looks exactly like him. Even the American Shonen Jump lampshades this.
    • In Heroman, Stan appears as a patron in the restaurant Joey works at who's always drinking coffee.
    • He claimed to have originally created J. Jonah Jameson so there would be a character he could play in an adaptation, which ended up never happening despite the numerous adaptations featuring him (and hey, J.K. Simmons played such a good JJJ).
  • Big Applesauce: He's a native, and it definitely shows. ("Excelsior!" is also the New York State motto.)
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": When asked if Steve Ditko is the real creator of Spider-Man, Stan always responds in the affirmative, but never leaves out the phrase "in my opinion", which makes it sound like the real answer is no.
  • The Cameo:
    • He appears in Guardians of the Galaxy as a Xandarian ladies' man. Not a Creator Cameo in this case, as he was not one of the creators of that comic. Though he did create Groot.
    • He also bizarrely shows up in The Princess Diaries 2, years before Disney bought Marvel. He also shows up in a few scenes of the action comedy The Ambulance, in which the main character is an artist for Marvel. It's more than just a cameo, like he usually does. Like the Princess Diaries example above, this example is also somewhat bizarre, as The Ambulance is an original story, and not an adaptation of a Marvel franchise.
  • The Casanova: His Marvel Cinematic Universe persona seems to be one of these: In his Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. appearance, he has two very lovely ladies with him when he stops to give Coulson crap for being a bad father (It's part of Coulson's cover), in Iron Man he's again got two ladies and is mistaken by Stark for Hugh Hefner, and he's seen hitting on a Xandarian in Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Excelsior!"
    • "Face front, true believers!"
    • "'Nuff said!"
  • City of Weirdos/Some Nutty Publicity Stunt: Stan uses these a lot. If something weird is going on in midtown Manhattan, count on seeing a jaded New Yorker who's certain that it's someone filming a movie or "Some Nutty Publicity Stunt."
  • Comes Great Responsibility: The Trope Namer.
  • Comic-Book Time: Lee was in charge when Marvel first began to abandon its real-time storytelling in favor of "Marvel time" in 1968. The statement that comics do not represent change, but "the illusion of change" is usually attributed to either him or Marv Wolfman.
  • Cool Old Guy: So much so that he is the page's image.
  • Cool Shades: One really can't imagine Stan the man without his dark specs.
  • Creator Cameo: Enough to have his own page.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Like you wouldn't believe. As shown here and here. The videos are debates for DC's Injustice: Gods Among Us. Let's just say that we now know where Spider-Man got it from.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Often portrays himself this way for humor, such as in his "Stan's Rants" series.
  • Happily Married: To his wife Joan, almost to the point of Single-Target Sexuality.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: He actually caused this for another with an anti-drug comic (commissioned by the US Government) that The Comics Code Authority refused to approve because they did not permit any portrayal of drugs, whether positive or negative. He ran it anyway. The CCA looked like fools, and very quickly rewrote the Code to allow negative or cautionary portrayals of drug use (among other things), but it was too late; people had already realised how restrictive and unnecessary the code really was. Partly thanks to this, the influence of the Code itself began to wane, and eventually Marvel — among other companies - abandoned it altogether.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: "Stan Lee Presents" appeared on all Marvel issue titles for decades (because he was Marvel's publisher at that time, though not a writer except for the occasional special project).
  • Jerkass: Stan often portrays himself as a bit of a Jerkass in comics where "Stan Lee" is a character. Stan has also said (presumably at least somewhat in jest) that he based legendary jerkass J. Jonah Jameson on himself, or at least the way he thought comics readers imagined him. He was also kind of crusty when he appeared on The Big Bang Theory (then again, Sheldon did show up at his house and promptly went inside of it without his permission).
    • Taken to its logical conclusion where he's the Big Bad of Ultimo. And then there's his role as "principal Stanley" in Mini Marvels, where once Spidey starts angsting — justifiably — about his status as a Butt Monkey, causes Stan to look awkward once he mentions "who decided this to happen to me?".
    • Ascends in X-Play, where "Roger the Stan Lee Experience" recounts tales of doing Jack Kirby's wife and stealing credit for Kirby's success. Also happens in his guest spot on Chuck - where it's implied that his whole career has been some sort of CIA operation.
    • Likewise his cameos on Robot Chicken. Let's not forget, that as nice as Stan Lee is, the characters he helped to create and wrote for had very, very, very bad things happen to them.
    • He claimed to have based Jameson off how he thought his employees would see him. Now of course as per the Marvel Method the visual design and look of Jameson and his role on the plot was made by Steve Ditko (while Stan Lee wrote the dialogues, based on Ditko's notes and directions) and Ditko might have based Jameson on Ellsworth Toohey as a strawman demagogic journalist defaming real heroes (like Spider Man), which is not really Lee's hat at all. Incidentally, Jack Kirby when he went to DC modelled the character Funky Flashman in the New Gods on Lee.
  • Kid Sidekick: He doesn't like the trope and has likened it to endangerment of minors — hence the death of Bucky Barnes. He totally subverts this trope later on with Johnny Storm being a team member rather than just a sidekick. And, ultimately, Spider-Man being the first lone teen super hero of his kind. He also admits how hypocritical this is.
    • Considering this, though, one wonders how he allowed Rick Jones to be this to the Avengers in the early stories.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The foundation of several of his superheroes' origins.
  • Large Ham: His public persona.
  • Man Child: One of his appearances on Robot Chicken portrayed him as this. With him providing the voice, no less.
  • Narrator: Given half a chance.
  • The Nicknamer: Responsible for nicknaming the majority of the Marvel Bullpen and characters. And of course, for the readers and all the fans, Marvelites.
  • Purple Prose: A peerlessly pounding pantheon of pulse-poundingly purple prose! Nobody does it better, true believers!
  • Running Gag: Whenever he writes a letter to the letters page of a Marvel Comic, the traditional reply by the editor is always, "Stan who??"
  • Self-Deprecation: Many times. See Jerkass above. He also appeared in an episode of The Simpsons, where he acts like a Cloud Cuckoolander:
    Bart: Stan Lee came back?
    Comic Book Guy: Stan Lee never left. I am starting to suspect his mind is no longer in mint condition.
    • Then...
      Stan: (After seeing Homer go on a minor rampage where he coincidentally got green paint all over him) He's not the Incredible Hulk! I'M the Incredible Hulk! (Yells and tries to Hulk Out) C'mon change dammit! Grrr, I did it once before!
      Comic Book Guy: Oh, please; you couldn't turn into Bill Bixby...
      Stan: (Yells and tries to Hulk Out again)
      Comic Book Guy: You almost had it that time.
  • Take That!: In his Just Imagine series, he makes Robin a bad guy. Knowing how he hates sidekicks, doing that to the character that popularized comic book sidekicks would seem more like this than just trying to make him a complex character.
    • In his recent colab with How It Should Have Ended, he gave his views on how certain films should've ended. He then shows three more, each showing him interrupt George Lucas while he's writing each of the Star Wars prequels, then tossing the script of each into the fireplace.
    • He's also usually on the receiving end of this whenever it comes to who "created" the main Marvel characters. Perhaps Jim Henson (via Epic Rap Battles of History) put it best:
      Henson: Let me mention I'm impressed by all the vision that it took for you to sign your name on all of Jack Kirby's comic books!
  • Villain Decay: While his heroes and writing style are still iconic today, his storytelling style is also somewhat infamous for really introducing a lot of this to Marvel villains — he'd have them say things like "This time my brilliant plan will destroy those meddling heroes!!!" without any sense of irony, even after the villain listed all the times they'd already gotten stomped. In the early 1960's, it still kind of worked; by 1969 or so, not so much. Much of his own later work — not to mention a great deal of comicry, that followed in his footsteps — had to spend time fighting the villainous cliches, he himself constructed.

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