Creator / Stan Lee
"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 (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.


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.
    • 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 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).
  • Badass Moustache
  • 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 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: Stan has always enjoyed this trope, both in the comics themselves and elsewhere. It's been joked that he has the superpower to appear in any media, so observe:
    • He even cameos in anime that somewhat involved him, too.
    • In Ultimo he's actually the Big Bad!
    • He appeared as a bus driver in Heroes.
    • He's appeared in a number of Marvel Comics as himself:
      • Most famously, Stan showed up at the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm with Jack Kirby — only to be denied entry!
      • Stan showed up (with artist Stan Goldberg) in one Millie the Model story, as the creators of a comic book starring Millie.
      • In 1997, almost every Marvel Comics series had a special issue as part of a campaign called Marvel Flashbacks. Stan appeared in each story as the Narrator.
      • A series of 2006 one-shots called Stan Lee Meets (e.g. Stan Lee Meets the Thing, Stan Lee Meets Doctor Doom, etc.) was built around this trope.
      • Shows in Vol 1 on Marvel Mangaverse along with fellow creator Jack Kirby as one of Captain Marvel's neighbors.
    • He has contractually-obliged cameos in almost every movie based on one of his works, and usually appears in Marvel movies he isn't contractually obliged to get cameos in. As for his cameos:
      • His first cameo came in "Trial of The Incredible Hulk", the second of three reunion movies based on the series (The first being a Backdoor Pilot for The Mighty Thor, this one for Daredevil). Stan plays a Jury foreman in a nightmare David Banner has that causes him to Hulk out.
      • Spider-Man Trilogy: In 1, a heroic bystander who saves a kid from falling debris. In 2, another bystander. In 3, a bystander who poetically muses about Spider-Man to Peter in the beginning.
      • Hulk: A security guard getting into an elevator with Lou Ferrigno.
      • The Incredible Hulk: The civilian who is poisoned by Bruce Banner's irradiated blood in the beginning. Considering how his The Simpsons persona is a Cloud Cuckoolander who thinks he can actually turn into Hulk like described below, it's amusing to think him actually doing so in the movie as well.
      • Daredevil: A man reading a newspaper who almost walks out into traffic only to be stopped by the blind kid Matt Murdock.
      • Fantastic Four (2005): Willie Lumpkin, the Baxter Building's mailman. This marks the only time he's actually played one of his own characters. In Rise of the Silver Surfer he plays himself trying to get into the wedding, a Call Back to the same thing in the actual comics.
      • Averted in Fantastic Four (2015), where he makes no appearance, and has joked this was the reason it was a Box Office Bomb.
      • Iron Man: He plays a person who was mistaken for Hugh Hefner by Tony. In Iron Man 2 he is mistaken for Larry King. Whether he is actually supposed to be these people is unknown. And in Iron Man 3 he appears in a blink and you'll miss it moment as the judge for the Beauty Contest on one of the screens in the news van that Tony temporarily hijacks.
      • Thor: He plays a New Mexico local with a truck trying to pull Mjölnir from its spot. Credited as Stan the Man.
      • Captain America: The First Avenger: He plays an Army general in a crowd who loses the opportunity to see Rogers because he left on another mission, but mistakes the messenger for Capt. "I thought he'd be taller." This is a semi-exception as, while Lee didn't create the character, he did serve as Timely Comics' editor during the Golden Age, not to mention introducing Cap to the Silver Age and creating Cap's trademark move of throwing his shield. He appears again in The Winter Soldier, this time as a Smithsonian guard who fears that he's going to be fired (we don't know if he ended up being fired or not) upon discovering that Cap stole his outfit back.
      • X-Men Film Series: In the first film, he's a random beachgoer who watches Senator Kelly emerging from the ocean. In X-Men: The Last Stand, he appears in the prologue as a neighbor of a young Jean Grey watering his lawn (a scene in which fellow X-Men writer Chris Claremont also cameos). As an aside, he couldn't make a cameo in The Wolverine because of the movie's overseas filming in Australia and Japan, and deliberately sacrificed a cameo in X-Men: Days of Future Past (filmed in Montreal, Canada) so that he could attend the Fan Expo 2013 in Toronto, Canada. For X-Men: Apocalypse, he and his wife are one of the many shots of frightened citizens watching the nuclear missiles launch into space.
      • The Avengers: Near the end of the film, Stan shows up as a man playing chess in the park, who is interviewed by a news crew regarding the events of the movie's finale. His character believes it all to be a hoax. He also pops up in one of the deleted scenes as a guy at a cafe who alerts Cap to the waitress's interest.
      • The Amazing Spider-Man: During Spidey and the Lizard's fight, he plays an oblivious librarian who listens to classical music with noise-cancellation headphones while the fight goes on behind him. He reprises the cameo in How It Should Have Ended's episode on the movie where he blames the Avengers for the mess and warns them he's got his eyes on them.
      • Thor: The Dark World: As a patient at a mental institute with Dr. Erik Selvig. Credited as himself.
      • The Amazing Spider-Man 2: One of the audience members of Peter's high school graduation. He spots Peter coming in while wearing his Spider-Man mask and exclaims "He knows that guy!" (He also appears in an ad for the U.S. Mail as a projectionist for ASM2's premiere, who is saved when Spidey helps deliver the film cannister.).
      • Guardians of the Galaxy: He pops up as a Xandarian flirting with a lady. Credited as the "Xandarian Lady's Man".
      • Big Hero 6: He appears in a post-credits sequence as Fred's long-lost father. As with Deadpool below, Lee had nothing to do with the original comics.
      • He will reprise this role in the upcoming Disney XD TV series.
      • Avengers: Age of Ultron: He is a WWII vet who attends the party at Avengers tower and gets stupor drunk after taking a sip of Thor's Asgardian mead.
      • Ant-Man: He's one of the friends who talked to one of the friends of one of Luis' friends about Scott and his fight with the Falcon.
      • Deadpool: He's the M.C. at a strip club. Notable for being a rare cameo in a Marvel film not based off a character Stan created, since he had nothing to do with Deadpool. His appearance in the movie is jokingly referred to as "A Gratuituous Cameo" in the opening credits.
      • Captain America: Civil War: He's a FedEx driver delivering a package to Tony Stark, mispronouncing his name as "Tony Stank."
      • Lee has also confirmed that he will have cameos in Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. They were all filmed at the same time, directed by James Gunn, due to his advanced age.
      • Doctor Strange: He's a passenger inside a bus that Strange smacks into. He's reading the book The Doors of Perception and laughing himself silly.
    • He appears as himself in the series finale of Spider-Man: The Animated Series when Madame Web brings together several Spider-Mans from alternate universes, one of whom is an actor who plays him in the real world. His wife Joan Lee voiced Madame Web, and the animated Stan asks, "Who is that exotic lady?" when he sees her. In turn, Madame Web tells Spider-Man that Stan is a special person.
    • He voices a dock worker who's also modeled after him in The Spectacular Spider-Man.
    • He plays Stan the Janitor in Ultimate Spider-Man
    • In Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, he voices a hallucination urging Peter to forsake Spider-Man.
    • Also showed up in Mallrats. One of the first few times he did a cameo in a movie that wasn't based on a Marvel property.
    • He appears in every Marvel-themed episode of Bad Days, and eventually starts making cameos in episodes focused on characters not created by Marvel.
    • A Robot Chicken sketch about a musical starring the Avengers has him play the piano, and also share a fact that adds a touch of irony to shipping Black Widow and Hawkeye.
    • Eureka episode Glimpse has a cameo for him, who provides a Shout-Out to The Hulk. He appears as Dr. Lee, specializing in the effects of gamma radiation, you can call him Generalissimo, and "Don't make me angry, you won't like me when I'm angry."
    • He was also in the Phineas and Ferb crossover special, Mission Marvel as a Hot Dog Vendor. Of course, the stand was labeled "Excelsior Hot Dogs".
    • He's the narrator for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
    • He appears in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode T.R.A.C.K.S. as a passenger on the train that the team is infiltrating.
    • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Several LEGO games have a mechanic where the player can rescue someone in peril as a level objective. In the Marvel game, that "someone" is always Stan. Perform all the rescues and he's unlocked as a playable character.
    • As a Disney movie based on a Marvel property, it'd make sense he'd appear even if he had nothing to do with the source material, in Big Hero 6. Fred's family portrait clearly uses his likeness for the father. The Stinger reveals he is an actual superhero, and he appears in a voiced Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
    • In Agent Carter he gets his shoes shined next to Howard Stark, and asks for the sports section of his newspaper.
    • Daredevil is particularly devious, with him appearing in a photograph in the background and out of focus in the Season 1 finale. The same picture also serves as his cameo for Jessica Jones. The motif continues inLuke Cage as he appears on a poster urging people to report crimes to the police.
    • In Super Power Beat Down, he is a man in an apartment who hears Spider-Man and Darth Maul fighting on the floor above his. He yells at the "neighbors" to keep it down.
    • In the first episode of Lucky Man he is seen as himself signing autographs in London's Forbidden Planet comic store.
  • 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.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Frequently gets this from partisans of co-creators like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko — though admittedly he's never been good at sharing credit (then again, neither were Kirby and Ditko).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Inverted — he caused this with an anti-drug comic (commissioned by the US Government) that The Comics Code Authority refused to approve due to arcane language that did not permit any portrayal of drugs, whether positive or negative. He ran it anyway, and the CCA ended up looking like idiots. The CCA very quickly rewrote the Code to allow negative or cautionary portrayals of drug use, inadvertently helping to usher in The Bronze Age of Comic Books. More than likely as a result, the influence of the Code itself began to wane in the following decades (eventually leading Marvel — among other companies — to abandon 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 based Jameson off how he thought his employees would see him, but while it's unknown if any of them did, there is one writer out there who has stated that the depiction is bang on and his treatment of other people in the medium (especially Steve Ditko) was appalling. Said writer is Alan Moore.
  • 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!
  • 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.
    • It should be noted, however, that 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.
  • 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.