We have been reflecting on the work of Stan Lee (1922 – 2018) and his amazing contributions to comic books and in turn cinema, television and pop culture. His work spans a great range of media and his cameos are famous; Lee has had an impact on our entertainment culture unlike any other.
The development of graphic novels into feature films has dramatically increased in popularity in recent years. Whilst superheroes have always piqued the interest of the general population, the addition of our favorite heroes (and villains) to the big screen has increased due to the upgrade in the technical abilities of the film industry. Now they’re not just movies, but cinematic experiences and no one does it quite like Marvel.
Lee began in the business in 1939 and created or co-created characters such as Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Mighty Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and Ant-Man, among countless others.
While we could go on forever about the contributions he’s made, let’s take a look at four of Lee’s creations who have had notable transitions from comic book characters to on-screen heroes…
Spider-Man first appeared in Marvel comics in the early 60’s and is the alias of Peter Parker – an orphan raised by his aunt and uncle and dealing with the struggles of adolescence. This character came about from the increase in demand from teenage readers and the desire for a character they could relate to. Spider-Man quickly gained popularity and has appeared in multiple live-action films, animated series, print media, console games, cross-over events and nestled his way permanently into popular culture.
2017 Spider-Man: Homecoming
2019 Spider-Man: Far From Home
Black Panther’s real name is T’Challa, king and protector of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Appearing in the early 60’s Black Panther is the first superhero of African descent in American mainstream comics.
Having appeared in several Marvel films the character was finally given it’s time to shine in the 2018 film of the same name where he was played by Chadwick Boseman. This film received rave reviews with praise for the cast and many saying that it’s a Marvel film like no other, that elevates superhero cinema to new levels. Due to this popularity there is a sequel currently in development.
Ant-Man was one of the first superheroes to emerge from the creations of Marvel and is a persona that has been taken up by several characters within the universe. Originally the scientist Hank Pym took up the identity after inventing a substance that can change size, but after he abandoned the persona it was taken up by Scott Lang.
The 2015 film Ant-Man embraces these multiple Ant-Men, with Paul Rudd starring as Scott Lang and Michael Douglas appearing as his mentor Hank Pym. However despite this, the film received mixed reviews with many commenting on the fact that it’s a little less grand than it’s predecessors in the Marvel universe. The 2018 sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp has revived the series somewhat, as people praise this lighter side of Marvel that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The Avengers is a difficult group to pin down, and not just because it’s made up of some of the toughest superheroes out there. It’s a changing and evolving group of Marvel characters who fight “the foes no single superhero can withstand”. Originally consisting of Ant-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and The Wasp, the group had already changed within the first few comic series to include Captain America. In 2012 Joss Whedon directed The Avengers and set numerous box office records. Following the success of this first film we were then given Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, and an untitled sequel to come in 2019.
Along with various animated series and films The Avengers is without a doubt one of the more popular adaptations to come from the Marvel universe, and it’s not hard to tell why. Famous for their cross-overs, Marvel knows that bringing together everyone’s favourite characters in the one place never fails to please the crowd.
There is no doubt that Stan Lee and the whole Marvel crew have provided us with more content than we have time to consume. There’s no shortage of stories, characters and worlds to bring to life – whether in print or on the big screen. Thank you for your ideas and your hard work – Your creations will live on and continue to provide that important service of entertainment.