Stan Lee has died at 95. The legendary comic book writer, editor, and publisher, responsible for growing Marvel Comics into the media behemoth it is today, passed away early Monday morning in Los Angeles at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, after an ambulance was reportedly called to his home in the Hollywood Hills neighbourhood. His daughter, J.C. Lee, has confirmed the death of her father.
Lee is best known for co-creating dozens of superheroes during his time at Marvel Comics, including the likes of Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, Daredevil, Thor, Black Panther, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye among others. Fantastic Four was his first big creation in the early 1960s, with frequent collaborator Jack Kirby, which came on the back of Lee almost quitting the field.
While Marvel's rival DC Comics had already found success in the late 1950s with the Justice League of America, Lee infused humanity into his characters unlike the DC ones who had it all figured out, and in turn provided them with varying personalities of their own. The Marvel superheroes not only had to save the day from evil but also dealt with everyday problems such as high school, dating, and family.
Lee stopped writing comics and became the publisher of Marvel Comics in the early 1970s, before moving from New York to California in the 1980s to develop Marvel properties for film and TV. And that's where he remained heavily involved in for the rest of his life, working as an executive producer while returning to comic book writing from time to time.
His roster of superpowered characters gained worldwide prominence and fame after Disney bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009 and launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with many of the films routinely featuring in the highest-grossing lists of each year. Lee became well-known for making cameos in most of them, with comic book fans eagerly waiting to spot him in each new instalment.
Lee had already filmed his cameo for the as-yet untitled Avengers 4, the sequel to Infinity War, according to an interview of co-director Joe Russo from April. Lee was also known for his trademark motto, “Excelsior!”, which was posted to his official Twitter page Monday and mentioned in several tributes.
“Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created,” Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement on Monday. “A superhero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain and to connect. The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart.”
“No one has had more of an impact on my career and everything we do at Marvel Studios than Stan Lee,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said. “Stan leaves an extraordinary legacy that will outlive us all. Our thoughts are with his daughter, his family and the millions of fans who have been forever touched by Stan's genius, charisma and heart.”
“He felt an obligation to his fans to keep creating,” J.C. Lee told Reuters in a statement. "He loved his life and he loved what he did for a living. His family loved him and his fans loved him. He was irreplaceable.”
“There will never be another Stan Lee,” Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, tweeted. “For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy. He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives.”
“[Rest in peace] my friend,” Thor actor Chris Hemsworth wrote on Instagram, with an image of Lee in a Thor helmet. “Thank you for the incredible adventures your stories took all of us on. My love and support goes out to all your friends and family.”
Sharing a picture of him with Lee, Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. said on Instagram: “I owe it all to you. Rest in peace Stan.”
“Stan Lee‘s imagination has held generations in its thrall,” Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Doctor Strange, said in a statement. “He was a kind, generous and funny man and it was an honour to meet him. My love and thoughts to his family.”
“We've lost a creative genius,” Hugh Jackman, who played Wolverine, tweeted. “Stan Lee was a pioneering force in the superhero universe. I'm proud to have been a small part of his legacy and …. to have helped bring one of his characters to life.”
“Thanks for everything Stan Lee! What a life, so well lived,” Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt said on Twitter. “I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have gotten to meet you and to have played in the world you created.”
“How many millions of us are indebted to this guy, none more so than me,” Tom Holland, the newest Spider-Man, wrote on Instagram. “The father of Marvel has made so many people so incredibly happy. What a life and what a thing to have achieved. Rest in peace Stan.”
“Stan Lee and Dr. Seuss and Ray Bradbury. That's where it begins and ends with me,” Thanos actor Josh Brolin wrote on Instagram. “To those of us who have been so deeply affected by the humanity of his imagination, the understanding of reaching beyond our potential and the necessity of tapping into our immeasurable imaginations, we thank you and are forever indebted. Rest In Peace Dear Stan. You made our time here a better one.”
“What a man. What a life,” Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson tweeted. “When I first broke into Hollywood, he welcomed me with open arms and some very sage advice I'll forever take to heart. A true icon who impacted generations around the world. Rest in love, my friend.”
“His contribution to pop culture was revolutionary & cannot be overstated,” Mark Hamill tweeted. “He was everything you hoped he would be & MORE. I loved this man & will never stop missing him. They say you should never meet a childhood idol. They are wrong.”