Legendary writer, editor, and publisher Stan Lee – who created iconic characters like Spider-Man, the X-men, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, and countless others – died on Monday at the age of 95. The Marvel creator passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
He is survived by his daughter, J.C. Lee, and younger brother Larry Lieber. Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in 2017, and his other daughter, Jan, died in infancy.
Lee started in the comic business back in 1939, and he ended up turning his tiny venture, Marvel, into the number one publisher of comic books in the world. In 2001, he founded POW! Entertainment to develop film, TV, and video game properties, and since then Marvel characters have become the top-grossing superheroes of all time.
In 2009, The Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion, but like all other Marvel employees, Lee had no rights to the characters he created and did not receive royalties. However, Lee’s personal net worth is still estimated to be around $70 million.
“I used to think what I did was not very important,” he admitted in 2014. “People are building bridges and engaging in medical research, and here I was doing stories about fictional people who do extraordinary, crazy things and wear costumes. But I suppose I have come to realize that entertainment is not easily dismissed.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lee’s fame and influence as the Marvel figurehead remained considerable throughout his life, and his cameo appearances in the Marvel movies were always a treat for his millions of fans.
Various filmmakers have shown Lee doing things like avoiding falling concrete, watering his lawn, crashing a wedding, playing a security guard, delivering the mail, and serving on a jury. In the 1980s, Lee started showing up in different adaptations of characters that he helped bring to life. And over the years, a brief appearance by Lee was necessary for a Marvel movie to actually feel like a Marvel movie.
He even got so popular that he popped up in movies based on characters he had nothing to do with, like Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Lee made just shy of 50 cameo appearances over the years. Some fan favorites include 2003’s Hulk, where he showed up alongside Lou Ferrigno outside of Bruce Banner’s lab. In Captain America: Civil War, Lee was a FedEx delivery driver who was looking for “Tony Stank.” And, then there was Spider-Man 3, where Stan Lee told Peter Parker “I guess one person can make a difference. ‘Nuff said.”