An emotional Stan Lee accepts the Disney Legends Award, following reels of his and Jack Kirby's careers. pic.twitter.com/4rNmYZMb1x— Comicbook.com (@ComicBook) July 14, 2017
Lee, who looked up to Walt Disney as a kid, accepted his Disney Legends award at D23. Lee got emotional delivering his acceptance speech, first noting how “well-deserved” the event’s Jack Kirby tribute video was and then telling a story of his youth.
“I’ll go back a few years to a teenage boy. Not even a teenager, a kid around eight or ten who loved to read everything he could get his hands on,” Lee began. “In those days he read The Hardy Boys, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, little books he could buy inexpensively.
“One day in a bookstore, he saw a book that was an expensive book. It was what they would have called a ‘coffee table book’ to him. It was called The Art of Walt Disney. I was that boy and I couldn’t afford the book and it drove me crazy. I wanted that book so badly.
"I saved my pennies and after a few months, I bought The Art of Walt Disney. I loved that book so. I loved Walt Disney so. To me, he was more than a man. He was an inspiration. He was something to reach for, to be like him, and to think that today, I’m standing in the house that Disney built and we’ve paid tribute to Jack and now we’re talking about all the things of Disney’s it so thrilling I can’t tell."
Lee thanked Bob Iger and everyone in attendance and then spoke his signature sign off.
“And of course I can’t leave without saying ‘excelsior!’”
Stan Lee began working for the company that would become Marvel Comics, then called Timely Comics, in 1939. Lee made his debut as a writer with a prose Captain America story in 1941 and was promoted to editor at the age of 18 in 1942. In 1961, Stan Lee teamed up with Captain America co-creator Jack Kirby and created the Fantastic Four. This was the birth of the Marvel Universe and it changed comics forever. Stan went on to co-created several more of Marvel’s most iconic character with Kirby and some of Marvel’s other legendary artists such as Steve Ditko. These included Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, the X-Men, Daredevil, and Falcon. Lee became Marvel’s editorial director and publisher in 1972 and later was named chairman emeritus.
In 2009, Disney paid $4 billion to purchase Marvel Comics, making Lee’s creations and all of the Marvel Comics characters that followed part of the Walt Disney family.