Imagine a world without Stan Lee. For just a few seconds, try to envision the world that would’ve came to be if Stan Lee hadn’t been around to help create some of the world’s most recognizable heroes. Whether we like it or not, the legendary writer has done much to brand Marvel Comics as a bonafide pop culture juggernaut since Stan first joined the publisher (then called Timely Comics) at only 17-years-old. Now, at age 93, Stan has taken time to speak with The Hollywood Reporter to reminisce about his favorite heroes, his career, and even his biggest regrets.
“I always wrote for myself,” he began. “I figured I'm not that different from other people. If there's a story I like a lot, there's got to be others with similar tastes.” Surely, it was Stan’s interest in stories that prompted him to kick off his career. His first superhero story debuted in Captain America #3 - and by the mid-1960s - Stan was eager to explore a new style of storytelling. Alongside Jack Kirby, the duo penned The Fantastic Four and changed the comic game. In the following years, Marvel came into its own as Lee churned out character after character like Spider-Man, X-Men, Daredevil, Hulk, and many more.
All of Stan’s characters centered not only on their extraordinary gifts but their dysfunctional personal lives as well. The heroes were flawed, some more deeply than others, and all carried heavy regrets. Stan, it seems, can relate to those heroes when it comes to one specific professional lament.
“I was stupid in a business way. I should have been greedier,” Stan admitted, no doubt referencing Marvel’s many financial wobbles. Despite Marvel’s multi-billion dollar revenue, Stan has failed to cash in on much of the company’s wealth due to ownership conflicts and poorly timed trades. For instance, back in 1998, Stan sold off his movie points for an alleged $10 million. Should he have held onto those rights, who knows how much the writer would be worth now?
Yet, despite his financial regrets, Stan still looks back on his career proudly. Spanning over 8 decades, the writer considers himself to be a hero with the greatest of all superpowers: luck. He simply said, “For years, kids have been asking me what's the greatest superpower. I always say luck. If you're lucky, everything works. I've been lucky.”
Check out the cover of THR's special Comic-Con magazine cover below as it features Stan Lee in all his glory. Created by Todd McFarlane, Marvel fans will easily spots dozens of comic book tidbits and character references!