The image above is from 1990’s The Ambulance, and it was the first of Stan Lee’s many appearances on the big screen. He reportedly had filmed his cameo for the upcoming 4th installment in the Avengers movie franchise.
He was born in 1922 in New York City. 17 years later he got a job as an “assistant” at Timely Comics, which would ultimately become Marvel Comics. His early duties were making sure the inkwells used by the artists were kept filled, picking up lunches for those artists, proofreading and erasing pencil marks from the completed pages. Those were the humble beginnings of a man who changed the world of superheroes, comic books and ultimately the genre of the superhero movie. He entered the US Army in 1942 and spent his service years writing copy for training manuals and films.
When the superhero returned to comic books, Stan Lee was given the task of creating a roster of such characters for Marvel. His first creation was The Fantastic Four, which he developed in partnership with Jack Kirby. They were followed by The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and The X-Men. Later he would work with Steve Ditko to create Doctor Strange and then Spider-Man. The Avengers would come later.
What separated the Marvel superheroes from those in the D.C. and other publications was the level of character development. These characters were indeed heroic and imbued with incredible abilities, but they were also real people, living real lives when not busy saving the world.
No collection of photos or clips of Stan Lee’s cameo appearances in the Marvel movie universe would do them justice. In viewing the coverage of his passing and observing how people have reacted on social media, there is a common theme. He was a good and caring person. Every selfie I’ve seen him appear in since his passing (and there were a lot of those), he was smiling. For a time about a decade ago, I was a patient of a podiatrist who was also treating Stan Lee. The typical “headshot” wall in that podiatrist’s office was filled with shots of famous folk. Most of them had autographed those pics with the usual short statement. The one signed by Stan Lee had a “real” comment. I never forgot that.
RIP Stan Lee. There are many of us who will always remember your talents and your kindness.