The co-creator of Spider-Man, the Avengers, X-Men, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four passed away on Monday morning.
Within his 95 years, Lee became the most famous comic book creator in the history of comic books as a writer and editor for Marvel Comics. His career began in 1941 at the age of 17, when he published his first work which was a prose story that appeared in the fifth issue of the Captain America Comics. However, it was the 1960’s when he earned his reputation and offered pop-culture his history making creativity.
Born Stanley Leiber, Lee opted to “save that name” for serious writing as he assumed that as a teenager, the comic books would be a brief stop and that he would later become a novelist and playwright in short order. Instead, his career in comics would continue for seven decades, leaving a legacy that will outlive many.
His persona utilized huckster charm and he was enthusiastic about everything comic book related — this made him an American pop culture icon and ambassador across the world. It became tradition for studios to give Lee cameo appearances in Marvel film adaptations, with his first of over thirty appearances made in X-Men in 2000.
Fans of his comics and characters thrive around the world, but a producer revealed that Lee had been working to bring a series that included an indigenous hero to fruition.
Kevin Gillis, creator of the animated series “The Raccoons,” says as recently as a few years ago he was working with Lee on a live-action version of an unrealized comic book idea “very near and dear to his heart.”
The show was called “Stan Lee’s The Chosen” and the concept revolved around an indigenous man that left his reserve to pursue a career as a Toronto police officer. However, when the man’s father dies, he learns that he is next in line to be initiated as a shaman and has inherited powers from his ancestors.
Through this series, Lee wanted the storyline to explore the man finding connection to his heritage and contrast it with his life in the city, said Gillis. He also was firm in the choice of the man’s power.
“Stan was very clear, he didn’t want him to fly, he wanted him to have vulnerabilities. The one gift that he [had] was he could see things a few seconds before they happened,” Gillis added.
Lee’s choice in actor for the role landed on Dog Creek Native Adam Beach.
But even with Lee’s reputation for building solid characters like Spider-Man, the Hulk and X-Men, bringing “The Chosen” to life was a struggle. It wasn’t for a lack of trying on Lee’s part either, added Gillis. The Marvel figurehead was so enthusiastic about “The Chosen” that he pulled out his tireless charm at every turn.
One day he asked Gillis to borrow his iPad, and recorded a personal message to each Canadian TV executive saying “how important it was that he wanted to do this series before he died,” Gillis said.
“I’d walk into the pitch meetings and before I got Stan on the phone I’d hand the iPad over to the executive.”
While European broadcasters signed onto the idea, Gillis said getting the rest of the financing into place didn’t go as smoothly. Global TV in Canada told the pair it could only afford the budget if a U.S. broadcaster was on board too, but that never happened, Gillis said. The deal fell apart.
“We’re still trying to get it made,” he said.
The legacy of Stan Lee has been immortalized in nearly every way possible, if the series comes to fruition there will only be more to appreciate about the creative genius.