The ‘Godfather of Comics,’ Stan Lee, is dead at 95 years old.
An attorney for Lee’s daughter told CNN that the Marvel Comics legend was transported from his home in Los Angeles to Cedar's Sinai Medical Center on Monday morning. He passed away at the facility and the cause of his death is currently unknown.
Lee began his comic career in 1939 with Timely Publications, a job he secured with the help of his uncle, and was charged with refilling artists’ inkwells and running errands for Timely staff.
“In those days they dipped the pen in ink, I had to make sure the inkwells were filled,” said Lee in a 2009 Los Angeles Times article. “I went down and got them their lunch, I did proofreading, I erased the pencils from the finished pages for them.”
Of course, his story wasn’t finished there: Timely Publications would morph into Atlas Comics and then Marvel Comics and Lee would go on to head the company’s creative team as editor-in-chief. (He later worked as Marvel’s publisher and chairman, and eventually became the brand’s undisputed figurehead). Over the course of his career, Lee is credited with creating and co-creating some of the world’s most celebrated superheroes, from the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to Spiderman, Daredevil and the Hulk.
Much ink has been spilled – and will continue to be spilled – to eulogize Lee’s immense impact on comics, film and pop culture at large, but we don’t intend to do that here. Instead, we want to look back on Lee’s visit to, and influence on, the Middle Kingdom.
Chinese Box Office Glory
Image via Marvel Studios/IMDB
Superheroes are popular in China, full stop. If you work in a school in the PRC, you’ve probably taught more than one youngster sporting an X-Men T-shirt or carrying a Spiderman lunchbox. If you don’t work in a school, you’ve probably seen the same thing on the subway or bus or anywhere in China, really. The nation’s love of superheroes is perhaps best displayed by the massive success of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, which is currently the 10th highest-grossing film ever released in China with a domestic take of close to RMB2.4 billion.
The Avengers are a team of Marvel superheroes that first debuted in a comic series created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the early ’60s. Lee had a cameo in Avengers: Infinity War (as he does in literally every Marvel film ever) as the driver of a school bus carrying Peter Parker – aka Spiderman.
A Superhero for China
Images via @gem0816/Instagram
Last month in Shanghai, at the first Stan Lee Comic Universe event held in China, Marvel unveiled a brand-new Chinese superhero that Lee had modeled on Chinese pop star G.E.M. (Get Everybody Moving). According to an October 2 post on Stan Lee Studio’s official Weibo account, “Stan Lee has always wanted to create a Chinese superhero! The last time he was in China, he met a talented young girl @GEM鄧紫棋. The power of her singing is the perfect blueprint for Stan Lee to create this superhero! Now the elderly man wants everyone to help him name this Chinese female superhero. He thinks she might be named after a gem...”
The Chinese superhero is called Jewel and she has been described as a “world-touring pop star by day and an ass-kicking superhero by night.” Her superpowers were attained through an incident involving a charm bracelet and she is forced to juggle her abilities and her public role as a celebrity.
The Great Wall Meets the Great Lee
Images via @斯坦李工作室/Weibo
Back in December 2017, the Great Stan Lee came the Middle Kingdom and paid a visit to the Great Wall of China. The trip followed his sale of POW Entertainment to a Chinese company, Camsing International Holding.
As of 11.50am this morning, Stan Lee’s death was the top trending topic on Weibo, with the hashtag #StanLeesdeathmustmakeSheldonverysad (a reference to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory) in the No.1 spot. The next most popular hashtag was #StanLeehaspassedaway.
Netizen’s expressed their sadness, with one Weibo user writing, “I recently saw Stan Lee in the movie Venom, and then heard the news about his passing. I heard that he always appeared in a cameo role in Marvel movies. But I still can’t believe it. Thank you for making us smile, shaping the heroes we look up to and in the midst of silence becoming our biggest hero. I hope you have superhero protection in the next place.”
Image via @歆久er/Weibo
Another user wrote, “The East has lost Louis Cha, the West has lost Stan Lee, 2018 has been a year of enormous suffering,” referencing the recent death of celebrated Chinese novelist Louis Cha at the age of 94.
Below, we leave you with a video collection of Stan Lee’s various film cameos from 1989 to 2018 (VPN off):
[Cover image via @TheRealStanLee/Twitter]