Image taken from The Hollywood Reporter
Stan Lee created roughly 327 characters, mostly for Marvel Comics, over the course of his 95-year lifespan. A considerable portion of those have now appeared in cinemas, to say nothing of television live action or animated and video games. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become in only a decade, the most financially lucrative film franchise of all time, beating Harry Potter, Star Wars, and James Bond 007. And it’s all because the right man was at the right place at the right time in the early 1940s, when Marvel went by “Timely”.
They’re varying reports on how Lee actually began his revolutionary career in comic books from varying sources. This is not helped by Lee having been a master self-advertiser who controversially often kept the spotlight away from other critical figures in Marvel’s early 60’s renaissance. Figures like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Don Heck, Robert Bernstein, Gil Kane, Don Rico, John Buscema, John Romita Sr., and his own still living brother, Larry Leiber. Much like Walt Disney for his titular company in a sense, he went from being a creator to a decades spanning apologist for Marvel and the comics industry at large. He helped make what was once part of a considered disposable genre of popular culture into a leading aspect of our overall culture. The nerds, in time, won. Lee led the charge in the 1970s going forward into today, his porno stache’ along for the ride, though it eventually evolved into a kindly uncle/grandpa stache’.
Of the 327 characters I managed to source from wikipedia, the characters and their respective connected film series of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Black Panther as well as the teams like The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, can be traced back to Lee, though it’s debatable how much actual involvement he had with the original, obscure Guardians. The next MCU film, Captain Marvel, will be the first with no direct or indirect relation to Lee, as the Guardians of the Galaxy movies have had Lee’s Groot and (possibly) Yondu. He did help create the original Captain Marvel, the heroic alien Kree called Mar-Vell, which will be portrayed in the upcoming film by Jude Law, so I guess I should say that the film does have a notable connection to Lee after all, just not in titular character exactly.
Aside from honoring his legacy, most people are now fixated with what his final cameo appearance will be in the MCU, to say nothing of other non-MCU properties like possibly X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The fourth still untitled Avengers has been confirmed to feature Lee as has Captain Marvel. It’s uncertain if Spider-Man: Far from Home, the last Phase 3 MCU feature has an appearance by Stan the Man. Honestly, I feel his last appearance being in Avengers 4 would be the most appropriate, as the next Avengers is being signaled as the “end of the MCU as we know it”, not the end of the film universe period, but an end, nonetheless. Considering a big number of his characters will be signing off next year, including Downey Jr’s Iron Man, Evans’ Captain America, Ruffalo’s Hulk and maybe Hemsworth’s Thor, it would be a poignant conclusion in more ways than one.
Stan Lee will also very likely be featured at the 2019 Oscars’s “In Memoriam” section of the show, and it would be frankly insulting if he wasn’t. If I had to choose a clip to be used for Lee’s part of the Memoriam, it would be the final post credits scene from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where Lee, in a spacesuit, panics as the bored alien “Watchers” leave him alone, tired of his tales. “I have so many more stories to tell! At least give me a lift home!” That would be Excelsior in remembrance. Nuff said. Ever.