Stan Lee

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With great power there must also come — great responsibility!

Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber 28 December 1922 - 12 November 2018) was an American writer, editor, and memoirist, who — with several artist co-creators, especially Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko — introduced complex, naturalistic characters and a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books.


    • Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) – The first Spider-Man story.
    • In later stories and adaptations, including the 2002 movie, this has appeared as "With great power comes great responsibility."
    • The saying pre-dates Amazing Fantasy. The phrase "with great power goes great responsibility" was spoken by J. Hector Fezandie in an 1894 graduation address at The Stevens Institute of Technology: "The Moral Influence of a Scientific Education", The Stevens Indicator, Volume 11, Alumni and Undergraduates of Stevens Institute of Technology, 1894, p. 217. The exact phrase was repeated during a speech by President Harry S. Truman on November 6, 1950: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, United States Government Printing Office, 1965, p. 703. A UK Member of Parliament implied in 1817 that a variant of it was already a cliché (Thomas C. Hansard, ed (1817). Parliamentary Debates. p. 1227. Retrieved on October 10, 2013. "He should, however, beg leave to remind the conductors of the press of their duty to apply to themselves a maxim which they never neglected to urge on the consideration of government—" that the possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility.""  The editor is quoting William Lamb (pp. 1125–1229)). The sentiment is also found in Luke 12:48: "from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (NIV).
  • Excelsior!
    • Closing signature line on "Stan Lee's Soapbox" editorial pages, since the 1960s.
    • See, for example, Web of Spider-Man 84 (January 1992)
  • 'Nuff Said!
    • Often-used line on "Stan Lee's Soapbox" editorial pages, since the 1960s.
  • Face front, true believer!
    • Often-used line on "Stan Lee's Soapbox" editorial pages.
  • In the early days, I was writing scripts for virtually all the books, and it was very hard to keep all the artists busy; poor little frail me, doing story after story. So I'd be writing a story for Kirby, and Steve Ditko would walk in and say, 'Hey, I need some work now.' And I'd say, 'I can't give it to you now, Steve, I'm finishing Kirby's.' But we couldn't afford to keep Steve waiting, because time is money, so I'd have to say, 'Look Steve, I can't write a script for you now, but here's the plot for the next Spider-Man. Go home and draw anything you want, as long as it's something like this, and I'll put the copy in later.' So I was able to finish Jack's story. Steve in the meantime was drawing another story.....Okay, it started out as a lazy man's device...but we realized this was absolutely the best way to do a comic.....Don't have the writer say, 'Panel one will be a long shot of Spider-Man walking down the street.' The artist may see it differently; maybe he feels it should be a shot of Spider-Man swinging on his web, or climbing upside-down on the ceiling or something.
  • They are working on The Fantastic Four, The Silver Surfer, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, The Hulk— they're doing a sequel to Spider-Man, a sequel to X-Men, and probably a third sequel to Blade. They still haven't gotten around to Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.— they have to do the Ghost Rider.
    • On characters he created in comic books which are being used as the basis of movies. Interview at the DareDevil movie premiere (February 2003).
  • What did Doctor Doom really want? He wanted to rule the world. Now, think about this. You could walk across the street against a traffic light and get a summons for jaywalking, but you could walk up to a police officer and say "I want to rule the world," and there's nothing he can do about it, that is not a crime. Anybody can want to rule the world. So, even though he was the Fantastic Four's greatest menace, in my mind, he was never a criminal!
    • On Doctor Doom, in Stan Lee's Amazing Marvel Universe (2006) by Roy Thomas
  • We tried to make our characters as human and empathetic as possible. Instead of merely emphasizing their super feats, we attempted to make their personal life and personal problems as realistic and as interesting as possible. We wanted to make them seem like real people whom the reader would like to spend time with and want to know better.
  • Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people's well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them -- even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.
  • [F]or me, superheroes will always spark the imagination of people around the world regardless of their background, because I think that people are always looking for something that represents the ideal person or the ideal situation.
    Almost all of us have loved fairy tales when we were young. Just remember stories of giants and witches and wizards and monsters and things that were so colorful and bigger than life.
    But then, you get a little older and you’re too old to read fairy tales. But you never outgrow your love of that type of story.
    And if you think about it, superheroes stories today are really like fairy tales for grown-ups. The characters are bigger than life, just like in fairy tales. They have the same type of superpowers: some can fly, some are extra-strong, some can be invisible.
    It gives the viewer and the reader a chance to relive the excitement he or she had when they were young. They’re really reading fairy tales for grown-ups when they read or when they see superhero stories today, and that’s why I love them so.
  • To me, the human aspect of superheroes has always been, perhaps, the most important part. By that, I mean: Okay, we assume your superhero might be extra-strong, or might be able to fly or run as fast as a comet. But unless you care about the superhero’s personal life, you’re just reading a shallow story.
    Just because a person has a superpower doesn’t mean he might not have the same personal problems that you or I might have. Maybe he doesn’t have enough money, maybe he has a family problem, maybe the girl he loves doesn’t love him. Or maybe the girl he loves doesn’t want to be involved with a superhero.
    There are so many things you can think of that round out the character and the personality, so the superhero isn’t just one or two dimensional.
    You want a three-dimensional superhero who lives and breathes and worries and experiences things just the way you and I do, except for the fact that she or he has a superpower.
  • [M]ost writers — and I think it’s an unfortunate thing — they try to write something that they think a certain audience might enjoy. I’ve never been able to do that, because I can’t put myself in the mind of other people.
    I only know what I enjoy. So every time I’ve written a story, I’ve always tried to write the sort of story that I, myself would enjoy reading, a story that would interest me while I’m writing it as I’m waiting to find out what happens next.
    And I can’t know what other people think, but I can know what I think, and I feel. I’m not that unusual. If there’s a type of story I like, there must be lots of people who like the same type of stories.
    Therefore, I have always written to please myself, not to please a certain type of audience, because you can’t know the audience as well as you know yourself.

Lee Quotes from Movies, TV Series and Video Games

  • “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. 'Nuff said...” - Dialogue from Spider-Man 3
  • Human nature doesn’t change. It’s the environment. What’s happened to us is, the world has been wildly changing,producing new sets of rules each time you blink your eye.None of us is all that different from each other. We all want essentially the same things out of life. A measure of security, some fun, some romance, friendship, and respect of our contemporaries. That goes for Indians, Chinese, Russians, Jews, Arabs, Catholics, Protestants, Blacks, Browns, Whites, and green-skinned Hulks. So why don't we all stop wasting time hating the other guys? Just look in the mirror, mister - that other guy is you! Excelsior! ” - Dialogue from Marvel's Behind The Mask



Quotes about Lee

  • Reflecting back on some of his co-creations in 1975, Stan Lee dubiously claimed that "Marvel Comics has never been into politics" or beholden to an "official party line" before offering a near-apology for the moral simplicity of the portrait of the Vietnam conflict in 1963's "Iron Man Is Born!" (Son of Origins 47.) A disinterested observer would find much evidence to counter these claims in the pages of Tales of Suspense between 1963 and 1968.
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