Marvel’s Stan Lee has died. The longtime face of what has become one of the world’s top entertainment franchises, including multiple theme park attractions, was 95.
“Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created. A super hero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain, and to connect. The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart," said Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company.
Together with fellow artists Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Jack Kirby, Bill Everett, John Romita, and others, Lee co-created or oversaw the development of iconic characters such as Spider-Man, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, X-Men, Doctor Strange, and Daredevil. Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922, Lee started work at Timely Comics in 1939 before going into the Army during World War II. After the war, he returned to the company, which became Atlas Comics and then Marvel.
In the 1990s, Marvel partnered with Universal Studios owner MCA to license its franchises for theme park attractions. After initial plans to develop a DC Comics-themed land in Universal's second gate in Orlando fell through, Marvel Super Hero Island opened with Universal's Islands of Adventure in 1999, instantly winning raves for the standard-breaking The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride, which was for years considered by fans the greatest theme park ride in the world.
True to a form that would keep him in the public eye for the next two decades, Lee made a cameo appearance in the Spider-Man ride, setting the stage for recurring cameos in all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
In 2009, Disney bought Marvel for a reported $4 billion, but more theme park attractions were slow to follow, thanks in large part to that perpetual rights contract Marvel signed with Universal back in the 1990s. Though Disney cannot use the Avengers and Fantastic Four characters depicted at Islands of Adventure, or the name "Marvel" in any Walt Disney World attractions, Disney is working around those restrictions by building a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed roller coaster in the old Energy pavilion in Epcot. With freer legal opportunities, Disney is building Marvel-themed Super Hero lands in California's Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland and the Walt Disney Studios park in Paris.
At the latest D23 Expo, in 2017, Disney named Stan Lee a Disney Legend, honoring him for his lifetime of work for Marvel, inspiring multiple generations of artists and storytellers, not to mention millions of fans.Tweet
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