Birthday special: How Stan Lee fashioned his superheroes as a counterpoint to DC’s ‘gods’

Written by Kshitij Rawat | New Delhi | Published: December 28, 2017 9:46 am Stan Lee celebrates his 95th birthday today.

Stan Lee, who turns 95 today, is a comic-book legend who has seemingly been around forever. This man is responsible for creating some of the most iconic superheroes like Spider-man, Iron Man, Hulk that we read in comics and watch in TV shows and movies. Even now at this age, the guy is active and can be seen in events like comic-con and interacting with his fans. For non-readers, he is just a jolly old grandpa who makes tiny cameos in Marvel movies, but for comic-book readers, he is nothing short of a godfather.

DC’s superheroes have always been godlike, especially the big three – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Even Batman, who is just a human as opposed to others, is less accessible than most fictional characters. He is a brooding man with almost a single-minded obsession to crime-fighting. Stan Lee wanted to do something different. He wanted to create superheroes who were vulnerable, who bled, who hurt, who were petulant, and had everyday problems, not just supervillains. Most of all, he wanted to give readers something to relate to. Let’s face it. Superman might be awesome, but it is hard to relate to an all-powerful alien.

Take Spider-man for example. His alter-ego is a teenager (or at least a young adult) who has problems every young person has. Girlfriend problems, assignments, studies, and whatnot. Stan Lee famously said about Superman, “He was never very interesting to me because I was never worried about him. And if you’re not worried about the jam your hero is in, there’s no excitement.”

While DC had fictional cities like Gotham and Metropolis for their superheroes, Stan Lee’s Spider-man was based in good-old Big Apple. Without Stan Lee, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Avengers and indeed the highly profitable Marvel Cinematic Universe would not exist. Happy birthday, Stan Lee!

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