It is an unfortunate time when the legendary Marvel creator – Stan Lee – passed away at the age of 95. Along with Jack Kirby, without Stan Lee we could have never seen the awesome Marvel heroes and villains as we do nowadays like Iron Man, Spider Man, X Men, and more… And so, to honor his dedications and achievements, let’s check out the top 10 Stan Lee greatest characters!
10. Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four was said to be Stan Lee’s very first creation with Jack Kirby. They were first debuted in the first Fantastic Four #1 in 1961. The team was originally introduced as a 4-men space exploration team. However at one point, their ship was struck by a cosmic radiation which caused it to crash on Earth. “Fortunately”, all four members were still alive; yet, their physical body has changed forever and furthermore, gained supernatural power. With their newfound powers, they called themselves “Fantastic Four” including Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and The Thing. Together they continue their mission of exploring the unknown space and breaking through any obstacles.
The most influential part about the Fantastic Four is that: they began a new superhero trend in which the heroes are more realistic, more humane, and more relatable. Despite having superhero-vibe, the Fantastic Four is not exactly a superhero team. In fact, they are still mostly explorers and thus, they are still human. They are not some perfect entities, they do quarrel with each other, and they do make mistakes. And before someone may think Fantastic Four is underwhelming, here’s the thing: Fantastic Four has many awesome stories and interesting characters, including the infamous villain Doctor Doom. The main reason why they may look unimpressive from public perspective is because all of their movie adaptations could not catch up with its true potential. And of course, many Marvel fans probably understand what we mean by that.
9. Doctor Doom
Just as the Fantastic Four was created, so too were many alien races like the Kree, the Skrull, and some of Marvel’s most fearsome villains: Galactus and Doctor Doom. But in this list, we picked Doctor Doom due to how crazy and iconic he is throughout Fantastic Four history and Marvel in general.
Doctor Doom (real name: Victor von Doom) has always been regarded as Fantastic Four’s most dangerous foe (and even among the most dangerous villains in Marvel Universe) for a good reason. Firstly, he possesses a genius-level intellect which is arguably surpassing Tony Stark a.k.a Iron Man. And secondly, he is a man of extreme ambition. Doctor Doom is arrogant, yet, there is a good reason for his pride. He constantly seeks power, including both technological and magical power. He even stole the power of exceptional entities like Silver Surfer and even the Beyonder. What about Doom’s best arc? Probably the Secret War in which he literally became the God Emperor Doom of his own world called Battleworld.
8. Black Panther
Let’s be frank, there are not many times when we can see a black superhero. And fortunately, Stan Lee brought us an exceptional black superhero: T’Challa a.k.a the Black Panther. And after the massive success of Black Panther movie, we can pretty sure that this amazing hero will have more appearance in the future.
As for the Black Panther – T’Challa character himself, he was originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and he first appeared in Fantastic Four #52. T’Challa was introduced as the king of a fictional African country called Wakanda which is actually an extremely developed country, yet hidden from the world. Not only T’Challa is an honorable king who also possesses an incredible power, he is also among the most intelligent humans alongside with Doctor Doom, Tony Stark (Iron Man), and Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic). With all that said, probably the most significant aspect about Black Panther is that he was the very first African superhero in American comics. He preceded years before other black superheroes like the Falcon (1969), Luke Cage (1972), Blade (1973), and John Stewart the Green Lantern from DC Comics (1971). Even today, Black Panther still has a significant influence in American entertainment especially after specifically the 2016 Black Panther movie. And before someone may ask, no, he does not relate to the Black Panther Party, whatsoever.
7. X Men
The X Men film series has always told serious, thought-provoking stories, yet, their creation is quite a fun story. It was all started with Stan Lee who was somewhat struggling to create a new line of superhero after the huge success of Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man. Frankly speaking, imagining new superheroes were not a hard work for him. In fact, he thought of several characters that later on became prominent superheroes in X Men like “a guy who shoots beams from his eyes, a human ice machine, a telekinetic teenage girl, and their mentor, a telepath in a wheelchair.” But then there was one problem came to Lee’s mind: How could he explain their power? And funny enough, Lee came up with a simple solution: let’s just simply call them as mutants! That’s why they had extra powers!
At first, Lee planned to call his new creations as the Mutants; however, Marvel’s publisher was afraid that children would not know the word. Therefore, Lee settled with the name “X Men” instead. And so, the famous X Men series started and boomed into a huge comic series and also, a famous movie series. It sets up various characters loved by tons of fans around the world like Professor X, Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Magneto. And good news for fans of X Men, there will be two new X Men movies coming in 2019: Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants.
6. Professor X and Magneto
Among all X Men characters, Professor X and Magneto are probably the most important due to their influences in the X Men ideologies. Each of them represents a different approach on discrimination problem regarding the mutants. From Professor X’s perspective, mutants are basically human; it is just that they are “unfortunate” to have abnormal power. For him, peace between the mutants and normal humans can be achieved by understanding and conflict should be settled with harmony means. While from Magneto’s perspective, discrimination towards mutants can only be dealt with force. The best way to make the humans leaving mutants alone is through violence means.
Both characters wish the same thing for their brethren, yet their methods are completely opposing each other. And this exact social aspect is what makes the X Men’s stories interesting. To certain extent, people consider these two Stan Lee’s creations to be inspired by two real-life figures: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Nonetheless, these two characters will forever be among the most significant creations by Stan Lee.
5. The Hulk
This green-skinned brutish hero has always been among the most iconic heroes in America to date; however, he had quite a problematic start. The Hulk was first created by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko for his own series The Incredible Hulk in 1962. Yet for some reason, the series was cancelled after six issues. Fortunately, he got to return frequently in Tales to Astonish and ultimately, the series was renamed to The Incredible Hulk with issue #102.
Interesting enough, many people have pointed out that The Hulk strongly resembles to other fictional characters: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein. In The Hulk’s case, he is originally a genius scientist named Bruce Banner but then one day, he was exposed to a mysterious Gamma ray. Although Banner still looks like a normal human being, he actually has a side persona/transformation called as The Hulk – a giant, brutish entity which is triggered by rage. The concept of The Hulk may be simple, but we can’t deny one fact that he is one of the most popular Marvel characters to date. In fact, he did have a 5-season live-action series and 3 live-action spin-off films. And of course, he played an important role in the current era MCU movies, especially as the one of the Avengers founding members.
It is pretty clear that Stan Lee took inspiration for Marvel’s Thor from real-life god Thor from Norse Mythology. But of course when coming to Marvel Universe, Lee took lots of freedom and reimagining this powerful God of Thunder. The character was first introduced in Journey Into Mystery #83 in 1962 as Donald Blake, a doctor who carried a walking stick. But turned out, Blake was actually Thor the God of Thunder and his stick became Mjolnir when he transformed to his true form.
As the mighty God of Thunder, Thor possesses godlike physical abilities, along with the power to control lightning. His signature hammer – Mjolnir – even amplifies his power even further with various abilities like weather control or energy manipulation which is on par with the Silver Surfer. And just like The Hulk, Thor is also among the most popular Marvel heroes to date, and also, a founding member of The Avenger.
Every hero has his/her own nemesis in case of Thor; it is Loki the God of Mischief. Marvel’s Loki was first introduced in Journey into Mystery #85 in 1962 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber as a step-brother to Thor. Loki’s original story was somewhat similar to his real-life mythology counterpart: Loki was born as a giant, yet adopted by Odin out of his honor to Loki’s family. This made Loki a proper “Prince of Asgard”, yet he always resented his brother Thor out of jealousy. Despite being an extremely intelligent, talented spellcaster, Loki seemed to find little respect in a culture of warriors like Asgard. And so, Loki grew even more malicious and evil, so too his schemes and nefarious plans of killing Thor and claiming the throne of Asgard.
Just like many other Marvel characters, Loki has become even more popular thanks to Tom Hiddleston’s brilliant performance. That said, in Marvel Comics, Loki himself is a fascinating villain character with lots of depths within him. His character is now being even more interesting when he was dead, then reborn as a brand new Loki with good alignment. Of course, he is still a scheming, manipulator, and we are quite intrigued to see what he will do in future issues.
2. Iron Man
Tony Stark, a.k.a Iron Man, is no doubt among the most famous Marvel superheroes nowadays and we have to give our thanks to Robert Downey Jr. for his awesome effort of bringing this playboy/billionaire/genius from comics to life. But before that, we have to honor Stan Lee for creating this awesome character alongside with Jack Kirby and Don Heck.
Iron Man is an extremely interesting superhero and this is mostly thanks to how “human” he is. Just like the Fantastic Four, Iron Man/Tony Stark is originally a human with human problems. In fact, Tony Stark would not have been a superhero if not for a certain event happened to his life. Despite being a genius, Tony Stark was quite arrogant at first and also, he has a serious issue of alcoholism, especially under stress. But thanks to such flaws, they created opportunity for Tony Stark to grow as a character and nowadays, we can’t help but to fall in love with this fictional character.
1. Spider Man
And finally at number 1 we have Spider Man, a.k.a Peter Parker, who is widely considered as Stan Lee’s most favorite creation. Whether such statement is true or not, we can’t say for sure but one thing we can sure is that: He is no doubt the most iconic mascot for Marvel to date.
The story of Spider Man’s creation is also an interesting one. It is said that back in the day, Stan Lee tried to come up with a superhero with unique story which had never been explored before. And so, he came up with a teenager character who had superhuman abilities and power to shoot web and crawl walls. But when Lee brought up the concept for the first time, the editor Martin Goodman did not approve the idea since he believed that teenager could not become superhero and such character would not be received well in public. But what did he know? Spider Man turned out to be a massive success, both popularity and commercially.
Spider Man is the best representation of Stan Lee’s relatable hero concept since Fantastic Four. As mentioned, Spider Man is a quirky teenager named Peter Parker who has quite a tragic life. And for the first time, people got to see a superhero who paid more attention to… how to pay his aunt’s bill rather than fighting cosmic threats. Since Peter Parker is a teenager, he is so relatable to young audience. He has real-life problem, a relatable struggle of how to be a better man while maintaining balance between his career and daily life. Even today, no one can deny the influence of Spider Man throughout the world’s entertainment and pop culture.
And that’s it folks! Those are the top 10 Stan Lee greatest characters? Don’t agree with our list? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!
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