Stan Lee, co-creator of Marvel Comics and such iconic characters as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, has died aged 95.
Lee was rushed to hospital from his Hollywood Hills home on Monday morning and later died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre.
The well-known American-Jewish writer, who recently suffered a bought of pneumonia, founded Marvel Comics with Jack Kirby in 1961.
Many of the characters’ stories have since been turned into Hollywood films, turning the Marvel brand into a multi-billionaire dollar business.
Lee was renowned for making brief comical cameos in each of the Marvel universe films.
After the news was announced, tributes began pouring in from across the entertainment industry, with director Edgar Wright, executive producer on the Antman film, saying: “Stan Lee, RIP. Thanks for inspiring so many of us to pick up a pen or pencil and put your dreams onto paper. Excelsior!”
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk wrote: “Rest in peace, Stan Lee. The many worlds of imagination & delight you created for humanity will last forever.”
Actor Seth Rogen also said on Twitter: “Thank you Stan Lee for making people who feel different realize they are special.”
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said: “No one has had more of an impact on my career and everything we do at Marvel Studios than Stan Lee.
“Stan leaves an extraordinary legacy that will outlive us all.
“Our thoughts are with his daughter, his family, and his millions of fans. #ThankYouStan #Excelsior!”
Rest in peace, Stan Lee. The many worlds of imagination & delight you created for humanity will last forever.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 12, 2018
Thank you Stan Lee for making people who feel different realize they are special.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) November 12, 2018
In a statement the Walt Disney Company, which bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009, saluted Lee’s “unmatchable” life and career.
“Every time you open a Marvel comic, Stan will be there,” it said. “Please join us today in remembering Stan ‘The Man’ Lee.”
Chairman and chief executive Bob Iger added: “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.”
The cast of The Big Bang Theory shared a picture of themselves with Lee, who appeared on the programme.
They said: “In loving memory of Stan Lee. It was an honor to have him on The #BigBangTheory. Thank you for being a real life super hero to so many generations. Your legend will live on.”
Meanwhile actress Mayim Bialik posted to Instagram: “What a loss to the world of geeks, nerds, superheroes and everyone who has enjoyed the marvelous Universes that @therealstanlee crafted and molded and allowed us to be a part of. There will never be another like him, that’s for sure. #stanlee”
Born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York in December 1922, Lee’s father was a dress cutter who worked only intermittently after the Great Depression.
As a teenager he lived with his family in a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx, where he was influenced by books and Errol Flynn movies.
He got his start in comics in 1939 when he became an assistant at Timely Comics, filling inkwells, proofreading and fetching lunch.
By the 1960s Timely would evolve into Marvel Comics.
He made his comic book debut with the text filler “Captain America Foils The Traitor’s Revenge” in Captain America Comics #3, published in May 1941, for which he used the pseudonym Stan Lee.
He graduated from writing filler two issues later and his first superhero co-creation, the Destroyer, followed soon afterwards in Mystic Comics #6 in August 1941.
Other characters co-created during this period include Jack Frost and Father Time.
By the time Lee entered the US Army in 1942 he had been appointed interim editor.
In the mid 1950s Timely was known as Atlas Comics and Lee was writing romance, Westerns, sci fi and horror.
That all changed at the end of the decade when a DC Comic editor revived the superhero archetype with an updated version of The Flash and later with the Justice League Of America.
In response, Lee was tasked with creating a new superhero team, prompting him and artist Jack Kirby to create the Fantastic Four, based on Kirby’s previous Challengers Of The Unknown.
The radical story of reluctant superheroes whose powers are forced upon them broke the mould and was immediately popular and led to the creation of the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and the X-Men, as well as Daredevil with Bill Everett and Doctor Strange and Spider-Man with Ditko.
Lee and Kirby grouped some of the characters into The Avengers, reviving the Sub-Mariner and Captain America.