Stan Lee, co-creator of numerous Marvel characters including Spider-Man, Black Panther and Iron Man, died on Monday, Nov. 11 at the age of 95.
Lee, who has been dubbed the “godfather of Marvel Comics” by fans and the industry, was rushed to Cedars Sinai Medical Center from his home in Los Angeles, Calif. Monday morning. He died later that night. The writer, producer, cameo star and superhero creator had been having health issues since early 2018, when he experienced pneumonia and an irregular heartbeat.
Lee leaves his daughter, Joan Celia Lee, as his sole heir. However, in the months leading to his death, Lee’s estate has been in a fierce dispute. At the time of his death, Lee is estimated to have had a net worth of over $50 million, but relations with money have been strained in the past.
After his wife Joan’s death in 2017, Lee participated in a lawsuit against former business manager Jerry Olivarez, a former business associate of his daughter J.C.’s and the co-founder of Hands of Respect, accusing him and others of stealing over $4 million from Lee. He also sued the company he co-founded, POW! Entertainment, for $1 billion dollars, claiming several members of the company had conspired to steal his identity.
Other complications came in the form of elder abuse allegations in February when Lee accused co-workers Keya Morgan, Jerardo Olivarez and Kirk Schenck of conspiring to seize his assets through the use of his daughter. Despite complications, however, it appears that Joan Celia Lee stands to inherit her father’s substantial fortune.
Lee was born on Dec. 28, 1922 as Stanley Martin Lieber in New York, N.Y., where he spent his childhood. His career in the comic book industry began in 1939 as an assistant at Timely Comics, a company which would eventually become the beloved Marvel Comics. He released his first successful comic book, “The Fantastic Four,” in 1961 with artist and co-creator Jack Kirby. Shortening his birth name to Stan Lee, he would soon go on to create several of the most iconic superhero characters in any comic universe, including Spider-Man, Iron Man and the Hulk. His characters were known for their humanity and flaws, a concept which revolutionized an industry in which superheroes had previously been inhuman and close to perfection. “The Fantastic Four” changed the comic book industry by launching it into what is now considered its golden age, inspiring a decade-long feud between the two leading comic book companies, DC and Marvel.
Lee has created several of the mainstream comic book characters which have blown up into blockbuster hits. Among these were “Black Panther,” whose film grossed $631 million dollars in the United States, breaking numerous records while tackling race barriers in the film industry.
Following his death, fans and coworkers of Lee have reached out to note the impact he made on their lives. Among them was Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, which purchased Marvel for $4 billion in 2009. Iger said in a statement “Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created. A superhero 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.”