Why Joan Lee is Such an Important Part of the Stan Lee Story

When Stan Lee died on November 12, 2018, the world mourned the loss of an icon; a figurehead of popular culture. Lee’s contribution to Marvel has had an unprecedented global influence, and it is difficult to imagine the current climate without Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko in the picture, pioneers of the pop-culture world we have come to love. Although Stan became the ‘face’ of modern Marvel because of his film cameos, the Marvel universe — cinematic or otherwise — would have been a very different place if it wasn’t for one key influence. The person who would encourage and support Lee, propelling him to massive success: his wife, Joan Lee. Joan was a writer, voice-over actor, and half of one of comics’ most famous unions for over 50 years.

The Lee Origin Story 


Stan Lee Cameo Thor Ragnarok
Stan Lee in his Thor: Ragnarok cameo.

During the 1960s, Stan, at this time an established writer at Marvel, was employed to write stories he felt lacked emotional core. He was tired of their violence and bravado and believed they lacked character nuance and relatability. He wanted to create something richer, something with a stronger backbone of humility and humanity; traits that would come to define Marvel characters and legacy. On the verge of quitting the business, Joan said the words that became a catalyst for change and set her husband’s path on a different trajectory.

“Why don’t you write one the way you want to write it?” she said. “You’re going to quit anyway, so if he [Stan’s boss] fires you, who cares? But get it out of your system.”

These words marked the turning point in Stan’s career; they gave him the fire to write a story in his vision, not the way he was expected, with characters who were heroic and powerful, relatable yet flawed. He created a family of outsiders who would bicker and fight amongst themselves. The comic he wrote was Fantastic Four (1961). Stan may have written the comic, but Joan Lee had changed the game.

Mother Marvel

The Lee union has always been respected and held with affection by fans. She may be primarily viewed as a guiding force — ‘Mother Marvel’ to many — but the vivacious Joan Lee was a successful woman in her own right before she met and married Lee in 1947.

Born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1922, Joan Boocock quickly established a modelling career in her late teens. However, she strove for more and yearned to escape the cold of the North of England in search of adventure and better times. In 1943, at the age of 21, she married Sanford Dorf Weiss, an American serviceman she had known for 24 hours. Joan had acquired the new life she craved but not the great love story.

“In many aspects, it was a great marriage,” Joan once conceded. “But after living with him a year I was finding him sort of boring…”

Never one to follow convention, the day she divorced Weiss was also the day she married Stan, the two services taking place in adjacent rooms in the same building. They married after dating for two weeks, on December 5, 1947, a union that lasted until Joan’s death 69 years later. In one interview, she described her husband as “the best looking, nicest man I’ve ever known”.

The Real Mary Jane Watson 


Mary Jane in the recent PS4 Spider-Man game.

Joan and Stan’s meeting was not a conventional one. It could have even been written by Mr Lee himself.

Stan once described how he “wanted to get married,” after the war.

“I wanted to live with a girl, I was tired of living with sergeants,” he said.

Having established a reputation as something of a womaniser during his youth, he had arranged to meet — at his friend’s suggestion — “a gorgeous redhead” model in New York on a blind date. However, it was Joan, another flame-haired beauty (albeit a married one) who opened the door instead. He was immediately besotted with this girl from Northern England, informing his friend: “I have drawn that girl’s face a thousand times, I am going to marry her”. Six weeks later, they were married in Reno, Nevada, by the same judge who would preside over Joan’s divorce.

Joan’s “comic-book face” (Stan would always say she had the perfect face for comic books), has been rumoured to have influenced various characters, but never more so than Mary Jane Watson, the beautiful red-haired girl-next-door adored by Peter Parker. MJ was created in Joan’s vision, inspired by Stan’s very first meeting with the woman who would soon become his wife on New York’s Madison Avenue.

Stan’s Personal Superhero

Joan would appear in a number of Stan’s projects, both live-action and animated. Her most significant roles occurred during the 1990s, when she appeared in two animated Marvel shows. She voiced Miss Forbes in Fantastic Four as well as Spider-Man’s Madame Web. Then, of course, there was the obligatory Lee cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Although she is best known for steering the canon, in more ways than we will ever know, Joan was also active behind the scenes, both at Marvel and in her own right. In 1987, she wrote The Pleasure Palace, a novel about a man building the world’s most luxurious ocean liner while romancing several women at the same time. Three more unpublished novels were found among her possessions when she died from stroke-related complications on July 16, 2017.

Despite her husband claiming she had no interest in comics, there is more than a touch of the Starks in this synopsis of Joan’s playboy character, a slight inflection of Howard and Tony. Had Tony Stark really been influenced by Howard Hughes as Stan claimed, or had the seed been planted by Joan’s, at that time, unpublished idea? The movie director Kevin Smith once referred to her as “Stan’s personal superhero” and “Marvel Muse” but Joan was infinitely more than a muse, and who knows how much of an influence her unseen work had as she silently, privately, inspired Stan towards ‘Excelsior’?

‘Spider-Verse’ Producers Want Marvel to Reboot the Film in 2038

 

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Interview: ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ Producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller Talk Spider-Man, Stan Lee and Reinventing the Comic Book Movie

Interview: 'Into the Spider-Verse' Producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller Talk Spider-Man, Stan Lee and Reinventing the Comic Book Movie

It is unlike any Spider-Man movie before, and it is on the verge of redefining the way animated movies are made. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse swings into theaters on December 14, and with it comes a super-inventive and visually stunning story that introduces a new Spider-Man of color in Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), along with a smattering of other Spidey characters born out of the character's deep-rooted comics history. 

Into the Spider-Verse is essentially about a young kid…

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Comic book legends, fans mourn the death of Stan Lee

Comic book icon Stan Lee died Monday after a career of bringing heroes to life.

He was 95.

Lee, responsible for legendary characters including Spider-Man, Black Panther, Iron Man, Thor and the Fantastic Four, was memorialized by those who lived through his superheroes and the superheroes he made…

/entertainment – New York Daily News

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Stan Lee, the man who brought superheroes to life, dies at 95

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These Are Some of the Most Beloved Heroes and Villains You’d Never Know Without Stan Lee

In the wake of reports that Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95 on Monday, fans are mourning the loss of the legendary Marvel Comics creator.

Lee, who made cameos in a number of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, is credited with creating some of the most popular comic book superheroes and villains of all time, including Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Incredible Hulk.

“I think everybody loves things that are bigger than life. … I think of them as fairy tales for grown-ups,” he told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview. “We all grew up with giants and ogres and witches. Well, you get a little bit older and you’re too old to read fairy tales. But I don’t think you ever outgrow your love for those kind of things, things that are bigger than life and magical and very imaginative.”

The true origin stories of some superheroes aren’t always clear. But without Stan Lee, the world of heroes and villains would be a lot smaller.

Here are some of the most beloved heroes and villains you’d never know if it wasn’t for Stan Lee.

Heroes created by Stan Lee

• Ant-Man
• Ancient One
• Avengers
• Beast
• Black Panther
• Black Widow
• Captain Marvel
• Cyclops
• Daredevil
• Doctor Strange
• Fantastic Four
• Groot
• Hawkeye
• Hulk
• Human Torch
• Iceman
• Invisible Woman
• Iron Man
• Jean Grey
• Mister Fantastic
• Nick Fury
• Professor X
• Quicksilver
• Scarlet Witch
• Spider-Man
• Thing
• Thor
• Wasp
• X-Men

Villains created by Stan Lee

• Doctor Doom
• Doctor Octopus
• Green Goblin
• Kaecilius
• Kingpin
• Loki
• Magneto
• Sandman
• Vulture
• Whiplash


Entertainment – TIME

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Comic Book Legend Stan Lee, 95, Passes Away

Comic Book Legend Stan Lee, 95, Passes Away

Comic book writer, editor and publisher Stan Lee has passed away, according to The Hollywood Reporter and multiple other sources. He was 95 years old.

It would be impossible to underestimate Lee's influence upon multiple generations of comic book readers and creators, as well as movie lovers and filmmakers. He has left a lasting mark on popular culture, thanks to the textured and beloved characters he created and/or developed, including Spider-Man, Black Panther, The Fantastic Four,…

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