The Doctor Strange marks the umpteenth Marvel character to no doubt run away with box office receipts. Ninety-three-year-old Stan Lee not only helped give birth to this neurosurgeon-turned-magical crime fighter, but countless other characters as well. Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four – if you can think of a superhero not named Batman or Superman, there's a good chance Mr. Lee had a hand in his or her creation.
The prodigious pencil pusher keeps a careful watch over his brood by way of his obligatory Marvel Cinematic Universe on-screen cameos that have become as much a staple of the franchise as post-credits bonus scenes. And as this following selection of his sayings suggests, the bon mots from Lee’s mouth are almost as plentiful as the muscled marvels that came out of his head.
On why he’s the real hero
“I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives.”
On Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s success
“Maybe Spider-Man is just an easy role to play.”
On his one-word mantra
“You know, my motto is ‘excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory.’”
On his glorious WWII heroics
“I drew a little cartoon of a soldier. There’s the green light. Over his head there’s a dialogue balloon that says, ‘VD? Not me!’ They printed a couple million of them. I figure we probably won the war based on that.”
On a certain Avengers villian's origin story
“I have to be honest I don’t have any idea who the hell Ultron is. He was a character developed after I stopped being involved in the Avengers story.”
On why the Hulk didn't smash the box office
“Well, my own feeling is that in the first two, they made him too powerful. I never conceived of him that way, and I didn't think it was necessary for him to be that big. I thought he could’ve been seven and a half feet tall. That's quite enough.”
On his troubled relationship with two former Marvel luminaries
“I don’t want anyone to think I treated [Jack] Kirby or [Steve] Ditko unfairly. I think we had a wonderful relationship. Their talent was incredible. But the things they wanted weren’t in my power to give them.”
On his interest in mutants
“In the case of the X-Men, I wanted to do a [comic] that would point out the injustice and wrongheadedness of bigotry.”
On an actual higher power
“I’ve had a long enough life. I’d hate to leave my wife and my daughter, but heaven knows it’s beyond me. And I don’t even really believe in heaven.”
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