Style / November 2018

Director's Cut: Stan Lee

In light of his passing, we reflect upon the life of the inimitable Stan Lee, the legendary writer and producer behind Marvel Comics, who featured in issue 50 of The Rake.

Stan Lee photographed in his office, 1990.

Everyone, whether they like it or not, or know it or not, is culturally impacted by Stan Lee, the seemingly immortal nonagenarian. Film franchises, comic books, television box sets: all of these have not only been infiltrated by this legend’s creations, but also dominated by them. Let’s face it, the Marvel Universe is a colossal success. Three of the top 10 grossing films of all time are Marvel movies (Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3). Earlier incarnations of characters such as Daredevil, the Fantastic Four and Captain America were enormous flops, and itis only in the past decade that the full potential of Stan Lee’s creations have been realised. As well, characters that were hitherto less well known have also become unmitigated successes.

Most recently, Marvel has reached our television screens, with shows such as Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Lee’s latest venture is not a Marvel vehicle but more eponymous and personal: Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, a show about a morally dubious police officer who is granted the power to control luck after he is given an ancient bracelet. The second series airs from February 17on Sky Atlantic. The Rake caught up with Lee to hear about his new work and how telling stories is the ultimate expression of our humanity, as well as our deepest desires.

I think the ways of being able to tell stories has never been more exciting... Your work is known for ordinary people with extraordinary powers or responsibility. What is it about those things that you feel people are so entranced by? Absolutely, there’s more ways of doing it now. It goes back to fairy tales, I think: when you were young you probably read fairytales about giants and magicians and dragons, and things that were bigger than life. I think we always loved those things, but when you get a little older you can’t read fairytales any more —but these stories that deal with somebody who has a superpower, or some theme that is bigger than the normal, realistic theme of every other show, it sort of takes you back to the days when you were reading and enjoying fairytales. I people love things that are very imaginative, and hopefully that are told very well.

Do you think the translation of imagination onto screen takes anything away? Or do you think that if you get the right team, and you write it correctly, anything can be done? I think instead of anything being taken away, once it is on the screen something has been added, a new dimension has been added to it, and it just makes it more palatable than ever.

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Tom Chamberlin

Editor of The Rake Magazine