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Top 10 Iconic Stan Lee Creations

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
He may be gone, but his legacy will live forever. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stan Lee Creations. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most important, game-changing, popular characters and teams co-created by the late great Stan Lee.

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He may be gone, but his legacy will live forever. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stan Lee Creations.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most important, game-changing, popular characters and teams co-created by the late great Stan Lee.

#10: Magneto

Stan Lee is credited with creating some of the most iconic heroes in all of pop culture, but let’s not forget he also created a handful of incredible and timeless villains as well. While we were tempted to go with Doctor Doom, we had to go with the tragic, sympathetic Magneto. Lee stated many times over his career that he didn’t see Magneto as a villain, but rather as a victim of bigotry who was pushed too far. While it was writer Chris Claremont who further developed Magneto into the Malcolm X to Professor X’s Martin Luther King Jr., he was working from Lee’s the groundbreaking foundation.

#9: Black Widow

She may have started out as an antagonist, but this Russian spy would go on to become one of Marvel’s most iconic female heroes, eventually joining its premier team, The Avengers. Part of what makes Black Widow such a compelling character is her complicated backstory. The first generation of costumed superheroes were shining beacons of morality - flawless and unwavering in their commitment to good. Decades later, Stan Lee sought to make Marvel’s superheroes more flawed and relatable, bringing human emotion into the narratives - and in this sense, Black Widow was one of his greatest achievements. A complex character with sins to atone for, Black Widow helped paved the way for the morally complex characters of modern comics.

#8: Daredevil

Debuting in Daredevil #1 in April of 1964, Matt Murdock’s high-flying vigilante quickly took the comic book world by storm. His origin story was one that appealed to the average reader: Murdock was from a working-class Irish-American family well acquainted with poverty. An accident left him blind as a child, but the radioactive substance that took his sight also enhanced his other senses. Motivated by the murder of his father, he would eventually use these abilities to make New York City safer. It’s often taken for granted, but Daredevil was among the earliest and most empowering representations of a disability in comics and beyond, and he’s a character that continues to have a big impact today.

#7: Thor

Stan Lee wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of the universe he was building for Marvel Comics. One of the more out there inclusions in his colorful roster of superheroes was Thor, the Norse god of thunder. By Lee’s own account, he wanted to introduce a heavy hitter, and for him, the only way to get the level of power he was looking for in a character was to use a god rather than a human. Greek and Roman gods were already pretty popular, but he saw an opportunity to put his own spin on a Norse god. Suffice it to say… it worked wonders.

#6: Incredible Hulk

Many a comic book writer has tried to craft a musclebound juggernaut of a hero to compete with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s irradiated Hulk, but none have come close. In creating the character, Lee took inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, Dr.Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, as well as some aesthetics cues from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Then he and Kirby added their own unique origin story and, for whatever reason, some purple pants! As Lee put it, he had recognized that readers liked imperfect characters, and with the Hulk, he wanted to give them both a monster and a man. Hulk is a tortured soul, and that appeal has never worn off.

#5: Black Panther

In addition to being a creator, Stan Lee was also a vocal opponent of racism and prejudice in any form. In Stan’s Soapbox, his monthly column, he made his stance on these issues very clear, encouraging his readership to share his views of equality. In 1966, he used his craft to make a major contribution to Black representation in popular culture with the creation of Black Panther, the first black superhero in mainstream comics. First appearing in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966, T’Challa was not only a skilled combatant, but he was also very scientifically-minded. In short, Black Panther was a groundbreaking, progressive figure in his own time, and has rightfully become a modern day icon.

#4: Iron Man

Following his creation, Iron Man quickly became a linchpin in the interconnected Marvel comics of the 1960s, much like he would on the big screen when the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off. He was also a founding member of the Avengers, a group also created by Lee. As Stan remembered it, the creation of Tony Stark was a way of challenging himself as a writer by introducing a character that fans might not initially like. Stark was a capitalist and weapons manufacturer, which didn’t fit with the anti-war sentiments of the time. But Lee was big on creating flawed characters and sure enough, the readers soon took to this outwardly vain but vulnerable and relatable character.

#3: The X-Men

Overwhelmed by the prospect of having to come up with individual origin stories for each member of his new superhero team, Stan Lee instead devised the concept of mutants within the Marvel universe. Little did he know just what a huge role this class of character would play in the decades to come. The X-Men, arguably more so than any other creation, allowed Lee to address issues of discrimination and prejudice. Over the decades they would expand to cover an entire corner of the Marvel comics universe, and eventually spawn a massive film franchise.

#2: Fantastic Four

We know what you’re thinking: the Fantastic Four are nowhere near as popular as the X-Men! Marvel’s first family might not be as popular with readers today as they once were, but their importance to the industry cannot be overstated. Before Stan Lee created the Fantastic Four, he was considering walking away from the industry. After the decline of Golden Age superhero comics, the medium turned to other genres, which Lee was dissatisfied writing. The Fantastic Four was his last-ditch effort to write the sort of story he wanted to tell - one about superheroes who were imperfect and grappled with personal issues. The Fantastic Four proved a huge success, and the Marvel Revolution began. This creation literally shaped comics as we know them today.

#1: Spider-Man

Stan Lee co-created dozens of iconic characters over the years. A contemporary writer would be extremely lucky to come up with even one hero of comparable success, but such is the magnitude of Stan Lee's contribution to pop culture. With that being said, his single greatest creation was a high school student who, after being bitten by a radioactive Spider and losing his uncle, would learn that with great power comes great responsibility. Thanks in large part to the innovative design by co-creator Steve Ditko, this teenaged hero would go on to connect with innumerable readers, inspiring generations of fans to find the hero in themselves. Spider-Man is one of the greats, and we can’t thank Stan Lee enough for bringing him into our world!

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