Stan Lee, the legendary comic book creator of some of Marvel’s most iconic heroes, has died at the age of 95, his family attorney confirmed to the Associated Press.
Lee was declared dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to Kirk Schenck, an attorney for Lee’s daughter, J.C. Lee.
Lee’s “secret origins” go back to New York City, where he was born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922. He started writing comics as a teenager with Timely Comics in 1939 and kicked off the company’s transformation into Marvel Comics in 1961.
WATCH BELOW: The life and times of comics legend Stan Lee
Lee and artist Jack Kirby launched Marvel with The Fantastic Four, reinvigorating a comics industry that had been dominated for decades by the likes of Batman and Superman.
Lee would go on to create many of Marvel’s best-known heroes including Spider-Man, Black Panther, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Thor and Doctor Strange.
WATCH: Calgary comics fans are celebrating the life of a legend by remembering Stan Lee’s connection to the city. As Gil Tucker shows us, they’re reliving the excitement of the time Spiderman paid a visit to the Stampede.
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Lee quickly became a figurehead for Marvel as its top writer, publisher, editor-in-chief and charismatic ambassador. With catchphrases such as “Excelsior,” he was a tireless promoter of Marvel and comics in general.
He became well-known for writing sophisticated stories with colourful yet flawed characters such as the hard-luck Spider-Man, the blind Daredevil and the frequently feuding Fantastic Four.
WATCH: Comic book fans mourn Stan Lee
“He changed the way we look at heroes, and modern comics will always bear his indelible mark,” DC Comics tweeted on Monday after his death.
“Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created,” Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney, Marvel’s parent company, said in a statement. “A superhero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain, and to connect.”
WATCH BELOW: Stan Lee appears at Calgary’s Comic Expo in 2016
Lee considered the comic book medium an art form and worked tirelessly to generate new content in his heyday.
“I wrote so many I don’t even know. I wrote either hundreds or thousands of them,” he told The Associated Press in 2006.
“I think everybody loves things that are bigger than life. … I think of them as fairy tales for grown-ups,” he told the AP. “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.”
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Lee spent his later years in semi-retirement, touring comic conventions and appearing in cameo roles in dozens of Marvel movies.
His wife and partner in nearly everything, Joan Lee, died on July 6, 2017, leaving a void that made her husband vulnerable to hangers-on who began to surround him. Lawsuits, court fights and an elder abuse investigation all emerged in the fight over who spoke for the elderly Lee.
Lee is survived by his daughter, Joanie, and a younger brother who also worked in comics, Larry Lieber.
“There will never be another Stan Lee,” tweeted Captain America actor Chris Evans. “He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives.”
“Thanks for everything,” Canadian Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds tweeted.
Stan Lee has reportedly filmed a cameo for the next Avengers film, due out on Apr. 26, 2019.
—With files from the Associated Press