10 Marvel Movie Heroes that Stan Lee DIDN’T Create

 

by: Miguel Cima

If you think Stan Lee is the most important name in comics – not so fast. First of all, there’s reason to question just how much credit he deserves for creating all those famous Marvel Comics superheroes (see Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko for that conversation). But more importantly, Lee stopped being a primary creative force for Marvel in just a few years after the initial superhero explosion in 1961. Plenty of huge characters came after Lee’s tenure – and some even came before. And yet audiences can’t help it. They think Marvel, they think Stan Lee. Who can blame them? The fact is that Stan Lee’s greatest talent has always been promoting Stan Lee. His personal branding skills and almost automatic tendency to shamelessly hog credit have crafted the iconic image of the daddy of all of Marvel. So now, let’s set the record straight. Besides the debate of who-really-created-what, there are a boatload of famous Marvel movie superheroes Lee had absolutely NOTHING to do with. Here’s ten just to get you started, putting a light on the creators that “Funky Flashman” left behind.

 

  1. Howard the Duck
  2. Trapped in a world he never made! Believe it or not, our feathered friend was the very first Marvel character to get his own feature film back in 1986. He has no superpowers, other than his mastery of Quak-Fu, and, yeah, he’s a talking duck from another dimension. This uber-weird character is in fact the brain child of writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Meyrik who were trying to infuse some metaphysical counter-culture in to the kinda-getting-square Marvel Universe. This happened in 1973, two years after Stan stopped writing comics.So Howard’s no feather in his cap.
  3. Blade
  4. I guess 1973 was a good year for post-Stan heroes at Marvel. Appearing in the horror line title Tomb of Dracula, the fearless vampire hunter was co-created by writer Marv Wolfman (yes, that’s his real name!) and artist Steve Gerber (who actually drew most of Howard the Duck’s initial comics run). It was a busy time to add characters of color in mainstream funnybooks, and while it would be 20 years before he got a serious solo title of his own, Blade made plenty of rounds in comics pages. Eventually, he becomes a huge franchise star, three movies deep, and no direct Lee influence whatsoever.
  5. Captain America
  6. What’s that you say? Stan Lee didn’t create good ol’ Cap? But he’s an original Avenger! Actually, he’s not, didn’t make it until his frozen, reanimated body was discovered by Iron Man, Giant Man, Thor and the Wasp in Avengers #4, dated 1963. In fact, Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby back in 1940, when teenaged Stan Lee was the office boy refilling inkpots and grabbing coffee and sandwiches for the adults in the room. And he only got that job because the publisher was his cousin’s husband! Sorry Stan, you had no hand in this box office blockbuster’s initial creation. Yeah, sure, he co-wrote a bunch of stories later on, but so did a million other guys.
  7. Wolverine
  8. Following along the diversity trend, somebody at Marvel figured 1974 was a good time to add a Canadian superhero to the lore. Writer Len Wein and artist John Romita Sr. introduced everybody’s favorite feral slasher as a supporting character in The Incredible Hulk #180 (cameo) and #181 (first full appearance). First on pencil duties was legendary Hulk artist Herb Trimpe. At the time, nobody had any idea how huge of an international star our animalistic Logan would become. Certainly not Stan Lee, who by this point was more of a front man for Marvel rather than any sort of creative force.
  9. The Punisher
  10. Close, but no cigar, Stan. The last issue of The Amazing Spider-Man that Mr. Lee is credited as writing is #110, which came out in 1972. A mere 18 months later, this armed-to-the-teeth vigilante would tangle with Marvel’s resident web-slinger, first as a villain, later becoming a sort of grey-area hero. While no one disputes that writer Gerry Conway created him and artist John Romita Sr. helped design him, Stan claims he helped come up with the character’s name as editor-in-chief at the time (Conway had first suggested the name “Assassin”). But then, Stan has made a lot of claims which are dubious. Just has to dip his beak anywhere he can! Anyway, artist Ross Andru was the first guy to fully render Punny in a full comic, more of a father than Lee!
  11. Ghost Rider
  12. A flaming skull-headed badass from hell on a motorcycle – what’s not to like? And it’s a good thing Stan had no part in this one. Writer Gary Friedrich would eventually take Marvel to court claiming full credit for the character’s creation back in 1972. Co-writer and Marvel editor Roy Thomas also said he helped come up with the demonic biker. And let’s not forget original artist Mike Ploog, who says the whole design was his idea. Well, there was an “amicablesettlement” in 2013, but for once, Stan was smart enough not to jump in and get involved somehow. This satanic roller is pure, 100% not-Lee.
  13. Deadpool
  14. And now we skip all the way up to the 1990’s. At this point, Stan isn’t really active in any major way at Marvel. He’s got an emeritus title and would soon be gearing up to actually sue his old comic company! But that’s another story. The Merc with a Mouth was in fact created by artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza, appearing in 1991’s New Mutants #98. So not every X-Man related character sprang from Stan’s loins (not by a long shot, actually). And besides Wolverine, it’s safe to say Deadpool is the most popular cinematic Marvel Mutant ever.
  15. Guardians of the Galaxy
  16. What’s that? An entire team from one of the hugest Marvel Cinematic Universe’s franchise series? And Stan Lee had nothing to do with their creation? Must be from the 90’s again. Except, nope, the GotG first appeared in 1969, right at the tail end of Lee’s tenure as a writer at the comic company. The guys who first conjured our space heroes were in fact writer Arnold Drake and artist Gene Colan. The duo dropped these space heroes as a backup feature in issue #18 of Marvel Super-Heroes. Not only that, but the rotating members over the years came from a multitude of non-Lee minds. Drax is firmly a Jim Starlin 70’s creation, for example, while Rocket Raccoon is the brainchild of writer Bill Mantlo. But wait! Plant-person Groot was partially created by Stan Lee, right? In Tales to Astonish #13 (1960) along with Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber and Dick Ayers. But back then, he was just another alien invader. It wasn’t until 2006 when he was reimagined as a hero. OK, partial-partial-partial credit, Stan!
  17. Elektra
  18. Few people redefined comics the way artist/writer Frank Miller did on his run in Creating a pastiche of a scary dark New York City riddled with organized crime, Miller introduced an element of film noir and eventually, a mystical backstory on our gritty street-level blind fighter. In 1980, he introduced the assassin Elektra, who was not only a deadly ninja, but also in league with a demon called The Beast hell-bent on destroying the world. Along with later works like Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Miller took comics far away from the colorful Stan Lee days of good guys and bad guys, and into a darker place, where people like Elektra were at once totally evil and totally redeemable. Lee could never write something so nuanced.
  19. Jessica Jones
  20. OK, OK, I’m cheating. This lovely ass-kicking heroine is technically on TV, but hey! We need some more feminine energy to round out the article! Like all but one of her The Defenders TV colleagues, Stan had nothing to do with creating Ms. Jones. In fact, she was created in 2001 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos as a sort of super-private eye. First appearing in Alias #1, she’s the only true millennial on this list, decades away from anytime that Stan Lee was making characters for comics (or really, for much of anyone). And she’s obviously a LOT more famous than say, Stripperella. Who? Just some superhero character that Stan Lee created, no reason you should know her.