This past Friday, Disney+ released a brand-new documentary, “Stan Lee”, which is the official documentary film about Stan “The Man” Lee and his journey to becoming one of the most influential people in the world of comic books and pop culture. Tracing his life from his challenging upbringing as Stanley Lieber to the meteoric rise of Marvel Comics, “Stan Lee” tells Stan’s story in his own words.
Using only archival material—from personal home video, interviews and audio recordings—the film examines Stan’s origin story and what emerged from it: a far-reaching universe of stories with three-dimensional characters that have resonated with people all over the world. In this way, “Stan Lee” is both a story of comics and passion, and an intimate portrait of a man, his philosophy and its lasting impression.
However, this documentary hasn’t pleased everyone, as while the documentary addressed the falling out between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, it was kept pretty brief. Jack Kirby is the co-creator of the majority of classic Marvel characters in the early-to-mid 1960s such as the Fantatic Four and the Incredible Hulk. But left in 1970, as Stan Lee became the face of Marvel Comics and took credit for all of the characters, until there was a lawsuit which saw Jack Kirby listed as a co-creator of many of the characters.
Over the weekend, Jack Kirby’s son, Neal, released a statement about the Disney+ documentary through his daughter’s social media account, Jillian Kirby.
Here’s the full statement:
“[I] understand that, as a “documentary about Stan Lee.” most of the narrative is in his voice, literally and figuratively. It’s not any big secret that there has always been controversy over the parts that were played in the creation and success of Marvel’s characters. Stan Lee had the fortunate circumstance to have access to the corporate megaphone and media, and he used these to create his own mythos as to the creation of the Marvel character pantheon. He made himself the voice of Marvel. So, for several decades he was the “only” man standing, and blessed with a long life, the last man standing (my father died in 1994). It should also be noted and is generally accepted that Stan Lee had a limited knowledge of history, mythology, or science.On the other hand, my father’s knowledge of these subjects, to which I and many others can personally attest, was extensive. Einstein summed it up better; “More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego.”If you were to look at a list and timeline of Marvel’s characters from 1960 through 1966, the period in which the vast majority of Marvel’s major characters were created during Lee’s tenure, you will see Lee’s name as a co-creator on every character, with the exception of the Silver Surfer, solely created by my father. Are we to assume Lee had a hand in creating every Marvel character?”
“Are we to assume that it was never the other co-creator that walked into Lee’s office and said,“Stan, I have a great idea for a character!” According to Lee, it was always his idea. Lee spends a fair amount of time talking about how and why he created the Fantastic Four, with only one fleeting reference to my father. Indeed, most comics historians recognize that my father based the Fantastic Four on a 1957 comic he created for DC, “Challengers of the Unknown,” even naming Ben Grimm (The Thing) after his father Benjamin, and Sue Storm after my older sister Susan.Though the conflict between Lee and my father concerning creator credit gets glanced over with little mention, there is more attention paid to the strife between Lee and Steve Ditko, with Lee’s voice proclaiming, “it was my idea, therefore I created the character,”Ditko’s rebuttal being that his art and storyline is what brought life to Spiderman. In 1501, the Opera del Duomo commissioned a 26-year-old Michelangelo to sculpt a statue of David for the Cathedral of Florence – their idea, their money. The statue is called Michelangelo’s David – his genius, his vision, his creativity.”
“Lee had over 35 years of uncontested publicity, much, naturally, with the backing and blessing of Marvel as he boosted the Marvel brand as a side effect of boosting himself. The decades of Lee’s self-promotion culminated with his cameo appearances in over 35 Marvel films starting with “X-Men” in 2000, thus cementing his status as the creator of all things Marvel to an otherwise unknowing movie audience of millions, unfamiliar with the true history of Marvel comics. My father’s first screen credit didn’t appear until the closing crawl at the end of the film adaptation of Iron Man in 2008, after Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Larry Lieber. The battle for creator’s rights has been around since the first inscribed Babylonian tablet. It’s way past time to at least get this one chapter of literary/art history right. ’Nuff said.”
Have you watched “Stan Lee” on Disney+? What did you think of it? Let us know on social media!
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.