Posted by Tom Bacon @TomBacon
I'm a British guy who has a particular love of superhero movies - and I'm having a great time writing for Movie Pilot! Feel free to foll...
Tom Bacon

His name is legendary among superhero fans. As the co-creator of countless Marvel superheroes, ranging from Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four, Stan Lee has become a cultural icon. His memoirs have already been transformed into a comic (appropriately entitled Amazing! Fantastic! Incredible!), but now it seems that Stan Lee's life is going to take another twist. 20th Century Fox has acquired the rights to Stan Lee's story, and the plan is to turn him into an action hero!

A Legendary Story

Pages from Stan Lee's memoir! Image: Simon & Schuster
Pages from Stan Lee's memoir! Image: Simon & Schuster

The story of Stan Lee is a remarkable one. He was almost on the verge of quitting comics altogether when Fantastic Four was commissioned. To everybody's surprise, the success of Fantastic Four was the beginning of a cultural phenomenon, and Stan Lee became more successful than he could ever have dreamed!

According to The Hollywood Reporter, though, the Stan Lee movie isn't about his humble beginnings; it's expected to be set in the 1970s. By that time, Lee had pretty much left comics behind him and set up shop in Hollywood, petitioning for Marvel movies. Ironically enough given Marvel Studios's current success, back then nobody was interested. It was 1998's Blade that really convinced studios that Marvel superhero films could work.

Incredibly, it seems that this movie isn't intended to be a biopic. The plan is to recreate Stan Lee as a dapper secret-agent figure, with a girl on each arm and an easy quip as he deals with the bad guys. It's an approach that Marvel fans will find amusingly familiar; Stan Lee is essentially being reinvented in the pattern of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

The Irony of the Stan Lee Movie

A star at panels! Image: Wikipedia Common
A star at panels! Image: Wikipedia Common

It may come as something of a surprise to hear that this series is being developed by 20th Century Fox; Marvel Entertainment has literally zero involvement. Although Lee still cameos in Marvel movies, he largely moved on from the company a long time ago.

That said, there's a beautiful irony in a Stan Lee action series being developed by Fox. 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios are rumored to have a very tense relationship - X-Men fans in particular are convinced branches of Marvel are trying to kill the mutants off in a misguided attempt to damage Fox's X-Men franchise. Over on the TV side, things seem much healthier; Marvel Entertainment and Fox Television are working together on shows such as Legion and an as-yet-unnamed X-Men spinoff. Still, it's amusing that one of Marvel's biggest competitors has signed off on the Stan Lee film!

A Reinvention of Stan Lee

A living legend. Image: Wikipedia Common
A living legend. Image: Wikipedia Common

Stan Lee has always been concerned with his image. He's encouraged the popular view that he's essentially the creator of Marvel's icons, when there's a lot of evidence to indicate he was sometimes a lot less important than the artists. (If you want to dig into this topic, I recommend Sean Howe's Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.) Even today, he's assumed to be involved with Marvel Studios when, in reality, all he does is make cameos in the films.

This, though, is the most breathtaking reinvention of them all. From comic book writer to action hero, this tongue-in-cheek concept essentially imports Stan Lee himself into the comic books he used to write. It's a humorous take that I suspect will prove truly popular, and I have to say that it takes real nerve to try something like this. I'm both impressed and amused.

The cover of Stan Lee's comic book memoir! Image: Simon & Schuster
The cover of Stan Lee's comic book memoir! Image: Simon & Schuster

There are some real risks here, though. Stan Lee doesn't have the Midas Touch; not everything he touches turns to gold. He's still writing comics nowadays, but few of his books actually perform well in the modern comic book market. In the same way, loosely basing an action story on his life is hardly a guaranteed blockbuster; it could just as easily be a flop. There isn't even a writer attached to the project yet, so it could yet change utterly.

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In the 1970s, Stan Lee was drawn to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood like a moth to a flame. Now, he's becoming the star of his own action adventure film. It's surely the daydream of every superhero fan; what if I were a hero myself? Whatever your views on Stan Lee, it seems fitting to me that such an important figure finally gets to live that dream!

Are you excited for the Stan Lee series? Let me know in the comments! In the meantime, check out our supercut of all of Stan Lee's cameos!

Source: The Hollywood Reporter