ByIsaac + Scott, writer at
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Isaac + Scott

You might wonder why we would ever say anything bad about Stan Lee. Everyone loves Stan Lee right? He’s like the wonderfully kooky uncle you always wished you had. The one who came over to your house once every six months and gave you an action figure and a stack of old comics, then regaled you with tales of pulpy adventure featuring larger than life characters fighting battles of cosmic importance. He would always leave his tale at a cliffhanger, and you would eagerly be awaiting his next visit. We worshiped Lee for having a hand in creating such iconic characters like Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk and Thor. That’s the image that Stan Lee has made a living off of for the past forty years. That'd be great and all, and we’re not here to deny the significant contributions Stan Lee has made to comics in the past, but just stop and think for a minute.

Can you remember the last worthwhile thing that Stan Lee made? And no the obligatory Marvel movie cameos don’t count. Yet people still call him Stan "The Man" Lee, even though his best work was back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and all of it was stuff he worked on with Jack Kirby. Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men, The Silver Surfer, and Iron Man were all created with Jack Kirby. After that golden period, what else has Stan Lee done? We wish we could say nothing and just remember him for all the wonderful characters he made way back when, but unfortunately Stan Lee always manages to keep himself busy. You could probably write an entire book on all of the failed projects that Stan Lee has produced or had his name attached to. But for now check out the 10 absolute worst things that Stan Lee has ever created, produced, or even just decided to have his name attached to in the past couple decades.

Stan Lee’s Boy Band: The Backstreet Project

Here we have a wonderful example of how Jack Kirby was totally keeping Lee afloat because this is what happens when Stan Lee partners with other folks dependent on others for their material. Lee hooked up with Nick Carter, from The Backstreet Boys to produce a comic that can only be described as terrible. This is what comes from putting two people together that depend on their inflated reputation, hordes of undeserved fans, and other more talented people to make money. The comic is an abortion of writing filled with lazy plot holes, inconsistencies, and godawful character design. If you see a spaceship crash and then find a hot alien woman who gives you mystical amulets and is subsequently kidnapped by a giant robot that also wrecks your tour bus, we’re going to go out on a limb and say your biggest concern is not phoning ahead because you’re going to be late for the next concert.

Oh, and we know this isn’t the deepest comic around, but do you really have to name your antagonist Sinissta, The Death Queen? If you want that kind of camp, go pick up an anthology of golden age sci-fi comics. At least with a Planet Comics anthology on your bookshelf, you can bask in the goofy pre-comics code goodness while pretending to be pseudo intellectual about your nerd culture. It’s like watching The Great Train Robbery rather than paying Adam Sandler to kick you in the nuts, call it a movie, and take your money. Okay. Y’know what? With that image, we’re done with this comic. We’re not going to list everything wrong with this comic. We’d be here all day. Instead, we'll just leave you with this:

Yeah. There’s a damn good reason that most people probably haven’t heard of this, despite having a big name (at the time) pop star and the big daddy of comics attached to the project. Hell, it doesn’t even get its own Wikipedia page, just an entry in Stan Lee’s failed company.

Stan Lee Goes To Japan: Ultimo

Not having enough fun dropping turds on our side of the ocean, Stan “The Man” Lee went to Japan to collaborate with Hiroyuki Takei, the manga artist behind Shaman King. Don’t get me wrong, Shaman King is pretty awesome. It just goes to show you what Stan “The Man” Lee can do when he gets full creative control. You’d think Lee would know better than to try inserting himself into his own damn comic. There are so few ways to get it right. Excel Saga manages by playing it for laughs as hard as it can, and having the main character attempt to murder her creator is hilarious. But not Stan Lee, who literally commits seppuku in the opening color spread.

The story revolves around a Stan Lee’s self-insertion character building two robots. Because Stan Lee is such an awesome engineer from the future, he decides to go to the past with his super robots who are the personification of pure good and pure evil and have them fight again and again to determine which is stronger. Yup. Stan Lee goes back to feudal Japan with robots from the future.

But having just one super good robot and one super evil robot just isn't enough. So manga Stan Lee keeps making robots based on various sins and virtues, and he just keeps on making more and more of them so they can all fight in gigantic apocalyptic showdown that basically destroys the world. These robots keep going through different time periods and fighting again and again and the whole thing just doesn’t make much sense as to why Stan Lee needs to keep sending all of these robots back in time.

That would be enough to warrant a place on this list but throughout the series more and more awkward moments just keep stacking up, like when the main protagonist, Yamanto, must make his vow with the super good robot so he can attain super powers. Of course he has to do it on the most uncomfortably awkward way possible. The artwork speaks for itself.

The horrible pedo-friendly imagery is fantastic, but it only gets better from there. After he sticks his hand inside the good robot to make his vow, the main character gets a rush of visions from both the past and the future. At the end of his vision of the future, the grand villain is none other than a cyber-robot-dragon Stan Lee.

The funniest thing about Ultimo is that usually otaku nerds are so hungry for manga from Japan they’ll translate just about anything they can get their hands on. But after the first 15 chapters, you just can’t find Ultimo anywhere, despite the series going on for 12 full volume. The same otaku who will scanlate just about any sub-par crappy manga didn’t bother to do anything with Ultimo. It takes a magical kind of crappy to achieve that kind of utter indifference from pirates who will steal just about anything they can get their hands on.

Stan Lee’s Reality TV: Who Wants To Be A Superhero?

This abomination has kinda been forgotten from pop culture memory, but we’re here to change that. Stan Lee was the host and creator of this wonderful reality series on the Sci-Fi channel back when it was still Sci-Fi and not Syfy. The series was reality television about people who wanted to be superheroes. Of course, that doesn’t make sense because no one had any real powers. God knows we’d totally watch a reality show with people throwing themselves in toxic waste in an attempt to gain superpowers, but instead we got a series about people who would dress up as the characters they created to compete for the "honor" of having their character made into a comic and get their own Syfy original movie. Before we continue, let’s pause a moment and reflect on the fact that the Syfy channel are the people responsible for Sharknado, Mega Python vs. Gatorid, and Sharktopus, so getting your own movie there might not be what most people would consider an honor.

The people who aren’t real superheroes compete while dressed in cosplay of their own characters trying to prove that they’re superheroes through poorly staged challenges while in costume. The most embarrassing thing out of everything though was that the winner of the first season only got one issue of his character’s comic published.

To add insult to injury, the poor guy never even got his own original movie as promised. Instead he just had to settle for having a bit part in Mega Snake. This is easily the saddest part of the entire ordeal. The poor sucker thinks he’s finally gotten into the limelight, but after sacrificing any previously held pretensions of dignity, his only reward was about a minute of screen time in a made-for-tv movie where he still doesn’t have any super powers. He’s just giving a lecture to kids on how to avoid electrical outlets.

Stan Lee’s Musical Sensation: Night Cat

This would be Stan Lee’s first attempt at creating a singer turned superhero, and it went just as poorly as expected. Our heroine is based on Jacqueline Tavarez, a singer and actress who landed a bit part in Tromeo and Juliet. The entire comic is a weird mess of real world and comic world crossovers that would be cool if it didn’t read like some sort of painful Mary Sue fanfiction. See if you can follow along. Jacqueline Tavarez wanted to be a singer, but her daddy didn’t want her to do it. She decides to do it in secret, and she somehow manages to pull it off. Then she finds out that people in the music industry are using cocaine - SHOCK! She is kidnapped and injected with some sort of new drug with cat-blood in it - because kidnapping a famous singer to be your test subject makes total sense - and she gains superpowers.

It’s kind of like that Luc Besson movie, Lucy, only instead of being a transfer student gaining super psychic powers in a French version of Akira, she just goes back to highly public singing career, and she even has Stan Lee turn her into a comic book hero (yes, in the actual comic). She used her funds from her singing career and comic book sales to buy superhero gadgets because celebrities don’t have any kind of problem with privacy, and they certainly wouldn’t be noticed by paparazzi when they try to fight crime. Oh, and she fights ninjas onstage. I just thought I’d throw that out there. Back in the real world, Marvel even had her record an album to release with the comic, because she was both a singer and a superhero.

Predictably, both the comic and the album failed miserably, and Ms. Tavarez hasn’t done much since except dress up as Night Cat for conventions. Maybe Stan Lee’s biggest mistake was in not realizing that having a singer in comic where by default there is no audio was it’s biggest failing. Maybe in some ways he was ahead of his times with something that could have theoretically paved the way for Hannah Montana. Of course, judging by his success with the Backstreet Boys a few years later, we doubt it. Maybe someone smarter than Stan “The Man” Lee would have made it work. Maybe if Hannah Montana was made into a comic by Jack Kirby where she gets the power cosmic and has to fight against Darkseid with the help of the New Gods, maybe then it would have worked. Too bad. That would have been pretty awesome.

Stan Lee’s Extreme Sports: The Condor

We're not going to take a whole lot of time on this one. Here we have an animated film that has just about everything and the kitchen sink thrown in. Hispanic skateboarder, Tony Valdez, runs into trouble when his parents are murdered by zombie skateboarders who also leave him critically injured and unable to ever skate again. Thankfully his parents were scientists who were working on nano-technology that not only help him walk, but give him super powers. So using his skateboard, he becomes The Condor, the lamest superhero ever who has no giant vulture related powers whatsoever. And then he goes off to fight against skateboarding zombies and cyborgs. Don’t believe me? Just check this out.

And yeah, we know we know. There are other superheroes with names that don’t really synch with their power sets. Batman doesn’t really have any bat themed super powers either, but holy hell does he own the whole bat motif thing by branding literally everything with bats. Batmobile, batarangs, Batwing, Batcave, and Batcomputer. Everything is bats. Everything. The Condor fights with a skateboard. His costume has a bird thing going, so maybe if he had talons or powered up by eating fresh roadkill like an actual vulture, it would make more sense, but mostly he just hits stuff with a skateboard.

Stan Lee Goes Syfy: The Harpies

Honestly, all you really need to do to make fun of this movie is show a clip. There is nothing we can say about this film that doesn't become painfully apparent after watching just a little of it. Everyone expects Syfy original movies to be bad, but this this is possibly the worst thing since Lake Placid 2. The acting is awful, the special effects look like baby’s first green screen, and the whole thing was shot in Bulgaria. But hey, at least we don’t have to worry about the plot, because there wasn’t really there. And it’s not like you can’t do good work on a shoestring budget. Troll Hunter, and Rec both proved you can still manage to make monsters without a ton of cash. If you're really a glutton for punishment, check out the attempted plot summary on the Wikipedia page.

Stan Lee Does Direct to DVD: Light Speed

Stan Lee’s failure with movies really began in this low budget epic. Lightspeed features a generic plot full of holes centered around a man who can run at super speed. In other words, we’re looking at a cheap knockoff of The Flash, or if you’re a Marvel fan, Quicksilver. But this guy is different. He’s a former special ops agent. Awesome, right? We finally have someone who might know how to put their powers to good use rather than bumbling around like an amateur. I mean, holy hell. Look what The Punisher accomplishes in all of his accumulated comics and movies, and Frank Castle doesn’t even have super powers. Think of the body count he could rack up with superhuman speed. Hell, that sounds like an awesome movie. It’s like a one-man version of Bloodshot’s H.A.R.D. Corps without the insanity and brain damage caused by experimental shadow government surgery. Well, you should all stop salivating over the most brutally badass movie ever because apparently gaining super powers makes you lose all memory of tactical combat, marksmanship, or even just common sense.

Okay, that was pretty terrible, but I’m sure some of you might be wondering how this could be worse. Let’s start with the fact that he finds his costume at a sporting goods store and end with the fact that he actually runs at light speed. First of all, why does he even need a costume? He’s special ops, right? Isn’t running around in a blue suit kinda counter to all the training he’s received? And more importantly, yes, comics have a history of ignoring physics, but the fact that you actually can’t move at the speed of light has created one biggest tropes in science fiction. If every major space opera, including Star Wars and Star Trek, has been forced to come up with a plot device to explain how ships can move faster than the speed of light, you’d think the writers of this mess might just sit up and take notice.

But then again maybe we’re thinking about this too hard. Maybe the entire purpose of this is to confuse mid-western grandmothers just like the Asylum’s mockbusters. They might know their grandson loves that speedy red fella on tv. Little Timmy said he loves the guy who runs really fast and this guy looks like he runs really fast, so if she picks this up at the bargain bin at Target or Walmart thinking she got him a special surprise, she’ll be the best Grandma in the world. But the only surprise poor Timmy can look forward to is sudden disappointment when he opens Light Speed and not the first season of The Flash.

Stan Lee does Adult Entertainment: Stripperella

In a stroke of true genius, Stan Lee joined forces with Pamela Anderson to bring the world Stripperalla, the story of a stripper superhero to life. By day she’s a stripper, but by night she becomes a secret agent superhero who fights crime just because that’s what superheroes do. That’s pretty much all there is to Stripperella. She’s hot, and she fights crime. Most of Stan Lee’s later creative process never seems to go no further then X character dresses up, has Y powers, and fights crime. Even worse, the entire series was canceled because apparently Stan Lee might just have stolen the entire idea while getting a lap dance. Ex-stripper Janet Clover, aka "Jazz", aka "Stripperella," filed a lawsuit in the Daytona Beach, Florida circuit court against Viacom, Stan Lee, and Pamela Anderson, claiming she is Stripperella's true creator and Stan Lee stole her idea when she discussed it during a lap dance.

Stan Lee does Adult Entertainment: Stripperella

In a stroke of true genius, Stan Lee joined forces with Pamela Anderson to bring the world Stripperalla, the story of a stripper superhero to life. By day she’s a stripper, but by night she becomes a secret agent superhero who fights crime just because that’s what superheroes do. That’s pretty much all there is to Stripperella. She’s hot, and she fights crime. Most of Stan Lee’s later creative process never seems to go no further then X character dresses up, has Y powers, and fights crime. Even worse, the entire series was canceled because apparently Stan Lee might just have stolen the entire idea while getting a lap dance. Ex-stripper Janet Clover, aka "Jazz", aka "Stripperella," filed a lawsuit in the Daytona Beach, Florida circuit court against Viacom, Stan Lee, and Pamela Anderson, claiming she is Stripperella's true creator and Stan Lee stole her idea when she discussed it during a lap dance.

Clover filed the original suit herself without an attorney as she said she couldn't afford the $6,000 lawyer fee, and the suit was filed in the name of the non-existent "Office of the Professional Nurse Advocate - Moral and Ethical Division" because she said it sounded more impressive than if it were filed by a semi-retired stripper. The lawsuit attracted the attention of local media, and the story was picked up by the Associated Press and national media, including People and Entertainment Weekly. After that her case was picked up pretty quickly by some lawyers with actual cred. Clover dropped her case and refiled with Stan Lee as her primary target.

That didn’t stop Stan the Man Lee from trying to resurrect Striperella as a web comic. Although that went over just as well as the TV series, and like most things Stan Lee has had his hands on in the past few years, it has completely disappeared from the pop culture consciousness. We’ve got a couple more, but let me just take this time to pause the article to ask why this man still has cultural capital? No. Seriously? Not only did he most likely plagiarize this series, but he stole the idea from someone he paid to grind on his crotch. That is pretty much the definition of a dick move.

Stan Lee Gets Political: Governator

Stan Lee collaborated with Arnold Schwarzenegger as they tried to turn the lame moniker he received during his political tenure in California into a cartoon series and maybe a movie. In the alternate universe they created, Arnold leaves his political career to become a superhero who rides a motorcycle and fights robots. They’re not screwing around either. If they’re gonna exploit Arnold’s fame, then Stan the Man Lee was going to go all the way. Stan Lee said,

"We’re using his kids. We’re using the fact that he used to be governor. Only after he leaves the governor’s office, Arnold decides to become a crime fighter and builds a secret high-tech crime-fighting center under his house in Brentwood." -Stan Lee

As ridiculous and lame as this sounds, it gets stupider. Who better to challenge the Governator then the evil organization of Gangsters, Imposters, Racketeers, Liars & Irredeemable, Ex-cons, or G.I.R.L.I.E. Men. Yeah, it’s supposed to kind of tongue-in-cheek, but that’s just sad. Lee can’t even come up with a decent enemy for the man who has been in more action movies than we can count. Schwarzenegger hired the most famous name in comics and got G.I.R.L.I.E Men. Thankfully, Arnold’s little sex scandal put an end that, given that his family friendly image has been completely tarnished, I guess Stan Lee didn’t want to include his illegitimate son in the list of child helpers. The comic was officially put on hold back, meaning Schwarzenegger won’t just go back to murdering people who aren’t white by the thousands like he did in the ‘80s. All we can say is we’re happy that Stan Lee didn’t collaborate with Donald Trump instead.

Stan Lee Builds a Sports Team: The NHL Guardians

Hopefully you’ve been enjoying our list of embarrassing Stan Lee failures. Well we’ve saved the absolute best for last. A debacle so large it couldn’t be contained to just one character. No Stan Lee managed to embarrass the entire NHL hockey organization. You see, the NHL has never quite been as popular as it’s NBA or NFL counterparts. Hell, we’re willing to bet college football gets more coverage than hockey. So in a desperate move to try to appeal to all those nerdy kids who loved their damn superhero movies, Stan Lee collaborated with the NHL to form The Guardian Project, where he created thirty, yes thirty superheroes, one to represent each NHL team.

Yes, that’s right. Superheroes based on hockey teams. This is an awful idea just by itself, but what makes it really stand out is the utter laziness in the character designs. For example the superhero for the Jersey Devils is The Devil modeled, of course, after the horse/goat abomination that is the Jersey Devil myth. Then there is the Tornado Maple Leafs’ The Maple Leaf, a weird hockey themed Swamp Thing. Stan Lee couldn’t constrain himself to just ripping off Jack Kirby anymore. He had to take Alan Moore’s The Saga of Swamp Thing and slap a hockey jersey on it. And of course, possibly the best of the batch is The Oiler, a walking super powered oil refinery. Sure, they say he’s environmentally conscious, but he carries equipment around to draw oil up through the earth’s crust into his portable refinery. After he leaves, what exactly stops the oil from leaking all over the goddamn place? And let's not forget that he’s powered by oil, the fossil fuel we’ve been using for the past century or so to wreak havoc on the environment.

Just what the hell! That sounds like a Captain Planet villain that would fit right in with Looten Plunder or Doctor Blight. Then there’s The Penguin, not only saddled with the being a superhero based on a hockey team, but also being a superhero based on one of the most pitiful animals imaginable. Even as a Batman villain, Penguin is mostly something people point at and laugh. And look at his character design. Look at it. Look hard. Tell us that’s not a crappy fighting game reskin of Cyclops. Congratulations, Lee. You’ve managed to take two awesome characters and blend them together to make a crappy off-brand sports mascot. Good job.

But, as much as we hate to say this, even the NFL did a better job with their NFL Rush Zone fantasy cartoon. Yeah, it was painfully commercial, but it still had some kind of central creation myth and a greater world. Sure, the world was a cheap attempt to push football to nerds, but The Guardian Project doesn’t even give us that much. All we get is a bunch of derivative, unconnected superheroes fighting a bland villain. Even the sports announcer looked ashamed to be a part of this. The best part was how quickly the NHL swept this disaster under the rug. Not even a year after they were introduced, The Guardians were dropped with next to no fanfare even after NBCUniversal signed a multimillion dollar deal to utilize the Guardians across various media platforms. That was swiftly abandoned and in the wake of Stan Lee’s catastrophe. In fact, the resulting aftermath was so devastating that OMG, the British tech firm responsible for a great deal of the motion capture animation used to bring the Guardians to life, lost millions on the venture. Say what you will about George Lucas and the prequels, but at least he never lost money on those.

In Conclusion

Stan Lee has had an incredible impact on comics; he has had a hand in creating some of the most iconic and beloved characters to ever grace the medium. We all have that image of Stan Lee being the uncle we wish we had. We want to love him, we really do. The thing is, he's making it really hard. There's only so many times you'll accept that wonderful uncle you loved as a kid showing up on your front yard smelling of booze and strippers after he had a good day at the horse tracks. We really want to remember him as the dignified member of the family he was. We want to keep remembering him like this:

We want this.
We want this.

Not this.
Not this.

We want the wholesome Stan Lee, not the lazy, sleazy dirtbag who steals ideas while getting lap dances. It’s obvious that he isn’t even really trying very hard. Stan Lee creations are more like Mad Libs at this point. It’s all the same thing recycled only with the names and powers swapped out and what animal or mad science theme is used to give said power. Better writers have taken the torch and kicking things up a notch by adding literary symbolism and psychological pathos to go along with their heros.

So why can’t Stan Lee just ride off into the sunset to enjoy his obscene mountain of cash? We nerds and the general public at large enjoy his cameos in all the various Marvel movies. Why can’t he just be happy with those. So Stan Lee, please just stop making comics, stop writing bad stories, stop pitching awful TV shows ideas and movies while we can still pretend to remember you for your better contributions. God knows if George Lucas had produced as many duds between the original and prequel trilogies as Stan Lee has, we might have been spared from Episode I: The Phantom Menace. So maybe if we geeks bitch enough, Stan Lee can just stick with doing those cameos and we can continue to remember him fondly as the kooky uncle we wish we had.


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