This is the story of a man who started writing pseudonym strips, in which comics were barely taken into consideration and those superheroes made the alpha and omega of modern culture. Stan Lee, the legendary maker of, among others, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Hulk and Iron Man, died Monday, at the age of 95. His name may not speak to everyone, but it still appears in the credits of all films of superheroes, Marvel, a genre that has dominated the film industry for ten years. And if, 50 years after his most significant feats, the leg of Stan Lee is still cartons, that is no coincidence.
Heroes like us. Stanley Lieber joined the "House of Ideas" in the 1940s when it was only ideas. After the war Captain America, the hero of Timely Comics (the former name of Marvel), without steam. It is DC Comics that rules supreme in the small comic world, a genre that is not well thought out in American literature. The publisher relies on the success of superheroes carved in granite: the imperturbable Batman, the invincible Superman or the Amazon Wonder Woman. All are described as supermen, even gods, placed above ordinary mortals, in a parallel world.
Stan Lee's idea of genius, true to Marvel despite the near bankruptcy, was to reverse the paradigm, to make superheroes more humane. Example with Spider-Man: "Is the familiarity of the character due to the designer Steve Ditko, who defined the costume and the forces, or to the author Stan Lee, who made his student-alias Peter Parker? was by another animal, you would have had another superhero who probably would be chained in. In fact, if Spider-Man was a success, it's first thanks to Peter Parker, says Xavier Fournier, comics writer, author of, among other things, Superhero, the reverse of the suit (Fantask ed.)
Stan Lee brings jokes, humor and social diversity to superheroes
Xavier Fournier, writer specialized in superheroes
The man under the suit. At DC Comics the heroes are male men, very mature and teenagers are only sidekicks & # 39 ;, turbulent companions like Robin, Batman spends his time teaching. "Stan Lee changes the game by creating many young superheroes such as Spider-Man or the first X-Men", says Xavier Fournier. An intelligent but mown student, victim of a family tragedy that haunts him, a prey for doubt and heart problems, Peter Parker is a character to which all young readers can recognize themselves. The X-Men, mutants authorized but rushed by the authorities, speaks to everyone who feels marginalized.
And when heroes are not teenagers, they are still a human being. If it is difficult to identify with Tony Stark, the extravagant billionaire under Iron Man's armor, readers will be affected by the apparent weaknesses (alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder). The same goes for the Fantastic Four, renowned scientists who experience extraordinary adventures but spend most of their time arguing and talking about their relationship problems. Without going so far as to turn into "Mister-all-the-world", Stan brings the man his superheroes closer to the readers and integrates them into familiar patterns. "In fact, Peter Parker is part of the literary tradition of Zola, Hulk is another story of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde," says Xavier Fournier.
Psychologist end. The other major success story of Stan Lee is about bad guys. Following the saying that there is no good story without a good villain, he attaches particular value to the psychology of his opponents. Where Batman and Superman fight gangsters and monsters, "Stan Lee makes the bad guys more human," says Xavier Fournier. This also applies to Sandman who commits crimes to pay for the care of his seriously ill daughter. "Magneto, the villain of X-Men, is undoubtedly one of the most ambivalent." Haunted by the Shoah, his conception of good and evil is ambiguous, like many of Stan Lee's villains, we would not want to see him in his living room. but we can understand his motivations, "says Xavier Fournier.
Characters that are not white or black and that are rooted in the real world: this trademark, Stan Lee, forged her in her experience as an author. Although he is eternally associated with superheroes, he has worked in other fields. "In the 1950s, he no longer believed in the future of superheroes and began to write comics, short comics in everyday situations," Xavier Fournier said, when Marvel's boss told him. a series of superheroes to play DC Comics again, Stan Lee relies on this experience. "Convinced that it would not work, he took a lot of liberties with the codes of the super heroic genre and he bombed this world, humor and social diversity. "
Films that respect Stan Lee's vision. It is this stage that forms the leitmotif of the Marvel films that have been produced since 2008. When the & # 39; House of ideas & # 39; Decides to launch its vast cinematographic universe, it reveals Stan Lee's recipe – which no longer writes since the 1970s: a mix of dynamic action, social anchoring and school humor. "The films fit perfectly with the vision of Stan Lee. Avengers The cardboard of the film is as much about action scenes as about heroes who do not stop bickering. This banter, this permanent banter, is Stan Lee in the text, "says Xavier Fournier.
Superheroes, excellent things
In total, the 20 films from the Marvel film universe have started Iron Man in 2008, $ 17.5 billion worldwide (15.6 billion euros) reported more than any other story in the history of cinema (and this does not take into account the X-Men films, products by Sony). In France, 53.7 million people have entered the dark rooms to see these films. The newest, Avengers: Infinity War (released in May), reported the trillion of two billion dollars (1.8 billion euros), a record for the franchise. The rest is expected in May 2019.
And if the genre remains hugely popular today, it is largely due to the impulse given by "Stan the man" in the 1960s. Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the X-Men are still part of superheroes who most suitable for the big screen. This wealth in the profiles of the characters has contributed to the genre becoming super heroic "polymorphic", says Xavier Fournier. Where Batman is associated with the detective film Superman and fantasy, "you can do everything with the Marvel heroes, remix everything." "If we look good, Captain America: The Winter Soldier it is the three days of the superhero version of Condor. There is even Robert Redford in common! ", Illustrates Xavier Fournier.
More power than ever. The style of Stan Lee must survive his maker, firstly because Marvel has a whole list of films in his boxes throughout the decade. Because the vision of papa superheroes remains contemporary. "In such a divided America, the topics dealt with by Stan Lee are more important than ever, and his main articles, written in the sixties and covering the issue of racism, may have been written yesterday," said Xavier Fournier.
Final proof so far: the commercial and social phenomenon Black PantherT & # 39; Challa, one of the few black superheroes (co-created by … Stan Lee), immediately became a totem for the black community around the world. As far as Stan Lee is concerned, he has recorded several cameo's in advance, these humorous short appearances in the Marvel films he was used to, so he should be with his creations for a while.