Add Stan "The Man" Lee to those people who think Disney’s blockbuster $4 billion purchase of Marvel is a stroke of genius.
In some of his first comments on the historic deal, the living-legend Lee, who along with artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko created most of the characters and settings that still fuel the media powerhouse that is Marvel to this day, told Newsarama Tuesday the merger is a win-win for both sides.
“I think it's a terrific deal which will be extremely beneficial to both companies. The synergy between them is perfect,” said Lee, who remains Marvel’s Chairman Emeritus but hasn’t been involved in day-to-day operations for a number of years.
Lee says the strengths of each company fit perfectly with the other’s needs.
“Nobody can produce and market franchises better than Disney, and nobody has the extensive library of characters that would make great franchises that Marvel has,” Lee said.
Lee is quite familiar with the Disney way of doing business. His new company, POW! Entertainment, has a first-look deal with the company, and at the San Diego Comic-Con in July, he unveiled his first Disney project, the digital motion comic “Time Jumper.”
In fact, Lee himself always envisioned Marvel as becoming the next Disney. In his 2002 autobiography, “Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee”, he wrote about how, during Marvel’s boom years in the mid-60s, he tried to convince the company’s upper management to invest in merchandising and other ventures, to take advantage of its stable of popular characters. Alas, his bosses did not share his grand designs.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, Lee worked tirelessly to turn Marvel’s heroes into multimedia superstars — especially in Hollywood — with limited success. It would be many years before the movie industry realized the box-office potential of superheroes.
No one is more closely linked with Marvel Comics than Stan Lee. As writer and editor in the early 1960s, Lee co-created enduring characters such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man, and Daredevil. Unlike most of the comic book heroes of the day, Marvel’s superheroes were complex, flawed ... human. It transformed the industry, made comics okay for grownups to read, and made Marvel a household name.
Along the way, Lee made a name for himself as the comics industry’s version of P.T. Barnum, an unabashed promoter who was a regular on the college lecture circuit. For decades, his name was even on the masthead of every comic the company published.
In 2005, his six-decade long relationship with the company hit a major obstacle.
Lee sued Marvel, claiming he was owed profits from the Marvel films that had started to take Hollywood by storm. The suit was eventually settled with Lee reportedly getting a settlement of more than $10 million.
With that business taken care of, and his old company and his new firm under the same corporate roof, Lee, who has appeared in nearly every Marvel movie, thinks it could mean more work for him.
“Think of the fun I'll have since I'm positioned right smack in the middle of them — and maybe some extra cameos, too!"