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Happy 90th Birthday, Stan Lee!

Happy 90th Birthday, Stan Lee!

By DAVID WEINER

December 28, 2012

Spider-Man. Hulk. Iron Man. Thor. X-Men. Fantastic Four. The Avengers! The man who created or co-created all these legendary Marvel Comics superheroes – and pretty much helped to shape the comic books we love today -- turns 90 years young today. Happy Birthday, Stan Lee!

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Born Stanley Lieber on December 28, 1922 and raised in the Bronx, NY, Lee started out as a comics proofreader before he and creative partner Jack Kirby started to conjure up epic superheroes for Timely Comics in New York, which would evolve into Marvel Comics by the 1960s.

Tasked with creating a team of superheroes in the late '50s to compete with the likes of DC Comics' Justice League of America (comprised of Batman, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and more), Lee first envisioned The Fantastic Four – a group of everyday people who were vaulted into the superhero arena with a little help from a massive dose of Gamma Rays, but remained a lovingly dysfunctional family.

The Fantastic Four paved the way for a new kind of wisecracking hero, and soon Lee's unique brand of flawed superhero took off, introducing such crimefighters as Daredevil, The Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange and the popular aforementioned superheroes – selling millions and millions of comics in the process to "True Believers."

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Of course, superheroes beyond Batman and Superman really weren't guaranteed hits on the big screen until Bryan Singer took on Lee's X-Men in 2000, paving the way for a renaissance of superhero big-screen blockbusters. Stan can be seen in most Marvel adaptations, especially the Spider-Man movies, making fun cameos.

'Nuff said. To use Lee's catchphrase that he would sign off with on every Bullpen Bulletins column in Marvel Comics, "Excelsior!"

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