14 of Stan Lee’s Most Popular Marvel Creations

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It’s a moment many of us saw coming. And yet, nothing could quite prepare us the tragic death of the man who helped make Marvel what it is today: Stan Lee.

Nevertheless, 95 years is an incredible run, and in that time, Lee helped create some of the most iconic and memorable superheroes of all time. So many, in fact, that to try and list them all would be a fool’s errand. However, in honor of his legacy, we’ve compiled a list of 18 of Stan Lee’s most popular Marvel creations:

  1. The Fantastic Four

    Debut:Fantastic Four #1 (1961)

    Co-creator: Jack Kirby

    Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic, Sue Storm/Invisible Woman, Johnny Storm/Human Torch and Ben Grimm/The Thing aren’t called Marvel’s first family for nothing. The Fantastic Four was the very first superhero team created by Lee and his legendary partner Jack Kirby, and they effectively launched the Marvel Universe as we know it. An while the Fantastic Four is arguably one of the most popular superhero teams of all time, the quartet’s main antagonist, Doctor Doom (debut: Fantastic Four #5), is an equally iconic villain. In fact, it’s hard to believe it took a whole five issues of The Fantastic Four for Victor Von Doom to take his place as the most prevalent thorn in the FF’s side.

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  2. The Hulk

    Debut: The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962)

    Co-creator: Jack Kirby

    Inspired by Frankenstein’s monster and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the Incredible Hulk is easily one of Marvel’s most popular heroes. Of course, that popularity hasn’t always been reflected in the sales charts (after all, The Incredible Hulk was initially canceled after just six issues), but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t recognize the Green Goliath.

  3. Spider-Man

    Debut: Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)

    Co-creators: Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby (concept art)

    If Batman is the face of DC Comics, you’d better believe Peter Parker/Spider-Man is the face of Marvel. Shortly after his creation, he became one of Marvel’s best-selling characters, and it didn’t take long for him to become a cultural icon.

  4. Thor

    Debut: Journey into Mystery #83 (1962)

    Co-creators: Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby

    Based on the Norse deity of the same name, Thor was created by Lee and company in response to the Hulk, with the consensus being that the only way to make someone more powerful than the Green Goliath was to make them a god. Talk about one-upping yourself!

  5. Iron Man

    Debut: Tales of Suspense #39 (1963)

    Co-creators: Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Jack Kirby

    Tony Stark/Iron Man, by all accounts, should not have worked when he debuted in 1963. This was a time when anti-war and anti-capitalist sentiments were at an all-time high, and Stark was a billionaire who amassed his fortune from selling weapons. However, in Lee’s own words, “I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him....And he became very popular.”

  6. Ant-Man

    Debut: Tales to Astonish #35 (1962)

    Co-creators: Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby

    The Ant-Man mantle has been held by several men in the Marvel Universe, but the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, was yet another product of Lee in the early 1960s. True, the character has suffered a number of identity crises over the years, but without Hank Pym (and of course Stan Lee), there would be no Ant-Man.

  7. The Wasp

    Debut: Tales to Astonish #44 (1963)

    Co-creators: Ernie Hart, Jack Kirby

    Not long after the introduction of Hank Pym/Ant-Man, readers were introduced to his love interest, Janet van Dyne, aka The Wasp. Like Hank, she was a founding member of the Avengers, and she’s even the one who coined the team’s name.

  8. Doctor Strange

    Debut: Strange Tales #110 (1963)

    Co-creator: Steve Ditko

    When it was time to introduce some more mystical elements to the House of Ideas, Lee and Ditko created the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. Both Lee and Ditko have confirmed that the character was originally the latter’s idea, but it’s because of both men that he exists today.

  9. The X-Men

    Debut: X-Men #1 (1963)

    Co-creator: Jack Kirby

    Far and away one of Marvel’s most famous intellectual properties, the X-Men initially consisted of Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl, with Professor Charles Xavier serving as the team’s leader and Magneto leading the opposition. It’s because of the X-Men and the larger mutant community that Marvel was able to tell some of the most socially relevant stories to ever be published in superhero comics.

  10. The Avengers

    Debut: The Avengers #1 (1963)

    Co-creator: Jack Kirby

    We’ve already mentioned Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man and The Wasp. However, Lee and Kirby took these already popular heroes to new heights by bringing them together as a team: the Avengers. Admittedly, they weren’t quite as popular among readers as their DC Comics counterpart the Justice League until the advent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the Avengers opened up a whole new world of storytelling for the House of Ideas in the Silver Age.

  11. Daredevil

    Debut: Daredevil #1 (1964)

    Co-creator: Bill Everett

    The Man without Fear broke new ground for Marvel as both a blind man and a lawyer – two things that, at the time, certainly didn’t scream “superhero.” Nevertheless, the character proved to be wildly popular, and he’s currently the tent pole of the Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  12. Black Panther

    Debut: Fantastic Four #52 (1966)

    Co-creator: Jack Kirby

    Although he predates the Black Panther party by several months, T’Challa/Black Panther was certainly a trailblazer for African American superheroes. In fact, he was the very first black superhero to appear in mainstream American comics, and his recent big-screen solo debut has made him more popular than ever before.

  13. Silver Surfer

    Debut: Fantastic Four #48 (1966)

    Co-creator: Jack Kirby

    Norrin Radd/Silver Surfer is possibly Marvel’s most popular cosmic hero, and certainly one of the most visually appealing. Plus, as an honorable mention, without Silver Surfer, we wouldn’t have Galactus.

  14. The Inhumans

    Debut: Fantastic Four #45 (1965)

    Co-creator: Jack Kirby

    The Inhumans as a concept originated in the pages of Fantastic Four, and after featuring in a number of backup stories, they finally got their own ongoing series in 1970. Since then, they’ve gone on to be positioned as direct rivals to the X-Men, though many would argue that the mutants are the superior property.