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The Marvel Method


How world events affected Marvel
Stan Lee Writer
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I'm not sure that we planned it this way, but we were very much affected at Marvel by what was going on in the world around us. From the very beginning when… when we were in World War II and Hitler was the one we were… he was our Bin Laden at that time. So we had a lot of stories about fighting the Nazis. When communism was the big bugaboo here in America almost all our villains were communists, and no matter what the problem was in society at the time, it sort of would show itself in our books. We… I think we couldn't help it. I'm rather surprised that the other comic book companies didn't do the same thing, but… I remember I did a… Oh, I didn't mention I had done a character called The Mighty Thor, God of Thunder. I enjoyed him. And I had a scene where he comes down to Earth and he's talking to a bunch of college kids. And in those days the kids were all dropping out. And he gave them a little lecture… I don't remember the exact words, I… I really was very proud of writing this… he… where he said: ‘There's nothing wrong with rebelling. There's nothing wrong with wanting to change things, but you can't do it by dropping out. You're giving up. If you really want to change things and make them better you've got to plunge in. You've got to be a part of the process’. Only I wrote it better than I'm saying it now 'cause… And it… I… a lot of the college kids would quote that to me too during lectures. Funny thing about Thor. I'm the least scientific guy in the world. I had The Hulk created by a… a gamma bomb. I don't know what a gamma bomb… I don't know what gamma rays are, but it sounded good. The… The Fantastic Four were created 'cause the cosmic rays hit them in the sky and... I don't know what a cosmic ray is but it sounded good. And on and on. Well, I always used to wonder how Superman could fly through the air with no visible means of propulsion. It's not that he took a great leap. It's not that he had rockets at the bottom of his feet. I mean, if you remember the scenes of him flying he's always like this, and he's just flying. So I wanted to have The Mighty Thor, God of Thunder, be able to fly, but being of a great scientific bent I thought, I'm going to give him a logical way to fly. So he has this big hammer as a weapon, so I put a thong on it which is attached to his wrist, so when he wants to fly he swings the hammer very fast, like a propeller, then he lets it go. The hammer goes flying off into the sky, but since it's attached to his wrist he goes after it. So you see, that's a perfectly scientific explanation. And obviously I know almost nothing about science, but if you can at least give the semblance of a reason for the… for the public, you know, to have fun with, I… I just can't see having no explanation at all and asking a reader to accept it. And yet people do, as the case with Spider… with Superman, which I always got a kick out of, and so many people also have mentioned this. There is Clark Kent wearing his glasses, and at some point he takes them off and Lois Lane says: ‘Superman, where did Clark Kent go?’ I mean, it's ridiculous, these glasses.

The creative genius of American writer, Stan Lee (1922-2018) brought us 'Spider Man', 'X-Men' and 'The Hulk'. They climbed tall buildings and fought the bad guys, but had normal worries too, about love, acceptance and family. Readers loved them and Marvel Comics, with Lee at the helm, went on to become hugely successful. In 2010 the Stan Lee Foundation was founded to focus on literacy, education and the arts. On January 4, 2011 Lee received the 2428th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Listeners: Leo Bear

Leo Bear is a Hollywood-based features writer. Her background is in news and features writing. Leo spent five years on the entertainment newsdesk at BBC Worldwide before going freelance and moving out to Los Angeles. She specialises in writing lifestyle features, celebrity interviews, health stories and travel features for publications including Eve Magazine, OK! Magazine, Total Film, TV Hits and Conde Nast Gourmet Travel Guide.

Tags: Marvel Comics, World War II, Adolf Hitler, Thor, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, Superman, Lois Lane, Clark Kent

Duration: 3 minutes, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2006

Date story went live: 24 January 2008