Famed comic book creator Stan Lee created over 300 characters while working at Marvel as a writer and then as editor in chief. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe celebrates its 10th anniversary this week, here are some of his most famous characters both in and out of the filmic universe, including Spider-Man, Black Panther, Hulk, Black Widow and Doctor Strange.
As founder of the X-Men, Charles Xavier/Professor X (seen here portrayed by actor Patrick Stewart in the 2000 movie X-Men) created and runs a school to teach young mutants how to understand and control their powers so they can live among humans without being a threat. Lee was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. to make a superhero who tries to broker peace between mutants and humans.
Billionaire Tony Stark (seen here portrayed by actor Robert Downey Jr. in the 2008 movie Iron Man) might seem like a snarky playboy, but he's also a genius when it comes to technology and science. After suffering a life-threatening heart injury while kidnapped by captors who try to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction, he creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape. He later modifies his new super-suit with weapons and tech from his company Stark Industries. As Iron Man, Stark protects fellow humans from super villains, invading aliens and more. He's one of the founding members of the Avengers.
Clinton Francis "Clint" Barton/Hawkeye (seen here portrayed by actor Jeremy Renner in the MCU's 2012 film The Avengers) began as a reluctant foe to Iron Man, but later teamed up with the Avengers. While Hawkeye doesn't possess superhuman powers, he is an expert marksman with his bow and arrow. He's also highly trained in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat.
The Hulk is the alter ego of the physicist Robert Bruce Banner (shown here portrayed by actor Eric Bana in Ang Lee's non-MCU Hulk). The giant green superhero may have anger management issues, but he's one of the most memorable superheroes Lee created. Lee was heavily influenced by the classic stories of Frankenstein, as well as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hulk/Banner is also one of the founding members of the Avengers.
This was the first superhero group created by Stan Lee (along with Jack Kirby). The Fantastic Four consists of Mister Fantastic/Reed Richards, Invisible Woman/Sue Storm, the Human Torch/Johnny Storm, and the Thing/Ben Grimm. The characters were all departures from typical superheroes in that they dealt with self-doubt, self-sabotage and the kind of flaws that made them even more relatable to fans. The Fantastic Four have had movies in both 2005 and 2015, though neither is part of the MCU.
While Lee didn't invent Norse god Thor, he did decide to transform the mythical god into a superhero who lives on the planet Asgard. Thor (pictured here is actor Chris Hemsworth in the MCU's 2013 movie Thor: The Dark World) fearlessly fights with his trusty hammer Mjolnir and can control lightning. He's also one of the founding members of the Avengers.
Dr. Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom (portrayed by actor Julian McMahon in the 2005 movie Fantastic Four) is the archenemy of the Fantastic Four. He's also fought superheroes Spider-Man, Iron Man and Black Panther, to name a few. This super villain also happens to be a scientific genius who can take technopathic control over machines called Doombots. His impressive armor gives him superhuman strength.
As the first black superhero in mainstream American comic books, T'Challa/Black Panther is king of the fictional African nation Wakanda. Black Panther (portrayed by actor Chadwick Boseman in the 2018 movie Black Panther) is highly trained in hand-to-hand combat and knowledgeable in science and uses advance tech to fight foes. He also has enhanced abilities such as super-human senses, strength, agility and healing powers gained through ancient Wakandan rituals.
Born with superhuman abilities, Max Eisenhardt/Magneto has the ability to generate and control magnetic fields. In the comics, he's levitated everything from asteroids to submarines using his powers. Unlike Professor X's pacifist attitude toward humans, Magneto is more aggressive in his approach to mutants gaining their civil rights. He regards mutants as evolutionarily superior to humans. His character is played by Ian McKellen in the 2006 movie X-Men: The Last Stand and by Michael Fassbender in the 2011 movie X-Men: First Class (both are not a part of the MCU).
Natalia "Natasha" Romanova/Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson in the 2016 movie Captain America: Civil War) was a Russian spy and adversary to Iron Man. She ultimately defected to the United States and joined S.H.I.E.L.D. Later, she became an important member of the Avengers. She's an expert martial artist and tactician and has an impressive talent for psychological manipulation.
Created by both Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Stephen Strange began as a brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon who undergoes a spiritual transformation after a debilitating car accident causes him to search for alternative methods to heal. Training with the Ancient One leads Doctor Strange to not only gain enlightenment but also superhero-level powers through magic. Here he is portrayed by actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2016 movie Doctor Strange.
Former soldier Nick Fury (portrayed by actor Samuel L. Jackson in the 2012 movie The Avengers) was introduced to readers in a World War II combat comic book series, but was later brought into modern day as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. He's an expert in martial arts, weapons, vehicles and demolitions. He lost vision in his left eye in combat, so he covers it with his signature eye patch.
When lawyer Jennifer Walters gets an emergency blood transfusion from her cousin Dr. Bruce Banner, she ends up getting a milder case of his Hulk condition. While Banner struggles with controlling his anger when turning into the Hulk, Walters can keep her emotions in check when she transforms into She-Hulk. In the comics, She-Hulk has been a member of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Defenders and S.H.I.E.L.D. (She has yet to appear onscreen, though!)
Scott Summers/Cyclops was born as a mutant who can emit powerful energy beams from his eyes. Since he can't control the energy he must don special eyewear at all times. He's also a founding member of the X-Men (which are not part of the MCU at all). Here's actor Tye Sheridan playing the character in the 2016 movie "X-Men: Apocalypse."
Matt Murdock (portrayed in the 2015 Netflix show Daredevil by actor Charlie Cox) might be blind after a childhood accident, but that just made his other senses extra keen. Daredevil been dubbed "The Man Without Fear" for good reason. His training in martial arts transformed him into the kind of lawyer-by-day, vigilante-by-night superhero who makes sure justice isn't blind.
Starting as a villain to the X-Men, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and her twin brother Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver left the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and eventually fought side by side with the Avengers. She's a powerful sorceress who can hex her foes, manipulate magic and alter reality. She's played by Elizabeth Olson in the 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron and the more recent Avengers: Infinity War.
Once an ordinary, geeky teenager, Peter Parker accidentally became a superhero after a run-in with a radioactive spider. Created by both Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Spider-Man (played by actor Tom Holland in the 2017 movie Spider-Man: Homecoming) was an unusual superhero in that he was without a mentor as he figured out how to utilize his powers on his own, which wasn't easy when battling villains like Doc Ock or Green Goblin. When he's not fighting evil, he's dealing with the usual problems of adolescence like love, friendship and high school.
In the comics, Ant-Man (portrayed by actor Paul Rudd in the 2015 film Ant-Man) was originally Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas), a genius scientist who invented a superhero suit using subatomic "Pym particles" that allowed whoever wore the outfit to significantly alter his size -- often being able to shrink to the size of an insect. Pym also created a cybernetic helmet that lets him talk with ants and other insects. He serves as a member of the Avengers and can be seen in this summer's Ant-Man & the Wasp.