If you’re a fan of Marvel superhero movies (or the comic books that inspired them), chances are your favorite characters were dreamed up by Stan Lee. The prolific writer, editor, and publisher created some Marvel’s most well known superheroes, including The Black Panther and Spider-Man. He died today at a hospital in Los Angeles, sources told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 95 years old.
Writing had been a part of Lee’s life from a young age. In a 2014 interview, he told Men’s Journal that one of his first jobs as a teenager was writing advertising copy for a hospital.
“I never understood if my purpose was to make people sick,” he joked, “so they’d go to the hospital.”
His career at Marvel began in 1939, and he’s credited with creating or co-creating a huge swath of the Marvel universe: He helped develop the X-Men, Ant Man, Thor, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and more. His work helped put Marvel on the map in the comic book world and later become the media giant it is today. In the early days, his superheroes stood out for their relatable personalities—a stark contrast from the airbrushed characters in rival DC comics.
His real name was Stanley Martin Leiber, but when he got his first writing assignment at Marvel (a short story called “The Traitor’s Revenge!”), he used the pen name Stan Lee, and it stuck ever since. He continued writing and working well into his later years, but his career was rocky at times: There were credit disputes between him and his collaborators at Marvel, and later in life he sued the person handling his business affairs for fraud.
Through it all, though, Lee remained committed to his work and the heroes he created. When we spoke with him in 2014, he had no intentions of slowing down.
“I’m happiest when I’m working,” he said. “You know how the cowboys die with their boots on? I guess I’m going to die at the keyboard of a computer.”