If we have to die, then it is best to do it when – even though you have reached a very great age – the world is dancing at your own pace. Stan Lee died in the manner of Charlemagne. The Marvel Cinematographic Universe now exerts an influence on popular culture to compare with the domination of the Holy Roman Empire in Europe in the 9th century. Charlemagne died at age 72. Stan Lee was able to reach 95. Thus, in a sense, the emperor of comics died more successfully than the Frankish giant.
The supreme triumph took some time. Living as a Marvel disciple in his golden years – from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s – was like being part of a subculture that had lost control and leaked into the mainstream. The sense of association with worship was more pronounced if you lived on this side of the Atlantic. Marvel has made sporadic efforts to republish in the UK. (In 1976, he even released an initially ill-conceived title called Captain Great BritainSome versions have been reprinted in black and white. Some stories were cut into little bites to accommodate those raised on the three pagers in Tiger and the Beano. But the real juice was found in the hard-to-find American originals.
Writing at a time when all popular culture of all ages flows in a steady stream of endless channels, it is difficult to communicate how precious these comics looked. They seemed erratic and inexplicable as if some mystical cabal controlled their distribution. A stubborn rumor argues that American comic books were sent as ballast on ocean ships. All we knew was that every now and then, without warning, a pile would appear in the darker corners of the newsstand. This one Spider man can date from a whole year before. This one Luke Cage may have arrived here in just a few months. Smell the American.
The cultural distance between the United States and Western Europe was immeasurably greater than it is today. We had fun with the hardly believable advertisements (apparently fraudulent) that tastes and technologies belonged to other planets. We gape at the huge scale of the Marvel Universe. And we warmed up with the comic version of Stan Lee, then editor of Marvel, which appeared sporadically in its organs.
Reading the American comics in an irregular and fragmented way, it was difficult to follow the soap operas in progress
Like Alfred Hitchcock, he developed a persona that helped to craft art. The thick mustache, the extravagant hair, he dropped an informal patois you did not get from middle-aged men east of Martha's Vineyard. The editor had catch phrases. "" Nuff said "ended up with any discussion.His columns closed with" Excelsior! "We knelt as liberated civilians accepting" chocolate bars "and" nylons "from high-nosed soldiers.Some of the references were lost in us. It took me many years to understand why Spiro Agnew, the vice president whose unrelated doom preceded that of Richard Nixon, was a scornful figure to Stan, and this obscurity only heightened the attraction.
We were also on board with the two innovations that characterized Marvel's triumph in the 1960s: an embrace of everyday frailty and the creation of a broader universe to accommodate all titles. Reading American comic books erratically, it was difficult to keep up with the soap operas in progress, but it was clear that Peter Parker, Spider-Man's alter ego, did not have an inner life awakened by Alf Tupper to Winner) or Union Jack Jackson (a British Marine in the Hotspur). He had a fragile aunt. He had several girlfriends. He was bullied at school and then Daily Clarinet. "Monsieur Parker is cramped," as Flaubert did not say.
It was the second most useful innovation to win the current Marvel domain. The publisher accommodated "Team-Ups" in which, say, Spider-Man and Namor, the Submarine, would avoid Armageddon that month. Dr Doom was most often an antagonist of the Fantastic Four, but he also had cracks in Black Panther and Iron Man. Heroes reunited as The Avengers and The Defenders.
Most successful franchise
It's surprising that Marvel took so long to take over the box office. The two great ambassadors for competing DC Empire – Batman and Superman – have triumphed in previous franchises, but it was only in 2002 that Sam Raimi's Spider-Man broke it for Marvel. Six years later, Jon Favreau Iron Man has launched the Marvel Cinematographic Universe. Episodes of Captain America, Thor and The Avengers followed. Having transported more than $ 15 billion, the series is now the most successful franchise of all time. This helps that the characters are strong. This further helps – in a time dominated by sequels and unfoldings – they inhabit a fictional universe that seems destined to expand for as long as the real universe. Soon there will be little more than MCU movies to see at your local cinema. Even Charlemagne could not have imagined it.