Los Angeles Times

Three ways Stan Lee helped create the modern superhero movie

By the time the Marvel Cinematic Universe experienced its Big Bang with the 2008 smash "Iron Man," Stan Lee had long since retired from official duties at Marvel, settling into a role as a revered spiritual grandfather to the comic book world, as close to a flesh-and-blood superhero as fans could hope to get.

But though Lee was no longer actively involved in steering the panoply of characters he had helped create - including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Black Panther, Thor and the Fantastic Four - his legacy as a key architect of what would quickly become Hollywood's dominant genre was already firmly established.

In the decade

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