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Stan Lee faced lots of opposition before creating iconic Spider-Man character

Stan Lee faced lots of opposition before creating iconic Spider-Man character

Stan Lee's publisher was not impressed with his idea for an arachnid-inspired teen hero with 'personal problems'.

Spider-Man has thrilled comic book fans for 60 years, however he almost didn't exist due to Stan Lee's publisher calling it 'the worst idea I've ever heard'.

Stan Lee shared the real origin story for one of the world's most beloved superheroes during a 2017 keynote address at the UCLA Extension Certificate Graduation Ceremony.

The late comic book legend - who died in 2018 - decided it would be a ‘groovy’ idea to have a superhero who can climb walls after spotting a fly crawling on a wall.

He settled on the name Spider-Man because it sounded ‘dramatic’ after considering ‘Fly-Man’ and ‘Mosquito-Man’.

Lee decided to give his new hero ‘personal problems’ because ‘most other people’ have them.

He also settled on making Spider-Man a teenager because he couldn't think of any other teenage heroes at the time.

“So armed with all that wonderful material, those great ideas, I ran into my publisher’s office and I told him," Lee explained. "This was the reaction he gave me: ‘Stan, that is the worst idea I have ever heard.’

“'First of all, people hate spiders, so you can’t call a hero Spider-Man, you want him to be a teenager? Teenagers can only be sidekicks.

"'And you want him to have personal problems? Stan, don’t you know what a superhero is? They don’t have personal problems’.”

Stan Lee's publisher was not impressed with his Spider-Man idea.
MediaPunch Inc / Alamy Stock Photo.

Lee told the graduates how he sneakily managed to get Peter Parker in a comic book - and we're all eternally grateful he did.

He said: “Well I left the office disappointed but obviously a much wiser man and I couldn’t get Spider-Man out of my system.”

Lee hired an artist to draw his new character and snuck him into the last issue of a failing magazine called Amazing Fantasy.

The webslinger made his debut in issue #15 published in 1962. It was the final issue and Lee was able to put him in there ‘to get him out of my system’.

A month later the sales figures came in and Stan’s publisher ‘came racing’ into his office. He reportedly said: “You remember that character we both loved so much, Spider-Man? Let’s do him as a series!”

Spider-Man: No Way Home grossed over $1 billion at the global box office.
Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo.

Stan told the story to encourage the graduates to follow through with the ideas they believe in. He said: “If you have an idea that you genuinely think is good, don’t let some idiot talk you out of it.

“That doesn’t mean that every wild notion you come up with is going to be genius but if there is something that you feel is good, something you want to do, something that means something to you, try to do it, because you can only do your best work if you're doing what you want to do and if you’re doing it the way you think it should be done. And if you can take pride in it after you’ve done it, no matter what it is."

The Spider-Man franchise has gone on to expand beyond comic books into the realm of toys and other merchandise and highly successful cartoons and live-action films.

Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland have all portrayed the teen hero on the big screen, most recently in Spider-Man: No Way Home which grossed $1.9 billion at the global box office.

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Featured Image Credit: viralambition/TikTok/Sony Pictures Releasing

Topics: Film and TV, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man