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(May 2002)

Hurray for Stan Lee!Stan Lee & His Greatest Creation!
Stan Lee, who is 79, was a teenager when he started at Marvel Comics (then known as Timely Comics) in 1939. Action Comics #1 (from DC), which introduced Superman, had just come out. Even as a young man, Lee wasn’t interested in the typical comic super-heroes who always protected their secret identities and were extremely wealthy (Batman) or totally invincible (Superman). It was more important to him that his heroes be real people who live in the real world, and not in Gotham City or Metropolis. He wanted to show how a real person would act if they suddenly got superpowers. Who wouldn’t be bewildered and confused and, more than likely, unwilling to accept the responsibilities?

In 1963 (almost 40 years ago!) Lee came up with his most enduring character. In Amazing Fantasy No.15, Spider-Man was billed as “the hero that could be you”. Spidey’s alter ego, Peter Parker, was a teenage science nerd with a fragile ego, unrequited crushes, money problems and peer pressure. As promised, just like the rest of us! At least the ego, the crushes, the money and the peer pressure parts – very few of us here at The Toast were high school science whizzes.

With Stan Lee providing characters, plot ideas, scripts with vivid dialogue and story lines that carried over several issues, and the great comic-book artist Jack Kirby supplying the fantastic drawings, comic books were so changed by these two and others at Marvel, that by the 1960s novelist Ken Kesey asserted that “Marvel has as much to say about life as any contemporary literature".

Today Stan Lee is the Executive Producer of the just released movie Spider-Man starring Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane and Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The early reviews speak glowingly of the performances of Maguire and Dunst while, at the same time, dissing the special effects as plastic, clumsy and computer-game like phony.Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man

Tobey Maguire
Speaking of Tobey Maguire. We at The Toast really like this guy. But we don’t know how he does it. He doesn’t appear to be acting. He doesn’t appear to be really doing anything! He’s just kind of up there on the screen. However, after the scene or movie is ended, you know you’ve had an emotional experience. It’s magic. Or Maguire is one of the greatest actors to come along in quite awhile.

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