Stan Lee’s extraordinary career, fame and fortune

Stan Lee, who passed away on Nov. 12 at age 95, helped launch Marvel into the comic book powerhouse it is today by co-creating some of the biggest names in the superhero world — including Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man, plus The Fantastic Four and The X-Men.

Lee had recently gone through troubling times. He took out a temporary restraining order against his manager of several months, Keya Morgan, after Morgan was arrested on suspicion of filing a false police report. The Los Angeles Police Department had been investigating reports of elder abuse — it’s claimed that Morgan controlled access to Lee, moved him from his family home and more.

Find out how Stan Lee has made his money over the years and who his richest fictional characters are.

A look back at Stan Lee's life and amassed wealth
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A look back at Stan Lee's life and amassed wealth

Stan Lee Net Worth: $50M

With a slew of top-grossing films, countless successful comic books and a popular comic convention, many assume Stan Lee has amassed a large fortune. But that might not necessarily be the case.

Lee’s most lucrative film is 2012’s “Marvel’s The Avengers,” which grossed over $623 million. But in a 2012 interview with CNN, Lee said he didn’t bask in the profits the movie grossed — even though he was an executive producer.

“I hate to admit this, but I do not share in the movie’s profits,” he said. “I just share in the interviews, in the glamour, in the people saying, ‘Wow, I love that movie, Stan’ — but I’m not a participant in the profits.”

He added that the executive producer role for “The Avengers” was “just an honorary title.”

Lee also told Playboy in 2014 that despite Disney paying more than $4 billion for Marvel in 2009, his fortune is not as high as some might think. In fact, he didn’t get any of the profits from the sale.

“My daughter was looking at the internet the other day and read that Stan Lee has an estimated $250 million,” he said. “I mean, that’s ridiculous! I don’t have $200 million. I don’t have $150 million. I don’t have $100 million or anywhere near that.”

Over his career, Lee has experienced several major financial setbacks, including a lawsuit with Marvel — which he won in 2005 — and a bankruptcy with Stan Lee Media. In April 2018, he filed a lawsuit against his former business manager, alleging fraud, conversion, financial abuse of an elder, and misappropriation of his name and likeness. In May 2018, he filed an additional $1 billion-dollar suit against Pow! Entertainment, the company he helped co-found, alleging that his business partners took advantage of his deteriorating eyesight in order to swindle him.

Stan Lee Age

Born December 28, 1922, Lee is 95 years old.

His career in comics began with his early writings in 1941 for Marvel’s “USA” and “Captain America” comics, and in the early 1960s, he began working full-time as a writer for Marvel in New York, helping to shape the brand with the creation of The Fantastic Four. During his time as a writer, he created many iconic characters, such as Peter Parker, who — although they had superpowers — remained relatable due to the flaws Lee imbued them with.

Lee wrote for Marvel throughout the ’60s, and in 1972, he transitioned into a publisher role.

Stan Lee Marvel Career

Lee held many different positions while at Marvel. He was a writer first, then a publisher, and in 1980 he moved to Los Angeles to develop Marvel’s TV and movie properties. Many of Lee’s comic book characters have since been adapted for the big and small screen, and many of his movie adaptations became blockbuster hits.

The movies that he has overseen and contributed characters to have brought in over $6.9 billion, according to Box Office Mojo. His five highest-grossing films, according to the data site, are:

  • “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012), $623.4 million
  • “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015), $459 million
  • “Iron Man 3” (2013), $409 million
  • “Spider-Man” (2002), $403.7 million
  • “Spider-Man 2” (2004), $373.6 million

Currently, Lee is chairman emeritus of Marvel, as well as a member of the editorial board of Marvel Comics.

Stan Lee Upcoming Marvel Movies

Movies continue to be made using the characters created by Lee. In addition to “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” his upcoming movies that could hit big include “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” an untitled “Spider-Man: Homecoming” sequel, “Silver Surfer: Prodigal Son,” “The Sinister Six,” “Stan Lee’s Annihilator,” “Doctor Doom,” “Chakra the Invincible” and “Black Widow.”

Stan Lee Other Sources of Income

In addition to serving as chairman emeritus of Marvel, Lee is chief creative officer of Pow! Entertainment, which he co-founded. The company deals with developing and licensing intellectual properties for entertainment media such as films, television, merchandising, video games and more. In May 2017, Lee sold Pow! to China’s Camsing International Holding for an undisclosed price.

Lee also makes money from selling autographs. According to Money, a photo or autograph from Lee went for $100 apiece during his appearance at 2016’s Comic-Con.

How Stan Lee Spends His Money

Lee has spent a good chunk of his fortune on real estate. In 2015, the writer and producer purchased a one-story home located near Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip for $4.4 million, Curb reported. The house features four bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a professional-grade movie theater, a sauna, a swimming pool, a spa and several outdoor patios.

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Stan Lee Awards and Honors

Lee has received a number of awards and honors over the years, including a Comic-Con Inkpot Award, a Saturn Award from the The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Producer’s Guild Vanguard Award.

Click through to read more about the richest people behind the scenes of your favorite films.

Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting for this article.


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