Stan Lee (2023)

Stan Lee (2023)

A charming introduction to the famous comic book creator with words from the man himself



United States of America
Documentary, Drama
Jack Kirby, Joan Lee, Joe Simon
86 min


Half biopic, half MCU ad - it’s a charming, yet sugarcoated introduction to the man and his characters.

What it's about

Stan Lee tells his story and how he shaped comic book history.

The take

Stan Lee, the documentary, is a charming introduction to the iconic creator. He enthusiastically narrates his journey into comics – from lowly intern to famous publisher – giving a seemingly modest account of events. With his voice making most of the narrative, Lee’s voice reveals his creative process and mindset, detailing the day-to-day writing process and the Marvel method. However, the documentary isn’t Lee’s voice alone. Director David Gelb brings a charming approach to this documentary, as seen in his previous work, that helps turn his subject palatable, despite the disagreement displayed by other people. Overall, the film is an okay introduction, though the full story behind Lee’s most contentious events, deserves a documentary of its own.

What stands out

Since there’s an abundance of media surrounding Lee, as well as a variety of titles credited to him, it’s easy for any director to pull these shots and call it a day. Instead, Gelb takes a charming approach in treating these shots and making up for undocumented moments. For example, in speaking about key ideas Lee conceptualized, Gelb uses some slight animation of old comic frames to emphasize certain dialogue or character powers. But the most delightful technique used was the miniature dioramas for key points of Lee’s story. These bring a charming vibe to the film – giving us a break from his numerous photos and videos while distancing the people’s faces from certain personal moments. It worked well for his childhood, evoking a vintage aura that would match the style of old model kits kids would play with at that time. It also works for sensitive events, like Kirby’s leaving.


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