Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes in the world and this is translating into the box office numbers of Spider-Man: No Way Home. While we all know it was created by Marvel legend Stan Lee, did you know it was rejected when he first pitched the character to his boss at Marvel? Well, as today is the comic book writer’s birthday, we decided to tell you all about it.
Spider-Man first appeared in the anthology comic book Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) in the Silver Age of Comic Books. The solo Spider-Man comic book, The Amazing Spider-Man, was released in 1963. It was followed by several series and eventually became Marvel’s top-selling series. Read on to know the whole story of how it went from being a rejected superhero to becoming one of the most loved ones today.
As reported by cheatsheet, in a 2000 interview with Larry King, late Stan Lee revealed how he developed the concept for Spider-Man. The Marvel comic writer said, “I saw a fly crawling on the wall, and I said, ‘Wow, suppose a person has the power to stick to a wall like an insect.’”
Stan Lee added “So I was off and running, and I thought, ‘What do I call him?’ I tried Mosquito Man, but that didn’t have any glamour. Insect Man, that was even worse. I went down the line, and I got to Spider-Man. It sounded mysterious and dramatic, and lo a legend was born.”
In the same article, the portal also noted Stan Lee talking about Spider-Man being rejected when it was initially pitched. Stating that when he first put forth the idea, Marvel publisher Martin Goodman rejected it, he said, “I walked in, and I said I have an idea for Spider-Man, a book called Spider-Man, about a teenager who has a lot of problems.” He added, “This time, Martin wouldn’t go along with me.”
Justifying his answer, Stan added that Goodman suggested that the idea of a teen superhero would turn readers off. While promoting his graphic-novel memoir, Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir, Stan Lee told BBC Radio 4 in an interview, “My publisher said, in his ultimate wisdom, ‘Stan, that is the worst idea I have ever heard.” He continued, “‘First of all, people hate spiders, so you can’t call a book Spider-Man. Secondly, he can’t be a teenager—teenagers can only be sidekicks. And third, he can’t have personal problems if he’s supposed to be a superhero—don’t you know who a superhero is?’”
But that didn’t stop Stan Lee. When Marvel’s Martin Goodman rejected the idea of Spider-Man, a year later, after collaborating with artist Steve Ditko, Lee featured the hero in one of the final issues of Amazing Fantasy. He told the Television Academy, “We had a book we were gonna kill. When you drop a book nobody cares what you put in the last issue because you’re killing it. So just to get it out of my system, I put Spider-Man in, and I featured him on the cover.”
Revealing that when the comic book went on sale and Goodman realized Spider-Man was a success, Lee said, “When the sales figures came in, Martin came running into my office and said, ‘Stan, do you remember that character of yours, Spider-Man, that we both liked so much? Why don’t you do a series of them?’ I will never forget that.”
Just recently, the third Spider-Man movie with Tom Holland in the lead hit cinemas. Prior to his, actors like Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire also played the web-slinging hero in three live-action films each.
Happy Birthday Stan Lee, our world would be incomplete if it weren’t for these amazing superheroes you gave us.