Jack Kirby Estate Slams Marvel For Stan Lee Documentary

The estate and the son of the legendary artist responds.

The estate and the son of the legendary artist responds.

Jack Kirby Estate Slams Marvel For Stan Lee Documentary

Kevin Feige’s true colors continue to leak out as now Marvel Studios is in the hot seat regarding the Stan Lee documentary that was recently released on the Disney+ streaming service.

Make no mistake, the documentary is from Marvel Studios, as it says so in the official description (read below).

I’ve noticed the various press sites spinning news as of late that blames Disney for Feige’s and Marvel’s distasteful actions as of late, which also includes the use of Artificial Intelligence in Secret Invasion. Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, is to blame, not just Disney. Make no mistake about it.

Secret Invasion official description:

From Marvel Studios and acclaimed director David Gelb, “STAN LEE” is the official documentary film about Stan “The Man” Lee and his journey to become one of the most influential people in the world of comic books and pop culture. Tracing his life from his challenging upbringing as Stanley Lieber to the meteoric rise of Marvel Comics, “STAN LEE” tells Stan’s story in his own words. Using only archival material – from personal home video, interviews and audio recordings – the film examines Stan’s origin story and what emerged from it: a far-reaching universe of stories with three-dimensional characters that have resonated with people all over the world. In this way, “STAN LEE” is both a story of comics and passion, and an intimate portrait of a man, his philosophy and its lasting impression.

Jack Kirby responds:

So following the release of the Stan Lee documentary, the estate for Jack Kirby released a statement that the “Stan Lee documentary is another example of regurgitating falsehood and repeating long debunked ideas into the creation of these beloved Marvel characters.”

The statement continues, “Jack and Stan were an amazing team, whose combined talents ushered in an entire universe of superheroes that have inspired generations. The Jack Kirby Estate has and will continue to ensure that comic book and pop culture fans understand the importance of Jack in the creation of the Marvel Universe.

“This continuation to push a challenged narrative, hurts the legacy of Stan Lee as well, and continues the disregard towards Jack in the creation of these iconic characters,” says the statement. “It truly pains the family to once again have to fight to ensure Jack’s legacy and his global contribution to the comics industry. Jack Kirby was more than an artist, he was a visionary and creative force, whose contribution to the creation of many Marvel characters goes way beyond putting pencil to paper.”

The statement adds, “Stan Lee will rightfully be remembered as a champion of comic books, creative powerhouse and figurehead of one the world’s most cherished brands. It is now time for the world to discover the other creative force behind their favorite superheroes. The Jack Kirby Estate invites you to learn more about Jack’s version of how these superheroes were created and his inspiration for doing so. Jack loved his fans and creating for them was not just a job, it was his passion.”

The statement concludes, “There are many resources that now add historical facts that are finally changing the one-sided narrative that has been pushed throughout the years. We look forward to one day having a documentary that tells both sides of this amazing story. Until that time, we’ll continue to ensure Jack’s legacy is protected and find solace in knowing that these co-creations continue to inspire and entertain people around the world.
The Kirby Estate”

Jack Kirby’s son responds:

The granddaughter of Jack Kirby also posted the following from her father, Neal Kirby, the son of Jack Kirby:

Statement from Neal Kirby, Jack Kirby’s son, regarding Stan Lee documentary/bio released 6/16/23 on Disney+:

The 13th century Islamic poet/scholar Rumi said, “The Ego is a veil between humans and God.” In the Disney+ documentary bio of Stan Lee, the veil is lifted. Presented in the first person with Lee’s voice providing a running narrative, it is Stan Lee’s greatest tribute to himself. The literary expression of ego is the personal pronoun “I.” Any decent English or Journalism teacher would admonish their students not to overuse it. So, the challenge is extended to anyone who wishes to count the number of “I’s” during the 86-minute running time of Stan Lee.

I (ooops!) understand that, as a “documentary about Stan Lee,” most of the narrative is in his voice, literally and figuratively. It’s not any big secret that there has always been controversy over the parts that were played in the creation and success of Marvel’s characters. Stan Lee had the fortunate circumstance to have access to the corporate megaphone and media, and he used these to create his own mythos as to the creation of the Marvel character pantheon. He made himself the voice of Marvel. So, for several decades he was the “only” man standing, and blessed with a long life, the last man standing (my father died in 1994). It should also be noted and is generally accepted that Stan Lee had a limited knowledge of history, mythology, or science. On the other hand, my father’s knowledge of these subjects, to which I and many others can personally attest, was extensive. Einstein summed it up better; “More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego.”

If you were to look at a list and timeline of Marvel’s characters from 1960 through 1966, the period in which the vast majority of Marvel’s major characters were created during Lee’s tenure, you will see Lee’s name as a co-creator on every character, with the exception of the Silver Surfer, solely created by my father. Are we to assume Lee had a hand in creating every Marvel character? Are we to assume that it was never the other co-creator that walked into Lee’s office and said, “Stan, I have a great idea for a character!” According to Lee, it was always his idea. Lee spends a fair amount of time talking about how and why he created the Fantastic Four, with only one fleeting reference to my father. Indeed, most comics historians recognize that my father based the Fantastic Four on a 1957 comic he created for DC, “Challengers of the Unknown,” even naming Ben Grimm (The Thing) after his father Benjamin, and Sue Storm after my older sister Susan.

Though the conflict between Lee and my father concerning creator credit gets glanced over with little mention, there is more attention paid to the strife between Lee and Steve Ditko, with Lee’s voice proclaiming, “it was my idea, therefore I created the character,” Ditko’s rebuttal being that his art and storyline is what brought life to Spiderman. In 1501, the Opera del Duomo commissioned a 26-year- old Michelangelo to sculpt a statue of David for the Cathedral of Florence – their idea, their money. The statue is called Michelangelo’s David – his genius, his vision, his creativity.

I was very fortunate. My father worked at home in his Long Island basement studio we referred to as “The Dungeon,” usually 14 – 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Most of the artists, writers, inkers, etc. worked at home, not in the Marvel offices as depicted in the program. Through middle and high school, I was able to stand at my father’s left shoulder, peer through a cloud of cigar smoke, and witness the Marvel Universe being created. I am by no means a comics historian, but there are few, if any, that have personally seen or experienced what I have, and know the truth with first-hand knowledge.

My father retired from comic books in the early 1980’s, and of course passed away in 1994. Lee had over 35 years of uncontested publicity, much, naturally, with the backing and blessing of Marvel as he boosted the Marvel brand as a side effect of boosting himself. The decades of Lee’s self-promotion culminated with his cameo appearances in over 35 Marvel films starting with “X-Men” in 2000, thus cementing his status as the creator of all things Marvel to an otherwise unknowing movie audience of millions, unfamiliar with the true history of Marvel comics. My father’s first screen credit didn’t appear until the closing crawl at the end of the film adaptation of Iron Man in 2008, after Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Larry Lieber. The battle for creator’s rights has been around since the first inscribed Babylonian tablet. It’s way past time to at least get this one chapter of literary/art history right. ‘Nuff said.
Neal Kirby (Jack Kirby’s son)

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