Spider-Man is one of the most loved superheroes of all time. And many of us couldn’t imagine growing up without watching the crawling superhero cartoons on television.But the idea behind having super powers as a spider wasn’t loved by the publishers. Stan Lee, the 95-year-old former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief recalled his difficulty in getting the teenaged superhero published because of his relation to the eight-legged creatures:
“Never give up on your dreams,” Lee wrote. “When I first wrote Spider-Man my publisher said I was crazy because people hate spiders and insects and he was not going to publish it. But I never gave up, until it was published.”
Never give up on your dreams! When I first wrote Spider-Man my publisher said I was crazy because people hate spiders and insects and he was not going to publish it. But I never gave up, until it was published.
— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) May 19, 2018
Lee expanded on what his publisher-branded “the worst idea” in a 2015 interview with BBC Radio 4, saying, “My publisher said, in his ultimate wisdom, ‘Stan, that is the worst idea I have ever heard.’”
“‘First of all, people hate spiders, so you can’t call a book Spider-Man,’” Lee recounted. “‘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?’”
Spider-Man proved so popular and financially successful for a then-newly minted Marvel Comics he received his own series, The Amazing Spider-Man, just seven months later.
The character quickly became Marvel’s flagship superhero and in 2014 Spider-Man was named the highest-grossing licensed character, with products earning $1.3 billion in global retail sales — figures that outsold even the Avengers ($325 million in 2013) more than four times over.
In numerous interviews Lee has credited a fly on the wall as the initial inspiration for the wall-crawler.
“I couldn’t think of any new super power,” Lee told the NY Daily News in 2012. “And then I saw a fly crawling on a wall. And I said, ‘Boy, it would be great if I could get a superhero who could stick to walls like an insect.”
After cycling through the names “Insect Man,” “Stick-to-Wall Man,” and “Mosquito Man,” Lee dreamed up “Spider-Man.”
“Then it hit me,” Lee said. “I thought of Spider-Man, and that sounded scary and dramatic – and as we often say, the rest is history.”
Lee published his first tweet himself earlier this week and has become more active and independent on social media.
Spider-Man’s six solo films since 2002 have earned an unadjusted $4.84 billion. Lee has famously made cameo appearances in all six films.
Holland’s high school-aged Spider-Man — the first to operate in a shared universe populated by other Lee co-creations like Iron Man and the Hulk — recently featured in Avengers: Infinity War, now the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time and the highest-grossing superhero movie in history.