I wrote and researched a feature article on the impact of Stan Lee. In my research it seems people often compare Stan Lee to Walt Disney. I would certainly agree that both these men have had and continue to have an enormous impact on society, particularly entertainment, but who has the most impact? In terms of recognisablility I think the company ‘Disney’ is more well known than Marvel (it even owns Marvel). I also believe that the simplicity of the design of Mickey Mouse makes him more recognisable than most (if not all) Marvel characters.
When it comes to relate-ability however I personally connect more with characters such as Spider-Man and Loki than Micky Mouse and Donald Duck. I have to say though Disney’s more recent movies such as Frozen 2 contain much more realistic, relatable characters. Out of the two men Stan Lee is also more visually recognisable in my opinion. I think it is more common for people to cosplay Stan Lee himself than for people to cosplay Walt Disney. Some people such as the Fake Stan Lee met Stan Lee while cosplaying him.
Another difference I note is while Walt did create his own original characters (Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Donald Duck, Goofy etc.) Disney is most well known for adapting stories such as fairy tales. Nowadays when people say they want a fairy tale wedding I think they may actually mean a Disney fairy tale wedding. For many people when they think of the classic fairy tales (e.g. The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White etc.) it is the Disney versions that come to mined. I guess a similar thing could be said for the Norse mythology which Marvel adapted for Thor. When people think of Loki for example they are less likely to think of the red-headed brother of Odin from the mythology rather images of Tom Hiddleston as seen in the Marvel movies may come to mind. While there are some Marvel characters like Thor and Loki who are adapted from other stories most of the characters I can think of are completely original. Below is a great example of someone who loves Loki in all forms. Keyes’sparticular cosplay here is based more off mythology Loki than Marvel MCU or comics. Honestly I still love Loki either way.
In the 1960’s Stan Lee came up with a lot of the ideas for some of Marvel’s most well known superheroes. These heroes have transcended their original comics to include movie, cartoon and video game adaptions. Again the same could be said for Disney, especially with the release of the new Kingdom Hearts 3 game. What I find personally with Disney’s adaptions is the story-line and characters stay very much the same with each reiteration. With Spider-Man for example each adaption brings something new and exciting. Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy No. 15 was unusual for featuring a teenage hero with real everyday problems. Fast forward almost sixty years and we have multiple live action and animated adaptions of Spidey. The most recent movie ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ features not just Spider-Man, but multiple Spider-Men. It also includes Penni Parker, Spider-Ham and Spider-Gwen who are also characters that are inspired by the original idea of Spider-Man. I wonder if we will every see a Disney movie with Mickey Mice from multiple universes…?
In my opinion there also seems to be a different stereotype between Disney and Marvel fans. It is more acceptable for a girl to be a Disney fan as there is that association between fairy tales and princesses. Marvel is about superheroes and superheroes, despite characters like Captain Marvel and Black Widow, are seen as a masculine thing. There is still unfortunately the stereotype of a fat and/or ugly lonely male comic book fan that still seems to persist. I remember in an interview I watched Stan Lee saying he thinks about 90% of Marvel comics readership is male. I think the recent Marvel movies are trying to expand their viewership especially with Captain Marvel staring a female hero. Disney on the other hand I think are struggling with the opposite issue. Many of the Disney fairy tales star Disney Princesses and therefore the stereotypical audience is female. I’m not sure what the actual gender percentages are overall, so it’s difficult to determine. All I know is that when I look at T-shirts in the women’s section there are far more Disney T-shirts than Marvel. It is then the opposite when I look in the men’s section. I therefore always look in the men’s or boy’s section when I want to buy a Marvel T-shirt. Below is an Aladdin Genie Teapot from Pop Zing Australia and if I have three wishes one would be for Disney to expand their target audience…
It’s hard to say who has the biggest impact between Walt Disney and Stan Lee. I think it’s more of a case that they impacted people differently. There is of course similarity, but overall different images and thoughts come to mind when I think of each of these two great men.
For me Stan Lee has the biggest personal impact on me as he was alive during my lifetime. There’s something special about, even now going to the movies and still hearing his voice through his cameos. The most recent Marvel movie I saw was Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and there he was *Spoiler alert* selling Spider-Man costumes (I admit he was obviously animated, but it was clearly still him). Being alive in the 21st century meant Stan Lee could engage with fans in modern ways. Just like how the Marvel actors continue to meet their fans when Stan Lee was alive he made an effort throughout his life to interact with and make a positive impact on the lives of his fans.
The now famous San Diego Comic Con only began in 1970 which is after Walt Disney died in 1966. Sadly Walt Disney died of lung cancer and therefore didn’t get to live as long as Stan Lee. I think what was part of Stan’s success was even in his old age he continued to be involved with Marvel and interact with his fans.
He may not have had as much energy as he got older, but he always put in extra effort to give people joy. In his later years he found traveling particularly tiring, so Marvel filmmakers took this into account when he filmed his cameos. Instead of traveling out each time they made a movie and wanted a cameo from him they filmed them all at once. Supposedly there’s quite a number of cameos per-recorded for future movies.
Anyway let me know your thoughts. Who do you think has had a bigger impact on society and you personally: Walt Disney or Stan Lee?
Featured image features cosplayers from a celebrating Stan Lee event held a couple of years ago.Copyright Valley Lizard 2018