The legendary co-creator of Marvel comics heroes including Spiderman, the X-Men, and the Avengers has died at age 95. TMZ reported Lee was transported to the hospital early Monday morning where he died:

We’re told an ambulance rushed to Lee’s Hollywood Hills home early Monday morning and he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. We’re told that’s where he died.

Lee had suffered several illnesses over the last year or so — he had a bout of pneumonia and vision issues.

That report has now been backed up by the Hollywood Reporter which notes Lee has had a rough couple of years:

Lee, who began in the business in 1939 and created or co-created Black Panther, Spider-Man, X-Men, The Mighty Thor, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, Ant-Man and other characters, died early Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a source told The Hollywood Reporter.

Lee’s final few years were tumultuous. After Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in July 2017, he sued executives at POW! Entertainment — a company he founded in 2001 to develop film, TV and video game properties — for $1 billion for fraud, then abruptly dropped the suit weeks later.

He also sued his ex-business manager and filed for a restraining order against a man who had been handling his affairs. (Lee’s estate was estimated to be worth as much as $70 million.) And in June 2018, it was revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department had been investigating reports of elder abuse against him.

Lee was also accused of sexual harassment earlier this year by a nursing company but he denied the allegations. But the stories surrounding Stan were troubling enough that director and fan Kevin Smith encouraged LA Comic Con attendees to cheer for Stan just a couple weeks ago as a way to let him know how much he is appreciated even in tough times:

If you’ve been to the movies any time in the past two decades you already know the influence Stan Lee has had on the culture. The current list of the top grossing films of all time (worldwide) includes four Marvel films featuring Stan Lee’s characters in the top ten. Marvel films will likely hold five of those top 10 slots once the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War is released next May.

As many people have observed over the years, the secret to Stan’s success, besides partnering with great artists like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, was making his heroes behave like real people. Spiderman was a teenager with lots of teen angst. He was also nerdy and not well liked by his classmates. The Fantastic Four was a terrifically dysfunctional family who often fought and sometimes held grudges with one another even as they tried to save the world as a team. Here’s a clip of Stan Lee talking about how he created some of his most popular heroes:

For a time when I grew up my dad was a comic book dealer, so I grew up around comics and collectors. Marvel comics were always my favorite, especially the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. I had this early 70s day-glo Iron Man poster on my wall growing up:

I still have it along with boxes of Fantastic Four comics and, somewhere in the attic, a complete set of Marvel Slurpee cups from the 1970s which my dad and I collected when they were new. So I feel a personal debt of gratitude to Stan Lee for making a part of my youth exciting and colorful and interesting in ways that only comic books were back then. At the risk of sounding really old, these kids today have no idea how good they have it with multi-million dollar films of all these characters. But young or old, we all have Stan to thank.

So thanks for everything, Stan.

Some of these tributes are being posted on Instagram and collected on Twitter:

Update: From 2008:

Tags: Stan Lee