Stan Lee Had the Most ‘Depressing’ Job Before He Became Marvel’s Real-Life Superhero

The day Marvel Cinematic Universe comic book creator, Stan Lee, died, a million superheroes lost their wings. The man who solidified his “icon” status long before his 95th birthday may have passed, but his legacy lives on. A new ABC special honoring Lee will highlight his work and larger-than-life presence. Before you dive in, read on to learn what Lee considered the most “depressing” job he’d ever had.

‘Celebrating Marvel’s Stan Lee’ airs before Christmas

Stan Lee at the 'Dr. Strange' premiere
Executive Director of the film, Stan Lee poses for photographers at the world premiere of Marvel Studios ‘Doctor Strange’ in Hollywood, California | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Marvel, in partnership with ABC, is gifting fans with an early Christmas present to honor Lee. The one-hour special was filmed at The New Amsterdam Theater in New York City. It was filmed partially in front of a live studio audience and will feature many of the stars Lee transformed into Marvel heroes and villains alike.

Tom Hiddleston, Mark Hamill, Cobie Smulders, Seth Green, and more, will share their fondest memories of Lee and how his work impacted their lives.

Marvel’s 75th-anniversary celebration reflected on the creator’s portfolio in 2015. Celebrating Marvel’s Stan Lee is a similar celebration. The show reveals never-before-seen interviews and archive footage with Lee from Marvel and ABC archives, according to a press release.

“As a young man, Stan ‘The Man’ Lee always dreamed of writing, going on to create some of the greatest heroes of our modern times,” said Joe Quesada, Executive Vice President, Creative Director of Marvel Entertainment.

“Stan showed each of us how to be a hero in our everyday lives, and the stories he wrote will go on to influence generations of fans for decades to come.”

He continued, “We can’t wait for all you True Believers out there to see this special to honor and celebrate Stan’s incredible life and all the lives he has touched.”

The show will be hosted By Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Clark Gregg.

Lee’s work in the MCU is legendary

With more than seven decades in the comic book industry, Lee can claim Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, The X-Men, and Black Panther to his lengthy credits.

The multi-layered universes and characters in Marvel’s space brought heroes and villains together. Lee’s impact on pop culture stems from creating characters with “real-world problems” and “realistic human failings.”

Every character in Lee’s mind may have worked to save (or destroy) the world, but they also had bills, relationships, family dynamics, and even substance abuse issues. Part of Lee’s continued relevance came from his sharp social commentary threaded between the pages.

All of this aside, Lee’s roles have extended on-screen. Though he’s had bit parts as himself in non-MCU movies, his regular MCU cameos were always highly anticipated.

His first, the 1989 telefilm, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, was followed by many other beloved movies. Lee has appeared in almost every Marvel creation since 2000. He’s even been a Lego version of himself in Lego Marvel Super Heroes because, of course, he did.

What did Lee do before creating comic book characters?

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Lee began at Marvel as Editor-in-Chief, moving to editorial director and publisher, then chairman. However, what did he do before all of that?

In a 2015 memoir co-written by Lee (with Peter David), Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir, Lee divulged an early job writing antemortem obituaries for celebrities in New York.

“When a celebrity dies, about 15 minutes later the newspaper comes out and there are three pages of write-ups,” he said on a 1995 appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, “and you wonder, ‘How did they write it that fast?'”

He explained websites and newspapers pre-writing obituaries for celebrities in the event they die. Then, the obituary is ready to go at a moment’s notice.

“That’s how you know you’re famous,” he said. “I’d like to think my obituary is in a file somewhere. Then I’d know I made it.”

Eventually, Lee quit that job saying it was “too depressing.” Lucky for him, he’d have a whole other life ahead of him, and it’d be worthy of a pre-written obituary. RIP, Mr. Lee.

Celebrating Marvel’s Stan Lee airs Friday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.