Most of us, as fans of comic books and popular culture, think we know the story of Stan Lee. We’ve grown up with his iconic voice and presence on our TV screens and on the big screen. The release this week of the documentary about his storied career comes at a time of both tragedy and triumph for the man himself and gives fans an insight into the world of the man behind the persona.
Well Go USA is re-releasing the documentary With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story in a two disc DVD that comes with 90 minutes of featurettes, extended interviews with Lee’s fans and contemporaries as well as a gallery of over 500 characters that Lee co-created with some of the luminaries of the comic book industry.
If there is one thing that can be said about the release of this documentary is that it’s release at this point is slightly bittersweet. Some of the best moments in the film are the ones that show the decades long relationship between Stan Lee and his recently departed wife Joan. The scenes between the two of them show a marriage that is not comfortable and well-managed, but also continually fun and exciting. As bombastic and loud a personality as Stan Lee has in his public persona, Joan looked to give as good as she got. There was never a moment between the two of them where she shied away from either conversation or putting the man in his place when he went too far. The banter between the two of them is intimate and endearing to watch.
As to Stan’s professional life, you get the sense in his dealings with his colleagues, that his personality rubbed some of them the wrong way. As admired as he was by the likes of Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, you got the sense that even though they respected each other, their personalities might have clashed on more than one occasion. The stories that Marvel legends like Gene Colan and John Romita tell are entertaining to watch and imagine on-screen. The stories by Roy Thomas about Stan’s personality were also entertaining and gave an interesting dimension to the man.
As great as the information about the creation of the comics is, the story of Stan Lee is best told by the people who knew him. You could have cut a lot of the celebrity cameos and focused more on the writers and artists who worked with Lee on the stories. Sometimes despite himself, Lee manages to make an impact on the people he worked with and that comes through in the film.
With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story is a great slice of life of the man himself. It showcases the relationships that guided his success and is a bit of a love letter to the late Joan Lee. Pick it up and watch it.
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