I clicked Play on the old VHS machine, and even before I saw the face, I heard the voice. For countless superhero fans, that voice is instantly recognizable. It was the New York–inflected tonality of Stan Lee, the world’s most famous comic-book writer. From 1941 to 1971, Stan was the head editor and lead writer at what came to be known as Marvel Comics. While there, he claimed to have created Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Hulk, Black Panther, and many other iconic figures.

Those claims are now in dispute—they overlooked the many co-creators, partners, and artists also involved—but his fame isn’t, and he’s known around the world for his many cameos in movies about Marvel characters.