August 31, 2009 / 11:55 PM / 10 years ago

Stan Lee gives Disney-Marvel his blessing

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Stan Lee, who co-created many of Marvel Entertainment Inc’s most famous characters, gave Disney’s takeover bid a thumbs-up on Monday and waved off fears the entertainment conglomerate might undermine decades-old comics mythology.

Lee, who helped dream up some of the most enduring icons in popular culture from Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four, dismissed notions the core young male audience — notorious for attacking virtually every comic-book adaptation’s faithfulness — had anything to worry about.

“To me, becoming ‘Disneyfied’ is not a bad thing. I mean look at (Disney) movies like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’” Lee, who parted ways with Marvel years ago, but remains its Chairman Emeritus, said in a telephone interview with Reuters.

“Disney knows how to do movies. They know how to do colorful characters and I think the fans, if they think about it, they’re going to love it.”

Disney agreed on Monday to buy Marvel for $4 billion.

Former Marvel executive Shirrel Rhoades said on Monday that some Marvel readers were worried the “comic books will get watered down in a Disney-like way.”

But for Lee, that spells great things ahead for his creations, such as Thor, the Norse God of Thunder who will anchor a big-screen adaptation in 2011.

The 86-year-old Lee is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the company he helped build into a comics titan from the unknown arm of a pulp-fiction publisher. These days he is the creative force behind his own media company, called POW! Entertainment, which itself has a business partnership with Disney.

In 2011, Marvel Entertainment plans to release the movie “Thor,” based on a Stan Lee character borrowed from European mythology.

“I was trying to think of something that would be totally different. What could be bigger and even more powerful than the Hulk? And I figured why not a legendary god,” he said.

To give Thor more rhetorical punch in the comics, Lee said he gave him dialogue borrowed from the Bible and Shakespeare.

Gareb Shamus, CEO of Wizard Entertainment and the organizer of several comic-book conventions, said Lee remains a legend in the comic book world and he described meeting Lee to coming face-to-face with a character from the pages of a comic.

“It doesn’t matter where he goes, anywhere around the world, he’s the man that created some of your best friends,” Shamus added.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Edwin Chan and Andre Grenon

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