With the recent passing of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, tributes and praise for the brains behind such comic favorites as Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man and the Avengers have been pouring in from all corners of the comic book world. It's clear that Lee had a major impact on so many in the industry, including Hollywood, where his creations have turned into one of the most recognizable studios in the world.
Along with the tributes have also come interesting stories about Lee, particularly one shared by director Sam Raimi, who remembered a time when he and Lee pitched a potential Thor movie to Fox back in 1991, but the idea was emphatically turned down.
"After I did Darkman, Stan Lee called me and was like, 'Hey, kid, I liked your movie,'" Raimi said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "He took me out to lunch and said we should work together. I said I'd like to make a movie about Thor. We worked together writing treatments and took it to Fox and pitched it. And they said, 'Absolutely no. Comic books don't make good movies.' This was in 1991."
Raimi was a major part of the comic book movie wave when he directed the first three Spider-Man films, beginning in 2002. Together, Raimi and Lee would help bring one of Marvel's most iconic characters to the big screen, and it undoubtedly played a major role in sparking the demand for more comic book characters earning their own movie series. That came 10 years after the two tried to create a film based upon the God of Thunder, back before studios understood the potential of comic book characters translating to the big screen. Looking back, Fox would probably have changed their mind.
Nine years after the first Spider-Man cleaned up at the box office, Thor was finally made into a movie in 2011, just not with Raimi at the helm. Turns out, they likely needed a more household name in the comic book world to start Marvel's cinematic surge. Spider-Man is much more recognizable than Thor, but it's interesting to know that Raimi had been on Lee's radar since the early '90s, after his film Darkman released, which was a superhero movie in itself, based upon a character that Raimi created after failing to secure the rights for the Shadow or Batman. The film currently holds an 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Lee clearly saw the potential in Raimi in the early going, and his faith was rewarded with the original Spider-Man trilogy, which produced one of the most critically acclaimed superhero movies ever in Spider-Man 2.