Would you believe that it has already been two years since Stan Lee left us?
On November 12, 2018, the world was shaken when Lee, the co-creator of some of the most popular fictional characters of all time like Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the X-Men, had passed away at the age of 95. He helped make Marvel the entertainment juggernaut it is today. He wrote some of the best comic book stories ever made, and the characters he helped create continue to proliferate the movies and TV shows we still watch today.
Lee led a rich, full life, and in the years right before his passing, people waited carefully, in practically every Marvel movie, for Lee to make one of his patented cameos. It’s safe to say Lee’s legacy will live on forever, both in the stories he told, and the lives he touched.
However, while Lee was an instrumental force in developing a stunning number of Marvel heroes and villains, he certainly didn’t write all of them. Lee didn’t create Venom, Luke Cage, or Wolverine, to name a few, and sometimes, he even forgot which characters he was involved in creating.
Recently, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn took to Twitter to tell fans a quick little anecdote about how Lee forgot that he’d created one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
According to Gunn, Stan Lee forgot he created Groot
On November 12, 2020, Gunn honoured the comic book legend with these kind words: “One of the great joys of my life was getting to know @TheRealStanLee & working with him on multiple occasions. He was a wonderful guy & a true role model outside of all he gave to the world – & me personally – creatively. It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since he’s passed.”
One of the great joys of my life was getting to know @TheRealStanLee & working with him on multiple occasions. He was a wonderful guy & a true role model outside of all he gave to the world – & me personally – creatively. It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since he’s passed. pic.twitter.com/yD4lumZVaK
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) November 12, 2020
“I still remember him telling me how much he loved the first Guardians film, even though he didn’t create them. ‘You created Groot,’ I told him. ‘I did?!’ he said. He’d forgotten achievements that would sustain other creatives for a lifetime. I miss you, Stan. ‘Nuff said.”
To be fair, Lee co-created a lot of characters, and it had been well over 50 years since he came up with Groot.
Lee, along with Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers, first put the monster to paper in Tales to Astonish #13, all the way back in November 1960 (via Insider): Groot, in fact, predated the creation of the collective Marvel Universe. During his first appearance, Groot couldn’t utter his famous line, “I am Groot.” Instead, he merely communicated through various indistinct sounds.
He also wasn’t a protector of the stars, as is the case in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies — instead, he came to Earth to abduct humans and conduct experiments on them. It’s a far cry from where the character evolved, but without Stan Lee and company’s imagination and innovation, we’d be deprived of the talking tree we all know and love today.