Spiderman and Stan Lee

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The recent Spiderman movies are great sources for discussing character with your children or students. If you haven't seen them, see them. As blockbusters that many students will purchase and watch repeatedly, this story achieves the status of a popular folklore that we can refer to over and over. 

How to use: When you're either teaching on a certain trait or a trait comes up naturally in your curriculum or counseling, consider referring to the movie. This should help students connect the character trait to the story, promote discussion, and help them make the transfer to real life. Here are some topics addressed by Spiderman #1, #2 and #3, and suggestions for using them.

Insights and Discussions

Intercom Insight

Creator of Spiderman Shows Diligence

Stan Lee is the most recognized name in the history of comics, a modern myth-maker who created such colorful heroes as Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk and Silver Surfer. At the age of 20 he became the editor and chief writer of what would become Marvel Comics. But it wasn't always an easy road.

When the comic book industry came dangerously close to folding in the late 50's, it is said that artist and collaborator Jack Kirby returned to work with Lee and found him ''sobbing while movers took the furniture out of their offices.'' When their competitors (DC Comics) scored a big hit with their ''Justice League of America'' superheroes, headed by Superman, Lee's boss demanded new characters in response.

The characters he and Kirby invented ''revitalized the industry and revolutionized the form,'' allowing Marvel to dominate the industry. His writing is compelling. In his stories, the characters develop and you see them, not just as super-heroes, but as real people with real problems.  We identify with his characters as they struggle with the same issues in life that we do. Just think of Peter Parker, the high school science nerd who became Spiderman. As a student, he loved a girl who didn't love him. He was rejected by his classmates. He faced difficult moral choices. As Lee put it, ''Everybody has problems, and everybody has secret sorrows.'' Lee invented superheroes everyone could identify with.

He became a cultural icon in the 60's and early 70's, lecturing in colleges where students might ask if ''Silver Surfer'' was modeled on Jesus Christ. Novelist Ken Kesey said that Marvel Comics had as much to say about life as any of today's literature.

But his great success didn't come without hard work. One artist who worked under Kirby said that Lee ''wrote one book a night for 10 years.'' Now in his latter 70's he's still unstoppable, as Spiderman and the X-Men have both come to the big screen. Today he's pursuing the Internet, attempting to tell stories in an original multimedia style. According to Lee, ''I have always personally felt that all of us, every living being, gets one shot at life.'' Let's make a splash while we're here. (Written by Steve Miller, Copyright Dec. 20, 2002. Source: Salon.com , August 17, 1999)

Discussion Questions

1) How many of you have seen the movies Spiderman or The X-Men or have read some of Stan Lee's comics?
2) What do you think made his comics so successful?
3) What if he'd gotten so discouraged that he'd given up when things went bad?
4) Could he have been successful without a strong work ethic?
5) What can we learn from Stan Lee?
6) What can we do this week to hang in there during the hard times and exhibit a strong work ethic?

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