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While many people are responsible for the creation of all the comic book characters that now fill our movie screens, the man who is given most of the credit for their popularity is Marvel's Stan Lee. He had a hand in creating nearly every major character in the Marvel Universe, but when it comes to the transition to the big screen, which one does he think has been the best? He's giving the nod to the first Spider-Man movie, because he views that one as the film that made the rest of them happen.
While the first comic book movie to receive mainstream attention, and mainstream praise, was 2000s X-Men, which was certainly a solid hit, it doesn't hold a candle to the original Spider-Man which followed it two years later. Over a decade later, Spider-Man is still the sixth highest grossing comic book movie in North America, and that's without adjusting for inflation. Globally, it brought in over $800 million. It was the highest grossing movie in 2002 and it set a number of other box office records. Spider-Man was the true proof of concept that comic book movies were viable in the marketplace.
While Stan Lee is a comic book fan, he's also a businessman, and that appears to be where he's coming from when he says everything after Spider-Man was easy. After success like that, any door in Hollywood that had been closed almost certainly opened right up. "Can you make me $800 million? Please, come right this way, can I get you something to drink?" Numerous characters received their own comic book movies in fairly short order following Spider-Man including Daredevil, The Incredible Hulk, The Punisher, and The Fantastic Four. While most of the films were not nearly the hit that Spider-Man was, the failures are all the more proof that Stan Lee is right. Many studios didn't take the time that Sam Raimi took with the original Spider-Man, instead, they simply focused on the fact that comic books meant box office and started greenlighting projects. How else do think Catwoman ever happened?
While Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man is often overlooked these days, as it's been a decade and a half and we've seen two new Spider-Men since then, this is a reminder that the film is actually great, also, Spider-Man 2 is an even better movie overall.
Whether or not Spider-Man is truly the best, there's little doubt that it will be remembered in the history of film for the ground that it broke for the genre. Which is your favorite comic book movie?