Review: ‘With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story’

Review: ‘With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story’

"... You never get a chance to see much further than the surface. "


With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story is a movie that looks at one of the greats of the comic book industry.  I am a little late out of the gate on this one, but Netflix is my main source of movies, so I kinda have to wait til they make it available before I get a chance to see it.  Luckily, this one didn’t disappoint, even if it did gloss over many of the more controversial elements of Stan Lee’s life.

Stan Lee is, first-and-foremost, a very charismatic individual, as anyone who has ever met him can tell you.  He made his name in comics through a mixture of creativity, perseverance, hard work and a little bit of luck.  His characters are today some of the most popular in the world and are ending up on movies screens around the world.  It was partly through Lee’s efforts that people’s opinions of comic books became elevated from the grade-school literature that many people used to consider them to be.

This movie goes over his rise from intern to the godfather of comic books and explores some of his personal life in the process.  There are many interviews with Lee as well as several from those who have been involved with him in one capacity or another.  The story talks to those who used to work with him back in the day at Marvel and several who have been involved in bringing his stories to life via the medium of moving pictures.  Lee talks a bit about his view of the world and how he made attempts to change it in his own way, by showing the problems he thought relevant in his comics and bringing them to the attention of his readers.

The film is, however, a bit too short for my tastes at just under one-and-a-half hours.  You never get a chance to see much further than the surface.  There are a few times when the film explores some of the darker moments in Lee’s past or delves into his philosophy, but it still could have been much better with even just another half-hour of interviews and history.  It should have also taken a closer look at some of the more controversial issues surrounding Lee’s life, such as his tenuous relationships with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

At points, the movie glazes over comic book history in a way that will leave many who are exploring the industry’s roots for the first time some false impression.  Still, it’s worth a watch for comic books fans, lovers of Stan Lee and any who wish to take a peak at where it all began.  I’d advise looking into a few more films on the subject if you want to get a better picture, however.