Stan Lee—the comic book icon who created the Marvel Universe—has died at the age of 95, TMZ is reporting. After a year of poor health, including a bout of pneumonia, Lee died in an L.A. hospital, according to TMZ. Having started Marvel comics in 1961 with Jack Kirby, Lee created some of the most iconic superhero characters of all time, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and Black Panther, along with the Avengers.
He is the man behind what has become the most powerful force in Hollywood—the Marvel Cinematic Universe—a multi-billion dollar film franchise that includes nearly 20 movies and the massive Avengers series. Since the revitalization of the characters in 2010 with Iron Man, Lee's characters have anchored some of the highest grossing movies of all time. He told Esquire in 2012 that his favorite part of his long legacy was seeing characters he put on paper in the '60s become living breathing people in the movies.
"When you can sit down with a plain sheet of paper in front of you and make some notes, and, little by little, you see it take shape and become a concept for a movie or a TV show. That's a real thrill," Lee told Esquire. "You watch it go from notes on a paper to a meeting with writers and directors and actors. I can't think of anything that's more exciting."
Lee was born in Manhattan in 1922 and grew up during the Depression, where he'd write to pass the time. That became one of the greatest American success stories of all time, when Lee turned his passion for imagination into one of the two most iconic comic book publishers of all time, along with some of the most beloved characters on print or film.
"The most important thing in those days was the cover. All these books were on the newsstand, and you had to hope your cover would compel somebody to buy the book. And everything depended on the name," he told Inc in 2009. "A character like Hurricane was a guy who ran very fast. Later on, when I was looking for new superheroes, it occurred to me that somebody crawling on walls would be interesting. I thought, Mosquito Man? It didn't sound very glamorous. Fly Man? I went down the list and came to Spider-Man. That was it."
In recent years, Lee is best known to a younger generations for his cameos in every Marvel movie since 1989.
This article originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.