Inside Stan and Joan Lee's 69-year romance: 'She's the perfect wife for me'

The comic-book giant's muse and soul mate died at 93 years old.

ByABC News
July 7, 2017, 10:50 AM

— -- Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee’s wife, Joan, died Thursday in Los Angeles, and the entertainment company was quick to mourn the loss of the woman who served as the comic-book creator's main source of inspiration and support over their 69 years of marriage and his half-century in the publishing business.

“We are so saddened to hear about the loss of Joan Lee. We lost a member of the Marvel family today and our thoughts and prayers go out to Stan and his daughter Joan in this difficult time,” Marvel posted on Thursday night.

Joan Lee, who was 93, met the Spider-Man creator in the late 1940s while she was working as a hat model, and the two married just weeks later.

Stan Lee said later that it was fate as he knew instantly she was the one.

"There was one girl I drew: one body and face and hair. It was my idea of what a girl should be. The perfect woman," Lee told the Hollywood Reporter in 2016. "And when I got out of the Army, a cousin of mine said, 'Stan, there's this really pretty girl named Betty. I think you'd like her. Why don't you go over and ask her to lunch?' I went up to this place. Betty didn't answer the door, but Joan did. I took one look at her. She was the girl I had been drawing all my life. She said, 'May I help you?' I think I said 'I love you.' I proposed to her at lunch."

From the time they married, Joan served as a muse to the artist and scribe.

Marvel set itself apart from its competition in the 1960s through its characters who lived in the real world and dealt with real-world problems. Stan Lee has credited his wife with inspiring him to create relatable heroes as opposed to perfect ones with wealth and charm.

In fact, Lee has said that he thought about quitting the business before hitting it big in his late 30s.

"I told my wife, Joanie, ‘I’m going to quit.’ But she said: ‘Why not write it the way you want to write it? If it doesn’t work, the worst that’s going to happen is that they’ll fire you. And you want to quit anyway,'" Lee told the Washington Post in 2011.

The result was 1961's "Fantastic Four," a "turning point of my life," Lee said.

"I tried having heroes in love and getting married. And the teenager was a brother, who didn’t particularly want to be a superhero," he explained.

But Lee didn't stop there. When he created what he would later call his favorite all-time hero, Spider-Man, the next year, he gave the boy he related to most a love interest who may have seemed pretty familiar -- Gwen Stacy.

"Stan has always said that I have a cartoon face," Joan Lee said in a 2002 interview about being the inspiration for Peter Parker's first love. "I never felt that was kind of complimentary, but you know, little nose, big eyes, that was when I was younger, of course."

Joan became a voice-over star in the 1990s as several of Marvel's animated series became big hits with shows like "Iron Man," "Fantastic Four" and of course, "Spider-Man." She also appeared alongside Stan in cameos for more recent films like "X-Men: Apocalypse," according to IMDB.

"It was incredible, it was being with people who were absolutely wonderful," she said of the work.

"My wife and I are really so close," Stan Lee said laughing in 2011. "And yet, I'm not sure if she's ever read a story I wrote. She's totally not into comics at all ... She's the perfect wife for me."