A big screen biography centered on comic book legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby is practically inevitable, and could indeed happen soon, with a script telling that exact story now featured on Franklin Leonard's 2020 The Black List. Titled Excelsior! and written by screenwriter Alex Convery, the script is a look at "The true story of the meteoric rise (and subsequent fall) of Marvel Comics and the star-crossed creators behind the panel."
For those unaware, The Black List is an annual ranking of the best unproduced scripts that are currently floating around Tinsel Town, with screenwriters and their teams pitching the ideas featured to studios and financiers. While Excelsior! has not yet been picked up, The Black List has led to all sorts of projects being produced, including The Wrestler, Arrival, The Wolf of Wall Street and Looper. Of course, The Black List has also led to the likes of Kevin Smith's Cop Out being made and thus poisoning your eyeballs, but let's just put that to one side for now.
A story set around the relationship and creations of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby could be something very special, with the pair having brought to life some of the most recognizable characters of all time, as well as influencing both comic book storytelling to this day. Lee and Kirby collaborated on several of Marvel's earliest comics, creating the vast majority of mainstream characters fans have come to know and love including The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Silver Surfer, and so many more.
A cinematic depiction of the friendship, creative partnership and backstage drama between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby is certainly something that movie fans would be interested in seeing. The movie could perhaps even fold in some of their beloved characters as visual representations of their neuroses.
Kirby unfortunately died in 1994 at the age of 76, with Stan Lee sadly passing away in 2018. The Marvel duo have had a huge influence on modern blockbuster moviemaking, with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige attributing the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the likes of Lee, Kirby, and Steve Ditko. "I think the key to the success was Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and the dozens of writers and artists that created an amazing world over the course of forty plus years, fifty plus years," Feige said earlier this year. "In the case of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby who did Captain America, eighty years in publishing. It's amazing, and I think one of the unfair things of the universe is that Jack Kirby died before he got to see any of this happen and I'm so happy that Stan Lee got to do 22 MCU cameos for us and was there every step of the way with us, which was amazing."
He added, "I do think (the MCU) is a testament to the work they did, and not just them by the way. The tradition that publishing had that we have in films of changing the storytellers, of the new artists and new storytellers putting their own imprints on the characters. That's how these characters can last for decades and decades in publishing, and I'm hoping can last decades and decades in the cinematic arts, because you continue to change. Look at Thor. Look where Thor started with Ken Branagh, look where Thor's going with Taika, and that's a testament to the way these characters can evolve, and in that case a testament to Chris Hemsworth and his acting abilities. So there's too many people that's responsible for it."
Here's hoping that Excelsior! gets picked up and goes on to provide the definitive telling of this legendary pair. This comes to us from The Black List.