While a lot of movie fans only know Marvel through the MCU, the true origin of their iconic superheroes began in the pages of Marvel Comics. Stan Lee is the man credited with putting Marvel on the map with the creation of a host of grounded new heroes, from the Fantastic Four to The Incredible Hulk. Filmmaker James Gunn, who followed in Lee's footsteps with his take on the MCU's Guardians of the Galaxy, took to Instagram to honor Lee on his second death anniversary with a throwback photo and the following message.
"One of the great joys of my life was getting to know @therealstanlee & working with him on multiple occasions. He was a wonderful guy & a true role model outside of all he gave to the world - and to me personally - creatively. It's hard to believe it's been 2 years since he's passed. I still remember him telling me how much he loved the first Guardians film, even though he didn't create them. "You created Groot," I told him. "I did?!" he said. He'd forgotten achievements that would sustain other creatives for a lifetime. I miss you, Stan. 'Nuff said. [Heart emoji]"
Lee died on November 12, 2018, two and a half weeks before his 96th birthday. His passing proved a uniting force for comic fans the world over, bringing together the two biggest comic book competitors, DC and Marvel, as they collectively mourned Lee's death. For his part, it is clear Gunn still feels a debt of gratitude to the man who was one of the creative forces behind the characters who now populate the Marvel movies including the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Gunn's own relationship with the MCU has been strained from time to time. After gaining acclaim for his Marvel debut movie Guardians of the Galaxy, Gunn was removed from the directorial position for the sequel due to some objectionable Tweets that the filmmaker had made decades ago. The fan backlash was so intense thatJames Gunn was brought back into the MCU, and went on to make Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.
Most recently, Gunn has become the first major MCU director to make the jump to the DCEU, with his upcoming movie The Suicide Squad. While a certain section of the Marvel fandom sees this as working with the "enemy", Gunn has stated that there is no rivalry between DC and Marvel, adding that MCU showrunner Kevin Feige has visited the sets of The Suicide Squad, and knows who the main villain is, and the finer details of the closely-guarded plot.
With his latest post honoring Lee, Gunn has proven again that his work at DC has had no impact on his affection for the MCU, and Marvel Comics in general. Lee himself was fond of the world of DC, referring to the company as the "Distinguished Competition", and reimagining their titular characters, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman for a limited comic series run back in 2001 titled Just Imagine...