Recently, Disney announced both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would be officially named “Disney Legends” at the D23 Expo next month in Anaheim, CA. This award is the Walt Disney Company’s own hall of fame award, which is given by a committee to people who “made a significant impact on the Disney legacy.” Other recipients this year include the late Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Oprah Winfrey.
As both Lee and Kirby are giants of the comic book industry and arguably the most important creative team ever, they are not “Disney Legends.” Sorry, but Lee and Kirby are absolute legends. If Disney made a new award like “Marvel Legends” then I would be all for it. But Disney? No. Let me explain why.
First of all, Lee and Kirby weren’t working for the Disney company when they were making comics back in the day. Marvel was bought by Disney in 2009. Lee and Kirby were working for themselves, not Walt. The Walt Disney Company can’t rewrite history, suddenly saying, “They were making all these great characters for us.” Spider-Man, the Hulk and the rest of Marvel didn’t belong to Disney then. They belonged to Marvel and its fans.
When I think of Lee and Kirby, I don’t think of Disney. I think of Marvel Comics in its heyday. I think of the Silver Age, countless classic covers and timeless stories. Mickey Mouse, churros and standing in line for 90 minutes to ride on Space Mountain don’t come to mind.
Their talents transcend the Disney name. Lee and Kirby put Marvel on the map with Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men and countless other comics. All their success had NOTHING to do with Disney.
On the other hand, it’s great that Disney is acknowledging Lee and Kirby for their enormous contributions to Marvel. However, this may be misguided. To label them as Disney Legends to me takes away what they accomplished themselves. To say, “Your run on The Fantastic Four was really for Disney and not Marvel” is honestly insulting to a degree.
However, there were other worthy Disney Legends recipients in the past, people who actually contributed to Disney one way or another like animators, Imagineers like Tony Baxter (designer of rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Star Tours and the Indiana Jones Adventure) and various actors and actresses.
If Disney does want to honor Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, give them their own awards with the Marvel name on them. Don’t name them Disney Legends so you can rewrite history and say they were working for you this whole time.
I hope you M-I-C my point. K-E-Y? Because Lee and Kirby are legends, period. They deserve much more, Disney. Show it.
PS. I can sense Tiras typing the email saying he’s firing me after that last awful pun I made.
Editor’s note: Tiras, here. It made me chuckle, so your position is secure, Keith (insert ‘wink-face’ emoticon HERE).