With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (2010) Review

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Okay doc about great subject 

With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (2010): 7 out of 10: A documentary, released in 2010, tells the story of Marvel figurehead Stan the Man basically in his own words.

The Good

The Good: Charming background on where Stan came from and how he got started with Timely Comics. It also contains generous and excellent behind the scene glimpses of his home life with his wife Joan B. Lee. Fans of Stan Lee will know some stories, but I think there is enough new stuff that it may illuminate even his greatest fans.

The Bad

The Bad: I would like to pause this review for an open letter to those that immediately say “but Jack Kirby” when Stan Lee is mentioned. Guess what they are both dead, and no one cares about it anymore. It isn’t hipster to plead the Kirby every time The Stan is mentioned any more than to exclaim your fandom for Tesla against the big bad Edison. With Great Power both provides insight and glosses over the feud between the two men. But Stan Lee goes out of his way in this documentary to make sure Jack Kirby gets his due.

With Great Power is, however, a hagiography. Stan has barely a bad word for anyone and no-one has a bad word for him. That can get one’s Spidey senses tingling. This logrolling isn’t all bad if you know that going in.

There is one scene where Stan Lee’s wife talks about the death of their infant child and subsequent attempts at adoption. These scenes are powerful, and Stan’s grief and anger are clear forty years later. It is an impressive look behind the curtain, and it makes one realize that we could have used more of this kind of insight.

The Ugly

The Ugly: First of all, there is a reason most biographies are basically in chronological order. It both creates a narrative and prevents confusion when you jump back fifteen years to cover another facet that might be unfamiliar with the audience. With Great Power jumps around like The Hulk.

Do you Remember that trend when every documentary had an overabundance of giant colorful graphics with the camera “swooping” around them? Do you think a 2010 documentary about a super-hero writer avoided this now annoying cliche? Nuff Said.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: A decent documentary with added value and poignancy after the passing of a great man. Excelsior!

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