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Stan Lee death: 'Excelsior' tributes as iconic Marvel movie creator honoured by stars of his films

Nick Charity

Hollywood stars and celebrities have paid tribute to Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel comics and the brain behind the Avengers, Captain America, Spiderman and Iron Man.

Elon Musk, Ryan Reynolds and British film director Edgar Wright were among those who admired and worked with him to share their memories.

Avengers and Captain America actor Chris Evans said he was one of a kind, adding the writer's catchphrase, "Excelsior!" while Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman said he was "a pioneering force in the superhero universe. I’m proud to have been a small part of his legacy."

Lee was behind countless comic characters which have "inspired generations", said his fans.

He died today aged 95. His death was announced by his daughter JC.

Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr said he "owed it all" to Lee.

"There will never be another Stan Lee," said Evans. "For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy. He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives. Excelsior!!

"Stan Lee was a pioneering force in the superhero universe. I’m proud to have been a small part of his legacy and .... to have helped bring one of his characters to life," said actor Jackman, who played Wolverine in the Marvel X-men series.

Lee's daughter JC Lee confirmed he died after being taken to hospital on Monday, aged 95.

"He felt an obligation to his fans to keep creating," she said in a statement.

"He loved his life and he loved what he did for a living. His family loved him and his fans loved him. He was irreplaceable."

His trademark slogan "Excelsior!" started in the '60s when Lee wrote a monthly column called Stan's Soapbox, in Marvel's Bullpen Bulletins. He ended every column with the heroic motif, and said it had since just become a catchphrase.

Actress Jamie Chung posted on Twitter that it was "an honour" to work with the comic book superstar.

Lee, who was known for making numerous cameo appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was a writer, editor and publisher at Marvel.

He also created or co-created Iron Man, Thor, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil and Ant-Man, as well as numerous other characters which shot to mainstream stardom as Marvel series' were rebooted for numerous movie franchises in recent years.

Representatives from Marvel's long-time rival in the comics world, DC, which created Batman and Superman, also paid their respects to the writer who "changed the way we look at heroes."

As a writer and editor, he was key to the ascension of Marvel into a comic book titan in the 1960s when, in collaboration with artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, he created superheroes who would enthral generations of young readers.

Working with Kirby in 1961, Lee created the modern superhero with the invention of the Fantastic Four.

He went on to create characters including Spider-Man, Hulk, the X-Men and the Avengers with Kirby and Ditko.

Fellow comic book giants also paid their respects to their "hero", including Neil Gaiman and Sin City creator Frank Miller.

"I was first interviewed for Stan Lee's obituary about 20 years ago," said Gaiman, who wrote the Sandman series and various issues for DC and Marvel. "I was happy he defied the reaper and carried on. With Stan gone, an era really does come to an end."

The last 18 months had been turbulent for Lee and he lost his wife Joan in July last year after 69 years of marriage. A series of health scares followed.

Lee had tweeted yesterday to honour fallen troops for America's Veterans Day.