One Of Stan Lee's Biggest Fans Was A Legend of Cinema

While Stan Lee had many admirers beyond the realm of comics, perhaps the most unexpected would be legendary Italian director Federico Fellini. An icon of world cinema, Fellini is best known for classic films such as La Dolce Vita and 8 ½. As it turns out, he was so enamored with Marvel Comics that he arranged a meeting with Stan and in the process started a lifelong friendship.

The Marvel Age of Comics began in 1961 with the publication of Fantastic Four #1. It was unlike any other superhero comic before it; the characters had depth and had to contend with real world problems on top of fighting super-villains. Other heroes, such as Spider-Man and the Hulk, would soon follow, creating a revolutionary movement in comics. In addition to imparting Marvel characters with real-world sensibilities, there was a heavy streak of pop philosophy running through the line; the trippy and dynamic visuals of artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko perfectly complemented Stan’s stories. Not only did these early Marvel Comics change the field as we know it, they attracted attention from outside comics as well; in 1965, Stan Lee and Marvel Comics met one of their biggest fans: Federico Fellini.


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In a Twitter post, user rob-e recounts the story of how Fellini came to discover Marvel Comics. Fellini, a fan of comics in his native Italy, was visiting New York City in November 1965. While in New York, he fell ill and had to take time away to recuperate and to pass the time, he sent his assistant to fetch him reading material. Knowing of Fellini’s passion for comics, the assistant brought back a stack of Marvel titles and after reading them, Fellini fell in love; among his particular favorites were Spider-Man and the Hulk. Fellini was so taken with Marvel, he arranged a meeting with Stan Lee and the rest of the Marvel Bullpen. Rob-e relates that Fellini arrived at the offices with an entourage and through a translator, had a conversation with Stan about comics. The two became friends after that; Fellini allowed Stan to stay at his villa the next time Stan was in Italy and when Fellini returned for his next visit to New York, he accompanied Stan to a Broadway show.

Fellini's Love of Comic Books Can Be Seen in His Films

As rob-E points out, Fellini’s life and work could have been comic books themselves, so it is no surprise that Fellini would gravitate towards them. Anyone who has seen a Fellini film knows they are full of life and color, much like the Marvel Comics of the era. Yet given Fellini's arthouse sensibilities, gravitating towards Marvel might seem, at first, an odd move, but as stated earlier, the early books were infused with pop philosophy, which pairs well with the heavy philosophical streak that runs through Fellini’s movies. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the two would become friends, but what is even cooler is that it was not a one-off meeting, and the two remained lifelong friends.

The Marvel Comics of the 1960s were edgy and revolutionary, and helped expand the audience like never before. One such fan was Italian auteur Federico Fellini, whose love of Marvel Comics led him to become Stan Lee’s biggest, and most unexpected, fan.

Source: rob-E