Joan Boocock Lee, the true inspiration behind Mary Jane and Stan Lee’s work

behind the creation of “Spider-Man” and the characters that accompany the arachnid, there is an unbeatable love story of its creator, Stan Lee, with his wife of 69 years, Joan Boocock Lee. It all started many, many years ago, when after serving in the United States Army during World War II, he returned to New York to work for Timely Comics, a precursor to Marvel Comics.

According to some international media, when Stan Lee he wasn’t busy thinking of plot lines and fast-paced action, he would pull out a sketch pad and draw a picture of the woman he planned to marry one day. He without imagining that his creation existed in real life and he was closer than he thought.

Lee used to tell this story in meetings and interviews, sometimes varying his versions, but it was over lunch in Hollywood that Father Willy Raymond, president of Holy Cross Family Ministries, heard him tell the story of his wife Joan and how He met.

Stan Lee making the Spider-Man gesture with his hands (Photo: GTRESONLINE | ATLAS)
Stan Lee making the Spider-Man gesture with his hands (Photo: GTRESONLINE | ATLAS)


The comic book writer recounted his post-war habit: drawing the woman of his dreams, with vibrant red hair, bright eyes and full lips. She worked on it every day, making small improvements to her face. It was in 1947 when his best friend saw the drawing and told him that this woman existed. “I know where he lives. He is a hat model”he told an incredulous Lee. “There, before me, was the most beautiful creature on God’s earth”he told the three men over lunch. “Then when she opened her mouth and spoke in a melodious British accent, which I loved, the first words out of my mouth were, ‘I’m going to marry you.'”he added.

The love story had some complications

The love story between Joan Boocock Lee and Stan Lee It started out a bit bumpy, to say the least. And it is that the woman at that time was married. She later in an interview she admitted that her first marriage was a “big mistake” and that she was ready for divorce when Lee proposed to her.

But that was not the only problem, because Joan had other suitors who had made it clear that they wanted to marry her once she was separated. However, Lee had a plan: when the woman flew to Reno for the divorce, and he was there. An hour after signing the papers, they were married in a ceremony officiated by the same judge who granted the divorce. The couple lasted 6 years married, until Joan’s death at 93 in 2017. Two years later, Lee also died.

An image of the past: Joan Boocock Lee and Stan Lee as young (Photo: Reuters)
An image of the past: Joan Boocock Lee and Stan Lee as young (Photo: Reuters)


Joanie was the inspiration for Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker’s first love in the “Spider-Man” saga. But not only, but he managed to persuade Stan Lee to keep him in the comics business.

In 1961, Lee was about to quit his job. He didn’t have a good connection with his publisher, Martin Goodman, who said his plays didn’t have much action. He, of course, preferred the witty jokes and engaging characters in his comics. But it was Joan Boocock Lee who pushed him to continue.

“Why don’t you make a book the way you’d like to make it?” Lee recalled his beloved telling him. “The worst that can happen is that I fire you, but you want to quit anyway. At least you’ll have gotten it out of your system.”, he added. So Lee did exactly that.

Stan Lee worked with freelance artist Jack Kirby to create the Fantastic Four comic. With that, the Marvel Universe was booming. Both produced new titles. “Man of Steel”, “The Incredible Hulk”, “Thor”. The list kept growing. “[Joan] he gave me the best advice in the world,” Lee recalled in an interview. “She is responsible for my universe”he confessed.

Joan Boocock Lee and Stan Lee (Photo: AP)
Joan Boocock Lee and Stan Lee (Photo: AP)
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