Learn the History of Superheroes From Stan Lee Himself

A new online course teams the Marvel co-creator with 'Batman' movie producer Michael Uslan.
Photo by Joe Lester

Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee and Batman movie producer Michael Uslan want to teach you about superheroes.

Both gentlemen are part of The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture, a newly announced online course from the Smithsonian Institution and nonprofit online learning initiative EdX, beginning May 5.

The five-week course will look at the origins of the superhero genre as well as the history of the American comic book industry and what it took for superheroes to cross over into mainstream popular culture (and, indeed, dominate it in recent years).

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Stan Lee is well-positioned to talk about the history of the genre, having been one of its key players since the 1960s thanks to his work with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and other artists on the creation of the Marvel Universe as fans know it today. Uslan, meanwhile, has served as a producer on every Batman movie from 1989’s Tim Burton-directed effort onward in addition to writing a number of comic books himself and working on movies like Swamp Thing, Catwoman and The Spirit. Currently, he is a professor at the Indiana University Media School.

“It's a great honor being invited to share my views on the evolution of superheroes and the genre's overall impact across all generations of people,” Lee said in a statement. “Throughout my career, characters have evolved so much from drawings on a page to otherworldly special effects only animation could produce to live action and so much more. I can't wait to dive into these discussions thanks to Smithsonian and EdX.”

Enrollment in the course, which is estimated to require 1-2 hours of commitment per week, is available online now.

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