The world’s highest grossing film star was not even an actor, yet his films made more money than superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp.
When we say the term ‘world’s biggest film star’, names like Tom Cruise, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr and even Shah Rukh Khan or Rajinikanth come to mind. These are cine icons whose films have transcended geographical boundaries and who have minted loads of money at the box office as well. But if box office alone is the parameter for judging success, then there is one ‘movie star’ who has them all beat. This person, who was not even a professional actor, appeared in films that made more money than any other actor in history.
The world’s highest grossing film star is…
Cartoonist and comic book writer Stan Lee holds the distinction of being the most successful and highest grossing actor in cinema history. The late comic book legend appeared in cameos in about 50 films over the course of his career, most of which were based on his creations for Marvel Comics. These 50 films, half of which are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, grossed over $30.60 billion (Rs 25,00,000 crore) at the box office, more than any other actor in history. If one only looks at films where actors have done lead roles, then the honour goes to Scarlett Johansson, whose films have grossed $14.56 billion (Rs 12,00,000 crore) at the global box office.
Stan Lee’s film career
Stan Lee first appeared in a film in 1989 – The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. After a cameo appearance in Mallrats, he came back to Marvel films with bit roles in hits like X-Men, Spider-Man, and Hulk, along with a cameo in The Princess Diaries 2. After 2008, he almost exclusively appeared in MCU films starting with Iron Man. His final film appearance came posthumously in Avengers: Endgame, which released in 2019. Out of respect for him, Marvel Studios enacted a new policy following his death that forbids cameos by Lee in new films by using archive footage of him.
Stan Lee’s work for Marvel Comics
Regarded as one of the most influential pop culture figures of the 20th century, Stan Lee worked for Marvel Comics (including its predecessor Timely Comics) for over seven decades starting the 1940s. He is the co-creator of several iconic comic characters like the X-Men, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Ant-Man, Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Black Widow among others.