Paul McCartney’s Tribute to Marvel Villains Inspired a Stan Lee Superhero

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A little like Stan Lee, the legendary Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most recognizable and prolific writers in the history of his medium. From his time in the Beatles writing music with John Lennon to his hugely successful solo career, McCartney has written literally hundreds of songs over the years. An accomplished songwriter draws inspiration from anything and everything, including superhero comics. A song inspired by Marvel Villains that McCartney wrote for his band Wings in the ’70s would lead to a relationship with Marvel creatives that almost made McCartney a superhero himself.

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Paul McCartney has been a lifelong comic book fan, in a 1963 interview with NME he joked his life’s ambition was to appear in his favorite childhood cowboy comic strip, The Dandy. When the dandy printed its final issue nearly 50 years later in 2012, McCartney finally got his wish, not just being portrayed, but leading the cast of characters in a “Hey Jude” chant. McCartney is also shown reading Superman comics instead of sheet music in the 1965 Beatles film, To help! McCartney would eventually share his love of comics with his children, buying them a stack of Marvel comics during a trip to Jamaica. These comics inspired him to write a song, and that song caught the attention of the biggest names to ever work at Marvel.


Related: Ringo Starr’s Life Of The Beatles Will Be Told In A Biographical Comic

“Magneto and Titanium Man”, from Wings’ 1975 album Venus and Mars, is a story song about the two titular villains and the Crimson Dynamo who plan a robbery. The song was on the setlist for Wings’ first world tour, and when Wings performed at the LA Forum, Sir Paul met the legendary Jack Kirby backstage. Kirby presented Sir Paul and his late wife and teammate Linda with an original sketch of the levitating couple by Magneto. That night, McCartney greeted Kirby, the co-creator of Magneto, before performing the song. Images of the villains were projected behind the group alongside paintings by René Magritte and David Hockney. “It’s all artMcCartney remarked in a Rolling Stone interview. The song also inspired a John Romita sketch of Sir Paul as the bass playing Titanium Man, and led to an encounter with the song’s other villain creator, the one and only Stan Lee.


When Stan Lee passed away in 2018, Sir Paul paid tribute online, sharing the story of a meeting the pair had in which they brainstormed an idea for a Hofner bass-wielding superhero. While Sir Paul and Stan Lee’s superhero was never realized, McCartney inspired a fan-favorite Marvel hero with the creation of Rocket Raccoon in 1976. Named after the Western folk ballad “Rocky Raccoon” from the Beatles. white album, Rocket Raccoon was called “Rocky” when he first appeared and several parts of his backstory are direct references to the song. Before the popularity of guardians of the galaxy movies, Rocket was also regularly depicted with a British accent, much like Sir Paul’s.


It’s only fitting that the creators of Marvel and a member of The Beatles, two pop culture madmen who helped define the changing attitudes of 1960s Western society, would eventually find and recognize each other’s brilliance. “Magneto and Titanium Man” is a deep cut, originally released as a B-side, but it sent a message to Marvel creators that Paul McCartney was a real fan. What started as a way to Sir Paul McCartney entertaining with his daughters during long recording sessions ended up inspiring a song that would bring Stan Lee and other big names in their respective fields together to share artistry and mutual appreciation of each other’s work.


Sources: Rolling Stone, Bleeding Cool, Collector Jack Kirby Collector Vol. 1

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