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Stan Lee Originally Had A Different Name For The X-Men

If it weren't for Stan Lee, we never would've had the X-Men, and if Lee had his way, they never would've been called that.

Speaking to fans at Wizard World Nashville (via Comic Book), Lee spoke about creating the iconic superhero team, and he said Martin Goodman, Marvel's publisher at the time, shot down the name he wanted to use.

"I wanted originally to call them The Mutants," Lee said. "And [Goodman] said, 'You can't call them The Mutants.' And I said, 'Why not?' He said, 'Our readers, they aren't that smart.' He had no respect for comic book readers. He said, 'They won't know what a mutant is.' Well, I disagreed with him, but he was the boss, so I had to think of another name. So I went home and I thought and thought and I cam up with the X-Men and I mentioned it to him the next day, and he said, 'That's okay.' And as I walked out of his office, I thought, 'That was very peculiar. If nobody would know what a mutant is, how will anybody know what an X-Man is?' But he had okayed the name and I used it."

Of course, Goodman was a hugely important figure in the history of Marvel Comics. He founded Timely Comics in 1939, which was rebranded as Marvel in 1961. He remained the publisher until 1972, when he was replaced by his son. Shortly after that, Stan Lee succeeded him as president. Goodman died in 1992.

Lee teamed up with legendary comic artist Jack Kirby on the X-Men, which debuted with The X-Men #1 in 1963. The original group consisted of five young mutants: Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Ice-Man, and Marvel Girl (Jean Grey). In subsequent years, the team became a huge part of the Marvel universe and expanded with characters like Wolverine, Storm, and Nightcrawler. 

Meanwhile, there's one A-list actor who would definitely like to play Stan Lee if there's ever a biopic about him.