20. The Silver Surfer
The Silver Surfer was never supposed to be the major villain he eventually became. He debuted in Fantastic Four #48 thanks to Jack Kirby. Technically, the credit does go to Kirby’s artwork, but it was all based on an initial idea between artist and writer.
By the time of creating Fantastic Four #48, the two had developed the “Marvel Method.” They would both discuss a plot first, with Kirby drawing and Lee adding in the dialogue and details. So, it was a surprise to find a nut on a surfboard.
It turns out that the antagonist of the episode was a god-like cosmic predator from the Galactus planets. Kirby was fed up of drawing spaceships, so he drew a surfboard instead, as you do! Naturally, Lee was as skeptic as any but he ran with it and helped to flesh out this unique and unusual character.
And there came the Silver Surfer. He would later go from being a villain to a protagonist, with his characterization and backstory developing over a series of issues. Now he’s one of the most infamous villains/protagonists of the Fantastic Four. He has also made his way into The Defenders and Thor series of comics and had also been the antagonist in one of the Fantastic Four movies back in 2007.
While he wasn’t initially created by Lee, the Marvel mastermind certainly had a role to play. After all, he could have completely refused to do the dialogue and help flesh out the story. Yet, he trusted his partner and they created a memorable protagonist-antagonist with a funny story to remember.