NHL, Stan Lee Create New Generation of Superheroes

The National Hockey League has formed a partnership with legendary comic book author Stan Lee that will involve the creation of a new superhero franchise with the goal of getting a new audience tween boys interested in watching hockey live and on television.

The 87-year old Lee, who over the course of his career co-created such superhero characters as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Daredevil, among others, will create 30 new characters as part of The Guardian Project, one to represent each of the NHL’s teams.

The new superheroes will be loosely based around hockey and the local teams but will not be set in the world of hockey directly. Each Guardian will have special powers representative of each NHL team and city.

The Guardians will be unveiled in a special presentation during the 2011 NHL All-Star Game on January 30 to be televised on Versus.

The Guardian Project will be rolled out first online, but will also have a publishing, mobile, gaming, in-arena and broadcast presence. And will be supported with promotional campaigns, sponsorship activities and merchandise sales.

In addition to Lee, the new Guardian characters were also created and developed by Jake Shapiro and Tony Chargin, evp of creative affairs at Guardian Media Entertainment, the new company responsible for all aspects of The Guardian Project.

“I’ve always believed that every great plan starts with a great story,” Lee said. “In the creation of GME and its unique and unprecedented relationship with the NHL, I truly believe we have the perfect combination from which to launch 30 new superheroes and excite young fans around the globe.”

 “We are in constant pursuit of new ways to engage our fans and to introduce new fans to hockey, and the business of GME does exactly that,” said Brian Jennings, evp, marketing for the NHL.

Sources at the NHL said the deal has been in the making for more than a year.

Lee is scheduled to appear with NHL officials to discuss The Guardian Project in more detail on Friday, Oct. 8 at a panel during New York Comic Con at the Jacob Javits Center.