He was known for creating comic book icons such as the X-Men and Thor, but the legendary Stan Lee, who died at the age of 95 yesterday (Nov. 12), also co-created an Indian superhero.
In 2011, Chakra: The Invincible made his debut in a comic book.
The story had a touch of Spider-Man and Iron Man with a desi twist, as Chakra was a teenage tech genius named Raju Rai who inadvertently activated a blue jumpsuit that unleashed the chakras (energy centres) in his body. This suit gave him special powers to keep Mumbai safe.
Created by Lee and Sharad Devarajan, CEO of the India-focused animation company Graphic India, Chakra’s story sparked the hope of a much-needed transformation in the world of comics and superheroes, long dominated by Western characters.
Chakra got his own animated movie in 2013, aired on Cartoon Network in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. The character was bizarrely given an American accent in the English version, which surprised critics, but the film was followed by two sequels.
In 2016, Lee announced that he and Devarajan would be taking Chakra to the big screen in partnership with Phantom Films, an Indian production company behind Bollywood hits such as Lootera, Masaan, and Queen. The live-action film was to be directed by Phantom Films co-founder Vikramaditya Motwane and set to go into production in late 2016-2017. Devarajan had told The Wire that Lee would likely make a cameo, as he’s done in other Marvel superhero movies and TV series.
However, earlier this year, Phantom Films was dissolved, leaving the Chakra movie’s fate up in the air. In the meantime, Graphic India launched a mobile game, Chakra: World Siege, in which the Indian superhero fights his nemesis, Boss Yama, to save the seven wonders of the world. And on YouTube, fans can still catch clips from Cartoon Network in Hindi, English, Tamil, and Telugu.