On Monday the world lost an architect and titan of modern pop culture. We’d like to share two accounts from contributors remembering Stan Lee and how his work touched their lives.
To say Stan Lee was only a comic writer is an understatement. Stan Lee changed the entire comic book industry, created some of the most iconic characters of all time, and even delivered many hilarious cameos in various shows and films.
In his comics, Stan Lee’s focus wasn’t just on the powers, but instead on what made these larger-than-life characters human. Spider-Man could save the world, but at the end of the day struggle to pay rent. Black Panther could be an avenger, but still needed to maintain his kingdom. Captain America could go blow-for-blow with Red Skull, but still not comprehend what an iPad was. He didn’t just make superheroes, he created characters that we could relate to. Through their journeys of pain, loss, triumph, and even defeat, we were shown the humanity of having being extraordinary without losing what makes them ordinary.
Stan had the power to entertain, and to connect people from all backgrounds and upbringings. He united us through the love, compassion, excitement, and extraordinary ideas, covering each panel of heroes stories. Stan Lee taught us “With great power comes great responsibility,” and in the world today, that statement couldn’t be more true. His comics fought for acceptance, compassion, but most of all that when we assemble together we can accomplish anything. Stan Lee was one of the few celebrities that actively used his platform to speak out against hate and the various issues plaguing our society. To quote a film that gets way too much hate, “You know, I guess one person can make a difference” – Stan Lee (SPIDER-MAN 3). Thank you Stan Lee, you will be missed, but the impact you left will never be forgotten. Excelsior! [Daniel Brian Foster]
I always struggle with these things. It’s really strange to feel like you’ve lost someone who has been a part of your life as far back as you can remember, especially when that person was not a family member or a friend, and had no idea you even existed. The words never come the way they feel like they should, and the fear that whatever combination of words you could possibly dream up may come across as tawdry or, worse, ring hollow is almost paralyzing. And then, when the words finally do come, they always seem to pale in comparison to the more thoughtful and put-together well wishes of all the others whose lives were touched in a similar way. But none of that matters, because the truth is, all of it comes equally from a place of love and admiration. And those words, even if they are profound or evocative, or are from someone who actually knew the man, come from someone who, at least in some way, is just like everyone else. And that, I think, is at the heart of what Marvel has always been about. Even the world’s most powerful heroes still have to deal with life and all of its curveballs. Love, relationships, insecurities, fears, loss, regrets… It doesn’t matter how Amazing, Fantastic, or Uncanny you are, at some point you will be dealt the same. What matters is how you deal with those things.
I’ve mentioned before that comic books helped teach me to read and draw when I was a little kid, but they also imparted me with important life lessons. Uncle Ben taught me, of course, that “With great power comes great responsibility.” And, as with Daredevil, that through focus and determination one could transform a weakness into a strength. Or even that a being of nearly limitless power, such as The Silver Surfer, can experience something like loneliness. Captain America taught me what it means to be steadfast, and to try to always do the right thing. The X-Men made it clear that no one should be hated or feared for being different: it is one’s character that counts. And Professor X, their leader, helped me believe in hope and optimism, and to choose to believe in the goodness of others, even while the world seems intent on destroying those things. And, even though I don’t read all my old comics anymore, I still flip through my collection from time to time to revisit all of those unforgettable characters and storylines—and those lessons. Something I’m sure many countless others do, too. Stan Lee may have passed on, but his legacy will live forever. [Joseph Simpson]