Though Stan Lee has passed, his legacy will always remain. Grief and gratitude floods the world as we remember the gift he gave us through the Marvel Comics. Three MOVE columnists share the effect Stan Lee had on their lives and the way his characters will continue to inspire and challenge us.
Losing Stan Lee will never take away the novelty of the universe he shared with us for decades. The characters and stories of Marvel stand alone to other superhero narratives because Stan Lee did not allow the concept of having supernatural powers to negate the humanity and realistic conflict every character faced — loyalty and betrayal. Even concepts such as overpopulation and systematic racism are dilemmas that Lee unapologetically incorporates into his stories. And what’s more? The stories do not have perfect resolutions, just as these issues that we are faced with everyday do not have an easy fix.
Thanos’ (“Avengers: Infinity War”) decision to eradicate half of the universe’s population, though a solution that works, does not take place without causing him grief. T’Challa’s (“Black Panther”) decision to keep the technological benefits of Wakanda exclusive to his people is something he at first claims to be completely sound, but must eventually renounce as a misguided idea - even though it was upheld by the late father he adores so much.
These characters, while classified as “supers,” are completely human in their desire to do the right thing and their inevitable imperfection in actually doing what is best for everyone. Being faced with heroes like these assures us that while we embark to make changes and be the heroes of our own stories, we are bound to get things wrong and misunderstand where our intentions might lead us. However, that will never stop us from being super.
Thank you, Stan Lee, for inspiring the heroes inside all of us, without holding us to a standard of complete perfection. I have full faith that Marvel will continue to challenge us to be heroes by continuing to produce realistic and accessible narratives meant to embolden and inspire. Flaws and all, we can all fight for what we believe in, learning and growing in the process.
When I think of comics I automatically think of Stan Lee, the creator of heroes such as the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the Uncanny X-Men, the Invincible Iron Man and of course the Amazing Spider-Man. Lee was the man who ignited the silver age of comic books in the 1960s and made his name synonymous to the comic publishing company, Marvel Comics.
I think what connected us all to Lee's legacy was how he made his heroes off in the beginning as common regular day people. Through Lee’s eyes and tinted sunglasses, anyone could be super as long as they used their powers for good and to make a positive effect on the world.
I would be one among millions of Americans to say that Spider-Man is my all-time favorite hero of the Marvel gallery of superheroes. Spidey was always a favorite because I found his secret identity of Peter Parker relatable. As a journalist, I always laughed at the slander spoken and libel written by J. Jonah Jameson, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Bugle.
Even though Lee's passing will be an impact on the world for his contributions to our pop culture, his legacy will last forever. During the Civil Rights Movement of the ‘60s, Lee once wrote in the opinion section in his comics, “Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today.” Lee said during one of his soapbox entries, “Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance.” Lee fought against discrimination and the oppressed in the comics such as Black Panther and the X-Men, who he co-wrote with comic legend, Jack Kirby.
Every day, we must become our own heroes and point out the flaws in this society. One simply does not get things done by pointing out the obvious — they must find the strength within themselves to make the difference. That’s what Lee would have wanted us to do. He united us as a whole and it never mattered if you were of a different race, part of a different political party or lived a different lifestyle — we were all engaged in what Lee and his writers at Marvel had to say through the colorful pages. Lee was a hero for all the people.
Stan Lee’s most well-known creations are all about putting the human into super-human. One of his creations has never really gotten a fair chance in the spotlight — The Fantastic Four were originally created as a response to DC Comics’ “Justice League of America.” Lee was given the task of creating his own super-team. Lee did not want to create a group of cookie-cutter superheroes — he wanted to create a family where each member had their faults, saying, “Inside their colorful, costumed booties they'd still have feet of clay.”
When “Fantastic Four” debuted in 1961, it was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. The characters within were flawed and relatable — there was Ben Grimm, the short-tempered Thing, Johnny Storm, the hot-headed (pun fully intended) Human Torch, Sue Storm, the sometimes-too-nice Invisible Woman and Reed Richards, the smart and arrogant Mr. Fantastic. These characters frequently clashed with one another. At the end of the day, they were still a family that went on fantastic adventures and saved people.
This is what I believe Lee’s work to be all about. He highlighted the hero in all of us. He wrote stories about people who, however flawed they might be, saved the day. Heroes didn’t have to be gods or literal aliens. Lee showed us that a hero can be anyone that does the right thing.
To this day, any new Marvel hero radiates with the ideals of Lee’s work. A perfect example is Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) — a young Pakistani-American hero, created in late 2013. She’s a high-school aged superhero fan-girl who becomes one herself after an accident. Her stories revolve around a multitude of issues ranging from typical coming of age drama to keeping her identity a secret from her strict parents. This is only one of numerous examples from recent years. If this is any indication, then Lee’s memory and all that his writing stood for will be with Marvel and its audience forever.
Edited by Siena DeBolt | firstname.lastname@example.org