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Everyone agrees that Stan Lee is larger than life. The face of the Marvel Universe, he has appeared in almost every Marvel Cinematic Universe film. He was even awarded the 2008 American National Medal for the Arts for his contributions to comics and culture.

He introduced the “Marvel Method” in comic books, sharing the driver’s seat with the artists of each book. Lee would give an artist the overall plot of the comic, the artist would draw it, and he would he write in dialogue based on the artists’ interpretation.

He introduced the “Marvel Method” in comic books, sharing the driver’s seat with the artists of each book.

In the 1940s and 1950s, a researcher named Frederick Wertham wrote Seduction of the Innocent, drawing connections between comic books and juvenile delinquency. This led to regulations being imposed on comic books through the Comics Code Authority, which would exist for years beyond. Lee resisted, writing a story in 1971 that ran despite not receiving the CCA’s approval. Taboo at the time, the story showed a character using drugs, and despite the anti-drug message, the regulatory body refused to give it its approval. However, Lee insisted it be run, causing the CCA to change their rules.

Stan’s Soapbox, 1968

Stan Lee has a long history of advocating for social justice. In 1968, he used his editorial column – titled “Stan’s Soapbox” – to stand up against bigotry. After white supremacists stunned the nation in Charlottesville, he released a video saying of Marvel Entertainment and its heroes that “[t]hose stories have room for everyone regardless of their race, gender, religion, or color of their skin. The only things we don’t have room for are hatred, intolerance, and bigotry.”

He passed on November 12, 2018.

Heroes Remembering Their Hero

Many of the Marvel Cinematic University actors came out to remember their fallen hero. Responses from people like Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Jackman, Elizabeth Banks, Ryan Reynolds, Letitia Wright, and Jamie Alexander rang out across social media with words of grateful and exultation. Many ended their posts with Stan Lee’s signature “Excelsior.”

Then, of course, was the outcry from fans. Stan Lee was the face of the franchise, the cute and quirky old man who so cleverly wrote it into his contract that he has to appear in any Marvel movie about a hero he created. He’s appeared in more films now than any of his characters, and rumor has it that he filmed several extra cameos “just in case” of this very circumstance. Fans know to look for him appearing as everything ranging from a security guard to a rejected wedding guest. One never knows where Stan Lee will pop up.

In fact, Stan appeared several times in his own comics:

Fantastic Four Annual No. 3 (1965) - A Farewell to Stan Lee, Our Marvel Hero | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

A Farewell to Stan Lee, Our Marvel Hero | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Since his death, many comic artists – famous or otherwise – have honored this tradition with some work of their own. You can view some of them here

Now what?

In the Marvel Universe, there are many moments that have stunned fans. The death of Captain America. The creation of the Fantastic Four. The discovery of Uncle Ben’s killer. The discovery of Captain America in the ice. The death of Gwen Stacy. Some good, some bad. All wondering, “Okay, what comes next? Where do we go from here?”

Comics remain relevant today, perhaps more than ever. Stan Lee’s legacy is cemented in pretty much every form possible. You can see Spidey swing from building to building on screen, on paper, and in videogames. Hopefully, you didn’t try it yourself dressed as the hero on Halloween. Superpowers not included.

Stan Lee’s legacy is cemented in pretty much every form possible. You can see Spidey swing from building to building on screen, on paper, and in videogames.

Yet, Stan might argue the opposite. Lee also broke new ground by creating a wholly relatable character in Spider-Man. Peter Parker wasn’t just a hero who could swing in and defeat the bad guy with a flick of his wrist, he was also a person who had flaws. He was a teenager, after all. What makes heroes popular now is the fact that they are also us. They are relatable and imperfect.

And so we go. To see the humanity in even our heroes and to fight evil in whatever form in which it manifests itself.

Excelsior!

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