By Julia Santos and Gian Ellis-Gannell
As you may have seen in the news, comic legend Stan Lee recently passed away on the 12th of November 2018 at age 95. A revolutionary writer, Lee pioneered pop culture as we know it today.
Stan Lee was born on December 28th 1922 as Stanley Lieber, which he shortened to Stan Lee later when he began writing. Ironically, this choice was made so that his friends, who were doctors and architects, would not notice his name on 'meaningless' comics.
He first began at Timely Comics (the company that would later become Marvel Comics) in 1939 completing menial tasks such as filling ink-pots instead of writing, but later made his comic book debut with “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge”. Steadily, the comics he wrote became more and more popular until the second world war- when he enlisted.
Always an honourable man, during WWII it is a little known fact that he signed up to the American Army, and was later one of only nine people in all of the country to have the official military title of 'playwright' after his talents were recognised. He created posters reassuring the American public of their success in the war and encouraging them to sign up for the Armed Forces.
After this time, he returned to Timey Comics and is most notable for helping to create many Marvel characters such as Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor and the Fantastic Four. He also helped write many early Marvel comics with other creators such as Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. His comics were distinctly different, as instead of writing about the typical, perfect superheroes of the time, he wrote about real people. Lee created heroes with sickness, insecurities and family issues, making them more realistic, relatable, and genuinely powerful role models. He even developed a motivating catchphrase of his own when writing his monthly column “Stan’s Soapbox” in 1960s. He signed off every column with “Excelsior”.
“You know, my motto is 'Excelsior.' That's an old word that means 'upward and onward to greater glory.' It's on the seal of the state of New York. Keep moving forward, and if it's time to go, it's time. Nothing lasts forever.” - Stan Lee
In more recent years he has helped produce many Marvel movies and TV shows. Stan Lee’s last comic book project before he passed was a webcomic called “Backchannel”.
You may also recognise Stan Lee from his numerous cameos in many Marvel movies and TV shows. Here is a compilation of some of his cameos throughout his lifetime:
During one of these cameo appearances in Spider-man 3, Stan Lee as his character commented, "You know, I guess one person really can make a difference." This sentiment truly applies to the life of Mr Lee, as he single handedly transformed the perfect, emotionless superhero archetype into something much more real. He created real, brave people and inspired his readers by giving them the confidence to not escape their issues, but to face them head on.
When news of Stan Lee's death broke out, dozens if not hundreds of those who worked with Lee over the years payed tribute to the man who created many of their 'universes' through series such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers.
Tom Holland, the most recent actor playing Spiderman wrote on his social media
“How many millions of us are indebted to this guy, none more so than me," adding "The father of Marvel has made so many people so incredibly happy.What a life and what a thing to have achieved. Rest in peace Stan.”
Chris Evans contributed "There will never be another Stan Lee. For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy. He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives."
As two people who have been Marvel fans for several years, it was devastating to see the world lose an incredibly creative mind, especially one who helped create the characters that brought some of our fondest memories. Stan Lee provided comfort, happiness and hope for decades through his work. The impact he has left on millions of people through his work is undeniable, and the inspiration he gave us all is truly admirable. He was, as so many actors within his universe have stated, and by his own definition, a hero- never losing his sharp wit, humour, and passion for inspiring people to be better. He will be missed.
“Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them – even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.” - Stan Lee