On Nov. 12, Stan Lee, the primary creator of Marvel Comic universe, passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center located in Los Angeles. Having suffered from pneumonia for several months, Lee was rushed to the hospital for the second time – after the first time in February – for his worsening health conditions, and eventually passed away at the age of 95. The news of Lee’s sudden death not only brought mixed responses, including devastation and shock, to his fans, but also drew renewed attention to the accomplishments he made throughout the years as the leader of one of the most dominant comic industries.
“When I first heard that Stan Lee passed away, I was very surprised,” said Jaeho Hwang (11), Marvel Comics fan. “He was always so lively when he came out as a cameo for Marvel movies like Spiderman, so I thought that he would live longer. As for now, I’m a little worried about the future of Marvel Comics since Stan Lee, probably the only person who truly knew all the Marvel characters by heart, is unfortunately gone.”
Lee began his career nearly 80 years ago in Timely Comics, a group of corporations that would eventually grow into Marvel Comics. After creating Marvel, Lee received a few suggestions from both his publisher Martin Goodman and his wife to come up with a new, unique team of superheroes. Receiving such advice, he decided to diverge from typical portrayals of superheroes as idealistically perfect people when creating his characters, introducing his characters as more complex and realistic beings that could struggle through common problems like bad temper and vanity. For instance, before becoming a supersoldier, Captain America is portrayed in the beginning as an ordinary person called Steve Rogers who struggles to join the military due to his small stature. Moreover, before gaining his superpowers, Spiderman is introduced to the audience as a bookish student who is unpopular and isolated from his peers. While a few traditionalists were critical of such changes, the new representation of superheroes overall received immense praise for making the protagonist of Lee’s comics more relatable to young individuals facing social pressures.
“During his career, Stan Lee created some of the most iconic characters that really shaped how young kids – of all genders and color – see themselves,” said Minyoung Huh (11), fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “I really appreciate the fact that the comic industry has strived to promote representation in their comics and is clear when sending important, meaningful messages regarding the importance of accepting all identities to its audience. Thanks to such efforts made by Marvel, superheroes can now help children view themselves in a more positive light.”
While Lee made many successful accomplishments throughout his career, he faced several hardships along the way as well, especially in the more recent years. He was not only accused of sexual misconduct several times, but was also charged with a $1 billion lawsuit against his former company POW! Entertainment after his wife passed away. Yet, Lee overcame such hardships to continue creating new superheroes and publishing high quality work for his fans until his recent death. In fact, Lee’s legacy of comics and all of the works he created throughout his whole career still continues to entertain countless people and remind them of the importance of representation in comics.
“Throughout all my years as a student in elementary to high school, I have always been a devoted collector of Spiderman comic books; in fact, I still have hundreds of them stored back,” said Michael Ganus, band director and ardent Marvel fan. “As a true admirer of Marvel, I think Stan Lee definitely left behind a huge legacy. Of course, many didn’t recognize Lee and his creations until Marvel comics made the leap to the big screen and released its first “Avengers” movie. Yet, he nevertheless was able to inspire a whole new generation of kids to go into artwork and writing and become more imaginative individuals, which indicates to me that Marvel comics will stay alive and continuously spark among young generations.”
As a successful writer, editor, Hollywood executive, publisher, and promoter of his company and himself, Lee played a key role in what is referred to as Marvel Comic’s silver age. Despite the fact that Lee passed away, the legacy he left behind at Marvel Comics with the superhero adventures he introduced to avid comic fans will forever be cherished.