Stan Lee, the creator of some of the most iconic and well known superheroes, recently passed away on Nov. 12 in Los Angeles, CA. TMZ confirmed on Nov. 27 that heart and respiratory failure were the causes of his death.
According to Wikipedia, Stanley Martin Lieber, born on Dec. 28, 1922 in New York City, had an unexceptional childhood. Raised in Manhattan and the Bronx, Lee was an avid writer and won the New York Herald Tribune’s essay competition three weeks in a row, which only further inspired him to continue to pursue his passion of writing.
After graduating high school, he worked as an assistant at Timely Comics, eventually becoming a comic writer with his first co-creation being the Destroyer, a superhero featured in Mystic Comics. Lee soon became the editor-in-chief of Timely Comics. Lee also served in the U.S. Army beginning in 1942, mostly in the training films division, where he was given the task of writing training films, slogans and manuals. While he served, he also continued to write for Timely Comics through the mail.
After returning from service, Stan Lee married Joan Clayton Boocock in 1947 and had a daughter, Joan Cecila, in 1950. Lee was given the assignment of creating a superhero team by Martin Goodman, a publisher for Marvel Comics. Lee and artist Jack Kirby created many iconic superhero characters, starting with the Fantastic Four. The duo went on to create characters such as the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Spider Man, the X-Men and Doctor Strange. Lee went on to expand the universes of these characters and continued to write and edit the majority of Marvel’s works.
Stan Lee made his characters as human as possible, creating morally gray and flawed representations of humans. He also used his work to comment on the status of the world around him, tackling subjects such as racism and ignorance. Lee stopped writing in 1972, with his final work being Fantastic Four #125. After, he adopted the position of publisher. In 1981, he moved to California to help develop Marvel’s films and television shows.
He slowly became a symbol of Marvel Comics, appearing at conventions and making cameos in the company’s films. Lee stepped down from his work at Marvel in the 90s and founded Purveyors of Wonder (POW!) Entertainment in 2001. During the last two decades of his life, Lee continued to expand and create different characters and properties and to write for many different forms of media. He also founded the Stan Lee Foundation in 2010, which supports education, the arts and literature.
Lee will continue to live on, in the memories of his fans and through his works. Willamette student Nickey Olson (‘19) has been a fan of Lee’s work since childhood and often saw Marvel films with his father. He is drawn to Lee’s work due its characters.
“Stan Lee’s heroes were different. They had flaws. They didn’t necessarily fight because it was the right thing to do, they fought for something. They fought to protect people they care about, for revenge, for their people, and they all had flaws,” said Olson.
After hearing about Lee’s death, Olson was saddened.
“Finding out he had died hit me in a way that other celebrity deaths didn’t. I was incredibly sad. I knew it was going to happen eventually, I just didn’t think it was going to happen so soon,” said Olson.
However, Lee’s death probably will have little effect on the future of Marvel, as the company continued to be successful as Lee was gradually less and less hands-on. With Disney’s acquisition of the company in 2009, there seems to be little stopping Marvel.
Stan Lee left the world with a suite of characters and properties that have and will continue to inspire and bring joy to people.