Comic book culture has become an integral part of the lives of millions of people around the world, and one of the most important figures to help make that possible is the man, the myth, the legend… Stan Lee.
Unfortunately, yesterday we tragically lost that legend at the age of 95.
Whether you’re a Marvel fan, a DC fan, or just a fan of comics in general, Stan Lee has undoubtedly played a part in curating that love. Stan helped create so many of the most iconic Marvel characters, such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, Doctor Strange, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Daredevil, The X-Men, and many, many more. He helped transform a struggling comic book company into one of the top two in the business, changing the world at the same time.
And even though Stan was primarily known for his work with Marvel Comics, he did dip his toe into the world of DC a couple of times, from helping to bring us the Amalgam Universe crossovers, recreating some of DC’s biggest characters with the Just Imagine… series, and even making a hilarious cameo in Teen Titans Go! To The Movie. His legacy will live on for generations to come. That is why we at DC Comics News have decided to take a moment to give our thoughts about this legendary man.
Below are some thoughts and memories from members of our staff, including myself, about Stan Lee.
Joshua Raynor (Editor-in-Chief)
Stan Lee is a name that has been synonymous with comics my entire life, but it wasn’t from comics that I first learned his name. It was actually from the movie “Mallrats”. I was 12 when I first saw it, back in 1996 on home video. I was probably too young for that movie, but it was the scene with Stan the Man that stuck with me the most. Then in 2002, I found a VHS copy of “Stan Lee’s Mutants, Monsters, & Marvels”, a documentary with Kevin Smith about Lee’s life and career. I watched that double-cassette VHS so many times, I’m surprised it didn’t burn out.
At that age that I first saw him, I had no idea who the creators of my favorite heroes were, but then, suddenly, I was able to not only put a name to those creations, but also a face to the name. Stan was the only creator for a very long time whose name I actually knew and who I would recognize if I saw him. It caused me to seek out more of his stuff, like The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, and Spider-Man. These characters helped solidify my love of comics at a time when I really needed it.
I will forever be grateful for Stan, as my life, and the lives of millions more have been changed for the better. R.I.P Stan Lee – EXCELSIOR!
Damian Fasciani (Site Owner)
As a life long DC Fan, I always held Stan Lee in high regard for the legacy he built and his contribution to pop culture. He created a world that’s impacted so many lives for such a long period of time, a true creative genius that has built an empire that, as a DC fan, I am a little envious of. That is purely out of respect and I hope his family and friends are happy with the impact he has had on the world and what he leaves for us. He is a true legend! Rest In Peace Stan!
Alex McDonald (Reviewer)
Like the great artists Stan Lee worked with, his style has become so instantly recognizable that everyone knew when they were reading a Stan Lee comic. But unlike those artists, his style was the comic, not just a part of it. He wasn’t just a narrator to our childhood heroes, he was our friend too. And thanks to the comics and characters he’s created, he always will be our friend. Excelsior!
Steve J Ray (Reviewer & Assistant Editor of Dark Knight News)
When I had confidence issues, couldn’t talk to girls, couldn’t finish my homework on time… neither could Spidey. When I got mad, and lashed out but no-one understood that I didn’t mean it… Hulk was going through the same thing. When I felt ugly, alone, separate from the world… the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing showed me that was OK When I was ill, had to stay home, or couldn’t go to school I still had worlds of wonder to roam around in, and galaxies to fly through.
Thanks, Stan. Your imagination fueled mine and my life would have been way, way different without you. Go get ’em, Tiger!
Seth Singleton (Reviewer)
There are a thousand images that enter my mind when I hear the name Stan Lee. Almost every single one is marked by a wiseacre, shit-eating grin that exclaims, “Isn’t this great?!” That was Stan. Every time.
There are no mixed emotions. It’s just loss and sadness now. Later, let them argue about creator and showman. Greater and greatest. I’ll remember his show on The History Channel, searching for the extraordinary walking around and amongst us. The word superhero was never dirty when Stan said it. It was a badge of honor. Like geek or nerd or fan.
Stan said, ” Who cares what they say? I’m one of you, too. I’ll stand beside you and stand up for you when you can’t.” I’ll always be thankful and humbled by his courage and tenacity. I’ll always be grateful for his example. R.I.P. Stan
Matthew Lloyd (Reviewer)
Stan Lee’s bombastic over-the-top personality made him the ideal ambassador for comics to the rest of the world, but it was his impact on the medium which will be his legacy. In the early 1960’s at struggling Marvel Comics, he believed that comics could be more than mindless entertainment for kids. By introducing characters with real world problems and by giving them distinctive personalities, he changed comics permanently. This had been tried before on a smaller scale elsewhere, but this time it stuck. And comics have never looked back. R.I.P. Stan.
Jason Larouche (News Writer & Reviewer)
Clarence from “It’s A Wonderful Life” said it best: Each man’s life touches so many others. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?
That’s who Stan Lee was. He was the George Bailey of our lives, only cooler. Cooler because he gave us some of the most relatable superheroes who touched something in all of us. I first knew Stan through his voice, narrating “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” and “The Incredible Hulk” cartoons on NBC. Years later, I had the honor of meeting Stan on one of his few trips to Canada. While I regret not shaking his hand, I felt privileged to share a photo and a fist bump.
Later that night, I was lucky enough to show him one of my sketches. That’s something else I owe him for, besides giving me a character – Spider-Man – who became the fictional big brother whose example kept me out of trouble. “How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way,” co-written by both Stan and artist John Buscema, was one of my first instructional resources in visual arts. My mother may have started my path as a comic collector, and Dad later bought the how-to book for me, but it was Stan that forged that path and made it bright enough to be noticed.
The comic book industry wouldn’t be what it is today without Stan, and it will certainly not be the same without him. His self-deprecating humor and brilliant creativity entertained generations of fans who have grown to become writers, artists, actors and filmmakers based on that inspiration. Stan Lee’s legacy is on the level of legendary just by being himself. He inspired me by writing for himself. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without Spider-Man. I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without Stan and John’s book. Saying Stan gave me a hero isn’t enough; Stan WAS my hero, bottom line.
R.I.P. Stan. Thanks for the memories, the photo, and the first bump.
Cameron Tevis (News Writer & Reviewer)
I sit here after hearing the news about Stan Lee’s passing. At first, I rationalized it, saying to myself, I saw this coming. After all, I recently saw him at a Convention and saw how fragile he looked. But I didn’t get emotional. Then I went on with my day as usual. And slowly the dismissal and denial began to fade away.
I began to remember my childhood. It was a horrible childhood, full of poverty and neglect. To make things worse, I was also a very thin kid with big ears, so I found myself teased quite a bit. I didn’t have anyone to raise me and tell me how to deal with things like that. My mom was an alcoholic that took my sister in the divorce and moved to another state. My father worked all night and slept the entire time I was home from school, so I was alone all the time. It was such a filthy and poor environment that I know without a doubt, CPS would’ve taken me away without a second thought had they known the situation. But I wasn’t miserable. Far from it, thanks to Stan Lee.
While other kids found their place in sports, or other things, I found my true self when I discovered comics. At the time, Spider-Man was in the news because he was getting an exciting and new black costume, which just happened to be alive. Today we know it is actually an evil symbiote which would later become Venom. But at the time it was just a really cool new look that drew me over using my lunch money to buy my first comic. Spider-Man spoke to me, immediately. Peter Parker was a nerdy kid who grew up poor and got picked on a lot. He was a smart kid who just never seemed to catch a break. I went back and read issues from before I was even alive and for me, when Spider-Man got his powers, it was as if I was getting powers. I found something that made me feel less alone. Something I could dive into and explore.
The more I got into Spider-Man, the more I got into comics and the more wonders I discovered in the Marvel universe. Practically everything I was discovering had Stan Lee’s fingerprints on them.
This man’s creations helped raise me. They taught me a moral code when no one else did. They taught me right from wrong, good and evil… and most important of all, how to be creative. That creativity has been a huge part of my life and I owe much of it to Stan Lee.
To many, all they know about Stan Lee is that he cameos in the Marvel movies and that he played a huge part in their creation. But there is so much more to Stan Lee than a cameo. He inspired generations of kids with relatable characters, he revolutionized an entire industry, and for other kids like me, he let us know we weren’t alone. He let us know we can overcome any adversity and become something great.
R.I.P. Stan Lee… thank you for everything, you will be greatly missed. Excelsior!
Joseph Marcas (News Writer)
Like so many people, I never met Stan Lee in person. I never got an autograph from him nor did I ever get a photo taken standing next to him. The closest I ever got to him was to see him at a panel at my first Comic Con in San Diego in 2017. I managed to sneak into the panel and quickly find a seat after darting across the room away from some of the ushers. I didn’t sit very close to him but I could see him and hear him pretty well. Most importantly, however, I count myself lucky that I got to share a room with him and live in a time in human history where his creations were everywhere.
To be honest though, I really didn’t need to be in the same room as Stan because, quite frankly, I was already close to him through his creations. Having been a comic book reader since I was a kid, I quickly became a fan of the work and characters that Stan had created. You know those characters already: Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Dr. Strange, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Spider-Man, and my personal favorite, The X-men. Characters that have gone on to make billions upon billions of dollars at the box office and have cemented themselves as part of the American mythology that will live on long after we are all gone.
Like many great minds in history that have created amazing works of art, it is difficult to process the fact that they were not only so talented, but prolific at the same time. How is it possible that one man could create all those characters when so many are currently trying to create one? Perhaps it was God-given talent? Or just hard work layered on top by the lighting strike of opportunity? The easy answer would be to say both but I have trouble saying that with apprehension of diminishing what Stan accomplished. It has to be more complex than that right?
Or maybe it isn’t so hard to believe. Take for example the story of how he approached his editor about creating his most beloved character: Spider-Man. Stan would go to his editor with the idea of a teenage kid, who gets bit by a radioactive spider, gets his powers but yet has a ton of personal problems in his life. Here is a hero who has trouble getting a job, getting the girl, and caring for his family. A hero who gets picked on at school; who gets laughed at by the jocks and the girls and still holds firmly to his love of science.
The editor thought it was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. First he thought, and I am paraphrasing here, that no one likes spiders so you can’t have a hero based on such terrifying creatures. Second, teenagers can’t be heroes. They can be sidekicks but not the main hero. And third, heroes can’t have problems…they’re heroes! Nothing should be wrong with heroes because they have it all already. They’re strong; they’re smart; they’re handsome. People won’t like heroes with flaws!
But Stan knew better. He really did. In a world of Supermen and Dark Knights, here was a hero who the average comic book reader could relate to. Rather than being inspirational like Superman or aspirational like Batman, here was a hero you quite simply ‘got’. How many of us have struggled to pay rent, or not gotten that date, or just simply felt that we were more than what the world thought we were? Stan understood. He understood us and in creating Spider-Man gave us a character who would understand us if he had a chance to meet us in person.
Most people will probably remember Stan as the man who had all those cameos in all those movies (he even did a cameo lampooning himself in the Teen Titans Go! movie). Though those cameos are great, Stan’s real monument will be those characters he created and more importantly, the memories he left with everyone he interacted with.
Many people outside of the industry probably won’t know this about Stan but he was actually good friends with one of his competitors: Batman co-creator Bob Kane, and the two could not be more different. Kane would be known for being a real-life version of Bruce Wayne by living an affluent life. He would dress well, pursue women and remind people constantly that he was the creator of Batman. In contrast, Stan was a little bit more subdued. Though he always enjoyed a good party and people, he never felt as though he needed to tell anyone about his work.
In one of his most famous quotes, Stan was somewhat embarrassed by his work in the beginning. Here’s what he said in an interview with the Washington Post: “I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.”
Truly a man with great perspective.
Some of you may ask why Stan’s most famous quote is one word: “Excelsior!” Well, in a Playboy interview Stan had this to say: “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.”
And now Stan has left this mortal plane upward and onward to greater glory. Nuff said.
Rest In Peace Stan. Your legacy will live on forever in the hearts and minds of the millions you have reached, and the millions your work will continue to reach. EXCELSIOR!
Please feel free to share your memories of Stan Lee with us in the comments below. Let’s forever keep his memory alive!