On Monday, November 18, the world lost a legend with the passing of Stanley Martin Lieber, or as most people knew him, Stan Lee. Lee created and co-created some of the most iconic characters who filled the pages of comics and movie screens alike, and helped define pop culture from the 1950’s well into the 21st Century. Some of the characters developed by Mr. Lee include Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Thor, Black Panther, and Iron Man.
Mr. Lee rose from an intern at Timely Publications to become the creative director and driving force behind what eventually became Marvel Comics. Working with equally legendary editors such as Joe Simon, artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and publisher Marin Goodman, this team single handedly created the ‘golden age’ of comics in the 1950s-1960s, and established a whole new way to create characters and tell stories. Mr. Lee was key in the development of the “Marvel Universe” where all the characters lived in the same ‘world’ with normal humans. This was a new yet exciting concept.
Lee’s work has touched millions around the world, whether you are a die hard comic fan or have only seen a Marvel movie or TV show. It was the unique way Mr. Lee’s characters related to the audience that helped them become some of the most important characters ever created. Avid Marvel fan and EBHS sophomore Andrew Petrocelli is one of these people, recounting how Lee “provided me the greatest gift I could ask for, an endless imaginative playground that allowed me a place to escape. These characters he invented even taught me lessons such as the value of standing out and being different.” Indeed, Lee’s timeless characters inspired children, artists, and writers for decades and is a testament to the personalities behind the characters Lee developed. Lee’s work was able to push ideologies that carried on throughout time. He was instrumental in pushing boundaries in the early years of comics, enabling Marvel to develop more realistic and emotional stories, like Spider-Man saving a drug addict or Tony Stark’s (Iron Man) battle with alcoholism. These storylines helped the characters become more relatable and realistic. EBHS sophomore Spencer Longo, notes that he’s “thankful that Stan Lee’s comics were able were able to emblazon the ideologies of humility and compassion into my father’s mind, so he could teach me the same principals. It is truly heartbreaking that such an influential man passed.”
Stan Lee was a creative force of nature, creating some of the most recognizable characters in fiction. His influence on society will be felt forever more as his characters will continue to flood the pages of comics, as well as TV and movie screens. Stan Lee redefined superheroes and is arguably one of the most important creative figures ever. Excelsior!
This article was originally published in the East Brunswick High School newspaper “The Clarion” in November, 2018.