Stan Lee – his life and his impact

Last Monday, as I’m sure you’ve heard, the world lost the great Stan Lee. He was known to many as the influential co-creator of many of the characters that form a major part of today’s pop-culture world, mainly emanating from the comic-book genre. Although some have come to doubt his influence on the modern-world, dismissing this as the effect of a moment when “adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff”, quoting Bill Maher. However, when your co-creations lead to a $17 billion+ industry, it’s hard to deny that something has left a mark.

So where did it start?

Well, Stan was born on December 28, 1922, in Manhattan, a city featured many times in his work. He came into this world as the son of immigrants living a poor life in New York. His first stints in writing came through the form of his part-time job writing obituaries and short press releases for the National Tuberculosis Centre. He would say that it would be the books and movies of the day that inspired him to focus on writing.

When Comics came into the picture.

It was through his uncle’s help that Lee would join Timely Comics, a relatively new company, that would eventually become what Marvel Comics is today. Starting from little gap-fillers in “Captain America Comics #3” debuting in May 1941. He would later join the Army in early 1942 and would end up serving in the Training Film Division, where he helped creating short films that helped the Army train its new recruits.

The transition into Marvel.

It was in the late 50s that the superhero genre took strength again after a slump. Here, Lee, together with fellow writer Jack Kirby, would create most of their famous characters in the Silver Age of Comics. It was at this time that Lee’s effect would not only be felt in the story writing and creativity at Marvel, but also in public relations. Stan would be proud withthe fact that unlike other publications, fan letters to Marvel were always penned to the writers personally with their first names. This close relationship with the fans would be maintained by Lee till his last days.

A special relationship

This special relationship that he had fostered was key to Lee’s successes. People didn’t look at him as a world-famous rich writer, but more like a friend who could tell good stories. It’s this important reason that nullifies some of the criticisms that have been heard of late, namely what was mentioned here in the article. Lee’s work contributed to create a whole fandom bigger than just marvel itself. It’s effect can be felt in many different genres of modern writing and storytelling. The positivity that came out of his work helped to enrich the outlook with which people looked at modern media, mainly due to his use of it as a tool to promote good.

Those Cameos…

As a special aside, I want to take a look at all those cameos. Appearing in around 20 movies if you just count the current MCU, Lee gave viewers a special gift with his comical capabilities. They were never anything special, just a quick shot of him or some cheesy one-liners, but to fans, they were always special. Everyone who is a Marvel fan would admit, that part of the excitement of a new Marvel was always the expectation of how they would manage to insert Stan in the film in the most farcical way. Thankfully, before he passed, he managed to give us his finally bout, as his cameo for the new Avengers film coming out in 2019 has been confirmed as done. Hopefully, this will be a proper farewell to such a legendary man.


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