How One Man Made a Big Difference
By: George Burkert
“You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Nuff said.”
This quote, said by Stan Lee in “Spider-Man 3” in one of his famous Marvel cameos, was what he lived by, making a difference in many people’s lives. Lee passed away on November 12, 2018, at the age of 95.
Born December 28, 1922, in Manhattan, New York, Lee was best known as the creator of many Marvel heroes, like Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Black Panther and many more.
At the time Lee created these heroes, it was unpopular to have flawed superheroes, but Lee still wanted to make his characters flawed and more relatable to the readers.
Lee made his first comic book in 1941, which was Captain America Comics issue 3 titled “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge”. In 1942, Lee served in the U.S Army until the end of World War II, where he worked on writing manuals, training films, and cartooning.
Lee’s most popular character, Spider-Man, made his debut in Amazing Fantasy issue 15 back in 1962. Since then, the character has become one of the most popular superheroes of all time, having many animated series, movies, and video games.
During his later years, Lee was known for appearing in Marvel films, from “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” to the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”.
In most of his cameos, Lee would do something hilarious, whether it was not paying attention to a fight between Spider-Man and the Lizard in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” getting drunk at a party in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” or mispronouncing Tony Stark’s name in “Captain America: Civil War”.
Lee would also do voice work in cartoons and video games. In the last episode of “Spider-Man: The Animated Series,” Lee voiced himself actually meeting Spider-Man and narrated in some of the “Spider-Man” video games.
Lee’s creations have impacted pop culture in literature, film, and television. If it wasn’t for Lee, Marvel may not have happened, or be as successful as it is and continues to be, possibly not giving fans the amazing heroes as well as movies about these characters.
Lee created a universe that anyone, whether they were a child, teenager, or adult, could escape into to get away from the stress of the real world.
His characters would show people that they were not alone when it came to issues like balancing life, dealing with bigotry, drug problems, and other issues people deal with in real life.
Even though Lee’s stories and characters are fiction, they taught important life lessons that people use in everyday life.
For example, “Spider-Man” taught people “with great power comes great responsibility” and “X-Men” taught people it was okay to be different.
Lee always appreciated and cared for the fans as well, sending videos to them on his social media accounts. Lee often appeared at Comic Cons to meet fans and sign autographs.
Lee was known for other things outside comic books. In 2010, the Stan Lee Foundation was formed, supporting programs to improve literacy resources and promote diversity, national literacy, culture, and arts.
Lee would use his platform to speak out against racism and bigotry. In 1968, Lee wrote a column calling out racism, saying the best way to fight against racism is by exposing it.
In 2017, Lee sent out a video on his social media accounts saying Marvel will always have stories for everyone, that racism and bigotry have no place in Marvel, and that everyone is part of the Marvel family.
The last couple of years have not been easy for Lee. On July 6, 2017, his wife of 69 years Joan Lee past away due to a stroke.
This past year, health concerns were leaked out about Stan Lee, revealing to have pneumonia after being rushed to the hospital back in February, along with rumors of elder abuse. Lee would downplay these rumors in videos, reassuring fans everything is well and still making appearances at film premieres for Marvel movies.
In his final video, Lee talked about how much he loved his fans. According to Marvel Studios, Lee filmed his cameo for the highly anticipated “Avengers 4” coming out May 2019.
Comic book writers old and new continue to feel inspired by Lee’s work, continuing to write stories about Lee’s heroes. Some would even say he’s up there with the best writers of all time.
As fans continue to show their respect for Lee, they will always love the universe he created. Marvel continues to grow with their comics, movies, cartoons, live-action shows and video games and will continue to honor Lee’s legacy, never forgetting him.
As Lee would say, “Excelsior!”