Yesterday, we lost one of the most influential men in the modern world of art and entertainment. Stan Lee was a creative mind with a legacy like few others. But he wasn’t just an artist, he was a truly beautiful human being. Here’s what he meant to me.
Long before I knew who Stan Lee was, I had spent years as a fan of Spider-Man. Growing up, the web-slinger was one of my favorite characters across any fictional world. I watched the animated TV series, read the original comics, bought action figures, trading cards, and lost my mind when the first movie was announced. I couldn’t get enough of Spider-Man and the universe that Stan had built through writing the comics.
I think what resonated so deeply with me was how human and relatable Spider-Man was, especially through Peter Parker. Sure, as a kid, I thought Spider-Man was “cool” and “awesome” and all that. But when I look much deeper, it was the relatability of Stan’s characters and how genuine they were (like Spider-Man) that won me over and kept me interested as I grew up. Spider-Man was funny and heroic, but also insecure. He was strong, but also flawed and even broken at times.
Stan’s characters weren’t perfect, but they still tried to do the right thing. They didn’t always succeed but they tried to make the world a better place. They struggled with identity, love, loss, relationships, work, discrimination, hate, issues of morality, and more, just like real people. Iron Man, Black Panther, the X-Men, and all the others were, at their very core, human. They had superpowers and could do amazing things but that wasn’t really the point, not for me. In a world with so much darkness, these superheroes were a light in my world.
Stan Lee is one of the few people I look up to as a writer. I don’t like the idea of idolizing other people or giving them more praise than they’re due, but I think Stan deserves my praise; without him, I don’t know where I’d be. I owe so much of my passions and writing style to Stan. His stories helped me get through some of the hardest moments in my life.
Stan’s influence across all types of media can’t be ignored. His characters dominate the box office every year and actors’ careers have been made because of them. I may not have gotten into video games and writing about them in the same way if it wasn’t for his work.
One of my top three video games is even based on the Spider-Man comics: Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation 4, which came out in 2018. We got to play the most fully realized version of his beloved character this year, the year Stan passed away. Avengers: Infinity War and the third season of Daredevil on Netflix also came out this year. Even if you didn’t know about him, he’s responsible for some of the most popular entertainment of the past few years.
He lived a long, productive life and although I knew it was coming soon, it still hurts to lose one of my biggest heroes. He spoke to so many people, people he never even met in person. I had the honor to see him at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con a few years ago and I was shocked at how much energy and positivity he brought to the room. He brought so much happiness to so many lives.
I will always be indebted to Stan Lee for his impact on my life. I wish his family the best and will always be inspired by his creations. Goodbye, dear friend.
Word player, note manipulator, and logic breaker. My favorite game is The Last of Us. I’ll argue with you about it all day. Try me. “To the edge of the universe and back, endure and survive…”