Remembering the Marvelous Stan Lee
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
I had the honor to meet Stan Lee for photo op at the Edmonton Expo in 2015. He almost didn’t seem real, as he was propped up in a chair — hardly moving or saying a word. Likely, he didn’t even know who was standing next to him.
It felt weird to not say anything to him, so right after the photograph was taken I bent over and thanked him — not just for the photograph, but for everything he’s ever said and everything he’s ever created. He nodded back at me and said, “Thank you,” with a smile on his face.
He probably met hundreds of people that day — each paying $100 for five seconds with the man. But, why? Because he created so many famous comic book characters? Because he has so many cameos in blockbuster films? Because he’s really rich? Likely all of the above and simply because he is … Stan Lee.
Originally, Stanley Martin Lieber, was born in 1922. He eventually changed his name to “Stan Lee” once he began writing Timely Comics in 1939. He also served in the Second World War, domestically as a writer and illustrator.
In the 1960’s Timely Comics changed their name to Marvel Comics and Lee was called upon to help reboot the company. Lee had writing influences like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne — which eventually inspired him to create characters such as The Fantastic Four in 1961. He created the dynamic superhero team with artist and co-creator Jack Kirby, who would eventually help Lee develop almost all of his characters and bring them to life on pages in comic books.
Lee always wanted his characters to seem larger than life, but to also feel relatable to the people reading the comics. These characters were: Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, the X-Men, The Avengers and many more.
In 1972, Lee became editorial director and publisher of Marvel Comics. He tried to hire and keep writers who would help bring his characters and world to life. It was in this era, that Lee helped grow Marvel Comics into a really popular franchise.
Over the years, Lee’s characters frequented the big screens and were often successful. But, they didn’t gain this status until 2002 with the coming of Spider-Man: one of the highest grossing movies of all-time.
Marvel didn’t reached peak popularity in the film industry until the 2008 release of Iron Man. Starring Robert Downey Jr., the film helped start the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which now features 20 blockbuster films with star-studded casts and viewed by hundreds of millions across the globe.
Lee was one of the driving forces behind Marvel Comics’ success.
Lee once 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.”
He created a world to entertain people, but also to teach them lessons. Lee coined the term “With great power comes great responsibility.” He left a legacy of amazing characters that people loved because they taught them so many things and dealt with the same problems everyone faces. Making his characters relatable was important to Lee.
“Just because you have a super power doesn’t mean that everything else in your life has to be good, so I thought it would be more interesting to get people who seemed like real people who had super powers, and that’s all that I was thinking of.”