Stan Lee created the Marvel Universe. He gave us Spider Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, and many others. He empowered them to save Earth-616, Earth-1610, and even Earth 19999 several times, turned them on each other, and more importantly, brought the world together through their struggle.
At 95 years old, conic visionary and World War II veteran Stan Lee has passed away.
Lee enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 after he heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. According to DoD Live, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II until the Japanese offered their unconditional surrender in 1945. In 2018, he was inducted into the Signal Corps Regimental Association aand given an honorary membership into the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, by service members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
In the seven and a half decades between those two dates, Lee changed the world through hundreds of thousands of comic books, sometimes writing an entire book a day for 10 straight years, the AP reports.
As other superheroes were obsessed with fighting crime in each panel, Lee’s creations offered much more, though just paper and ink. Spiderman represented the tumultuous environment 60s youth had inherited from their parents, likely more familiar with Superman’s truth, justice, and the American Way.
Characters like the Silver Surfer and the Incredible Hulk welded immeasurable power, but were likewise plagued with self-doubt and existentialist agony.
Anti-heroes Iron Man and Magneto drew their own legions of fans, though, at least for Mr. Stark, their inception was based on a bet that Lee could get his readers to warm up to someone they were categorically opposed to from the beginning.
Marvel Comics became a mainstay of American culture in the 1960s, and weaved itself in the form of superhuman allegory and the fight for freedom as decades passed. The world has seen superheroes come and go. The work of Thanos notwithstanding, those who have stuck around are largely the fault of Lee.
“I think everybody loves things that are bigger than life. … I think of them as fairy tales for grown-ups,” Lee told The Associated Press in 2006. “We all grew up with giants and ogres and witches. Well, you get a little bit older and you’re too old to read fairy tales. But I don’t think you ever outgrow your love for those kind of things, things that are bigger than life and magical and very imaginative.”
Beginning in 1989, during the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno years of the Incredible Hulk’s small screen tenure, Lee began making his own cameos in the Marvel Universe. In the 2000 film “X-Men,” he was selling hot dogs on a beach as an irradiated Senator Kelly emerged from the sea, quite wet and quite naked. Three years later, he joined his old friend Ferrigno for a few seconds during the 2003 “Hulk” on the big screen, this time with a speaking role. From there, he saw Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four save the world, and was even confused for Hugh Hefner and Larry King by a condescending Iron Man.
Lee has appeared in every Marvel Cinematic Universe film since then, even describing his various adventures to the omniscient Watchers in the second Guardians of The Galaxy plot. According to IGN Entertainment, he filmed his cameo for the yet-unreleased Avengers 4 film months before his death.
We all have one more surprise to look forward to from the creator of a universe that sometimes feels more real than our own.
See all of Lee’s cameos in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.