By Kaylee Brewster
It took me a while to get into comic books, but I was already well-immersed in their characters thanks to movies like “Spider-Man” “X-Men,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man.”
With each movie, the name and face of Stan Lee kept popping up. So, by the time I acquired a taste for comic books, I knew who to thank for some of my favorite characters like Peter Parker, Bruce Banner and the mutant team of X-Men.
When I went to the University of Glasgow in Scotland for a masters degree in film and television, I chose to do a research project on Marvel film and TV. Because, I thought, then I can watch comic book movies and TV shows and call it research. However, it also led me to the discover the creators of comic book characters — often by Stan Lee.
While there are plenty of visionary things Stan “the man” Lee did for the world of comics, in my research I grew to admire him for his decision to include all kinds of diverse characters in the Marvel roster.
In a world where most male teenagers were sidekicks, he gave a regular teen the powers of a spider and created the series “The Amazing Spider-Man” to appeal to young males reading his comics. While some comic book publications didn’t want to deal with minority characters, Stan Lee embraced them (to various degrees of success). Black Panther, the first African superhero in mainstream American comics, was one of them. Lee created political parallels to reality with the X-Men and their struggle for acceptance, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
I could give more examples, but this isn’t my dissertation.
Over the last decade, as the Marvel films become a billion-dollar box office franchise, every movie offered some kind of Stan Lee cameo. It was something to look forward to. I would always hear extra laughter when he appeared in a scene, even once a whispered “that’s Stan Lee” from one viewer to another who apparently wasn’t in on the joke.
With his age being 95, I knew it wouldn’t be long before those Stan Lee cameos were no more and instead the words “In memory of Stan Lee” would appear at the credits.
With Stan Lee’s passing, an icon, a hero-maker and hero in his own right is gone. But his often flawed, relatable, characters and the ideals they represent will remain. Stan Lee created superheroes for everyone because he knew that everyone deserved to have a hero like them.
So thank you Stan Lee, and to end this column in traditional Stan Lee fashion: Excelsior!