A Superhero Who Created Superheroes… Stan Lee, Gone at Age 95

When we were kids, many of us wanted to be superheroes.

There were not nearly as many superheroes back then as there are today, especially in theaters. But I guess that’s part of what made them so special to us while we were growing up.

Thankfully though, kids today are just as infatuated with superheroes as we were. It’s incredible how many adults are still fascinated by these larger-than-life imaginary characters.

Go to any superhero movie these days and you’ll see more adults in the theater than you will kids. Some adults bring their kids, but the older set would be there anyway.

Turning Comics Into an Art Form

Superheroes are on my mind these days because of the recent passing of Stan Lee at age 95.

Mr. Lee was a superhero himself… to kids, young adults, middle-aged adults, older adults… well, nearly everybody. Right after his death, countless folks mourned his loss on the news and social.

He was revered by people of all ages for the many characters he developed. And for revitalizing the comic book and turning it into an art form.

Marvel Comics’ top writer and eventually its publisher blended style and substance seamlessly. Kids loved the costumes and the action. Adults bought into the creative plots with their sophisticated dialogue. Not to mention satirical messages and science fiction settings.

Powerful Yet Vulnerable

What was it that made Stan Lee stand out among his contemporaries? In addition to making mega millions for Hollywood, many believe it was his ability to turn the superhero into a flawed being.

Superman, from the rival DC Comics, was all about doing good. Making moral decisions. Saving the innocent in spite of what it would cost him.

Superman did have a weakness – kryptonite – but it was a crystalline material rather than a character flaw. Other than that, he was essentially invincible. Although some have thought a little too perfect.

Lee decided to go a different route with his heroes. He made almost all of the Marvel characters frail in one way or another. Despite their incredible powers and talents.

Nobody’s Perfect… and That’s the Point

Take Spider-Man’s alter ego, Peter Parker, for example. He had financial problems and dealt with unrequited love issues.

The Silver Surfer was melancholy. He worried about the less-than-perfect nature of mankind as he wandered in Earth’s atmosphere.

The Incredible Hulk seemed to hate himself. Iron Man suffered from a weak heart. Daredevil couldn’t see. Thor was too impulsive.

And the Fantastic Four? They all had their personal issues and could never seem to get along together very well. Even when they were focused on a common enemy.

Audiences Relate to Flawed Heroes

This was Stan Lee’s genius. He allowed audiences of all ages and temperament types to relate to their heroes’ weaknesses. All while admiring their strengths.

This genre has been labeled “realistic fantasy.” It resonated with millions of readers and movie-goers.

A number of the likable yet flawed characters Lee created went on to become stars of blockbuster films. And I do mean “blockbuster.”

X-Men earned $130 million in theaters in North America in 2000. Then came Spider-Man at $400 million two years later. Worldwide, Avengers: Infinity War grossed $2 billion.

‘Fairy Tales for Grown-ups’

At one point in his career, it was said that Lee wrote one comic book per day for 10 years.

He once told the Associated Press that his comic books were “fairy tales for grownups.”

He added, “I don’t think you ever outgrow your love for… things that are bigger than life and magical and very imaginative.”

Sporting his trademark white mustache and tinted sunglasses, there was no one more recognizable in the comic book (and superhero) industry.

Engaged Until the End

Lee never stopped creating. Despite his advanced age, he remained busy with his true passion over the past 10 years.

He contributed to recent films including Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy. As well as to TV series such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil.

He deservedly won the National Medal of Arts in 2008. And he further endeared himself to his countless fans with cameo appearances in a number of Marvel films and television projects.

Captain America’s Eulogy

Chris Evans, the Captain America actor, best summed up Lee’s life and talents with this Tweet.

“There will never be another Stan Lee. For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy.

“He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so many lives. Excelsior!”

So What’s the Greatest Superpower of All?

Over the decades, Stan Lee created hundreds of iconic and inspiring superpowers that gave life to the imaginations of both children and adults alike. From the webbed powers of Spider-Man, to incredible strength of Hulk.

But with all the superheroes Lee imagined, what he considered to be his greatest superpower of all time might surprise you – luck.

In an interview with Radio Times, he explained: “Every time I go to a comic book convention, at least one fan will ask me, ‘What is the greatest superpower of all?’ I always say that luck is the greatest superpower, because if you have good luck then everything goes your way.”

Did you have a favorite superpower yourself from the many characters Stan Lee created over the years? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.


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