There’s Gandalf, there’s Dumbledore and there’s Stan Lee — the three greatest wizards of all time. Lee, the creative genius who penned some of the most popular comic characters of the modern day — Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Iron Man, X–Men, Thor and many more — passed away on Nov. 12, leaving behind a void that will be impossible to fill. Lee was 95, but every moment he lived proved how age was just a number and not a state of being. His personality was timeless, and so are the characters he created.
Lee looked at the world differently. Through his prodigious cognitive power, he saw something more in our world and imparted that vision to others through his stories. He enabled us to see what we could not even imagine. Lee put aside the convention that superheroes belong to some other parallel universe. He humanized them and made them a part of our world. A world without him would have been a world without these heroes.
We all know him for the characters he created, or as he would put it, “had a hand in making.” But to me, the best story Lee ever told was through his own life. Each of the characters he created and the stories he told through them was just a spinoff from the superhero saga that he was writing every day with himself as the central character. Lee was a storyteller, and a passionate one at that. Comic books were just one of the better–known mediums he used. Look up any of his interviews and you will be able to sit through them without batting an eye. He lived to entertain. Lee once said, “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.” He could not have been more right.
When I look back, I do not remember knowing a Stan Lee who wasn’t old. Neither will most of you. To speak quantitatively, we are way beyond his generation, but his influence continues to reach fans of all ages. Most of us grew up enjoying his creations, comic books and movies. We will grow old savoring them and so will many generations that follow us. Lee and his creations really are timeless. I am awed when I realize that he actually wrote his first comic strip for Marvel Comics (then called Timely Comics) at the age of 18, and kept doing so for the next 77 years without losing a moment of interest. If I live to half his age and still feel half as passionate about my own life’s work, I will feel blessed. Thank you, Stan Lee, for telling all of those stories and teaching us to handle our powers responsibly.