The man. The myth. The legend.
Yesterday, it snowed in my town. Normally, I despise snow, and even as I texted my husband how horrible it had been to be snowing so soon, I kept finding myself periodically looking out the window. It was so white, a pure blanket covering all it touched. Fluffy pieces of heaven falling from the sky. Down from the wings of the angels.
And the angels came and visited us yesterday.
“You know, my motto is “Excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory.’ […] Keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time. Nothing lasts forever.”
The snow I hate provided an unusual solace I didn’t know I needed until my husband came home. It was then I learned Stan Lee had been taken from us at the great age of ninety five. It was a day we’ve been expecting for some time, but a day we hate to have lived through. It was a time where we put aside our differentiating ideas on comics, movies, TV shows and stood together, hand in hand, to mourn the loss of our greatest hero.
Even if you’re not a die-hard comic reader or a super nerd who catches all the Easter eggs in the countless movies, there’s a good chance Stan Lee impacted your life in one way or another. The many characters he created/co-created bring hope, wonder, and courage to kids of all ages. He gave us vessels to dream through. He gave us bodies to live vicariously through. Gave us role models and encouragement when the world couldn’t. Showed us heroes could come in all shapes, nationalities, backgrounds, mental capacities, and even planets.
“I don’t think you ever outgrow your love for things that are bigger than life and more colorful than average life. And somehow I feel that these comic book stories are like fairy tales for older people, because they have the same qualities.”
He didn’t always enjoy comics at first, taking up his first position as merely a temp job just to earn some cash. He even once claimed it was the stupidest job on the face of the planet. But he never denied the love that grew within him. He brought joy through sketches, ink, and text. Demonstrated that someone like alcoholic, self-absorbed Tony Stark could become selfless like patriotic, war veteran Steve Rogers. He warned us that with great power comes great responsibility. And that having a dream is easy, but turning it into a reality where people enjoy said dream is hard. He also taught us to never give up.
We’ve all looked up to a comic book superhero, whether we’ve wanted to admit it or not. We’ve all wanted to be a superhero. Dreamed of having super powers of some kind. We’ve cheered for our favorite heroes, rallied against our most-hated villains, and fallen in love with both. We found ourselves relating to fictional characters who showed us it’s okay to not always end up saving the day.
Stan Lee wasn’t the only pioneer in the comic book industry, but he’s long been a legend. We wanted to believe he would be one of those people who would just stick around forever, but unfortunately, it couldn’t be so. But he will live on. In our hearts, in our cosplays, in his cameos that will never fail to make us tear up. It’s his turn, now. His turn to live vicariously through us.