He was born Stanley Martin Leiber in 1922 in New York City, a place that would become the ideal setting for his fervent imagination and timeless characters. He had ambitions to become a novelist, and took on the pseudonym of “Stan Lee” when doing comic book work. Little did he know that it would become a mantle that would make him an icon, a secret identity of his very own as he became a hero to scores across the globe.
Fantastic Four. Thor. Daredevil. Black Panther. Iron Man. Ant-Man. The X-Men. Hulk. Doctor Strange. And of course, Spider-Man. To be co-creator of anyone of these timeless characters would be legacy enough to be remembered forever.
It is impossible to measure the contribution that Stan Lee made to the pop culture zeitgeist. Before him, superheroes were gods, characters that were aspirational rather than relatable. They had a fantastical edge that defied science. Most creators tried to outdo other characters by coming up with more fantastical powers and settings. Stan Lee revolutionized the genre by reminding us of a simple truth.
Under the masks… they were people.
He gave superheroes their humanity, and perhaps more importantly, their heart. He gave us characters who struggled with blindness, bigotry and paying bills, all while trying to save the world.
He humanized his heroes, not to make them more like us, but to remind us that we were more like our heroes then we give ourselves credit for. It was a sense of realism that was relentlessly optimistic.
We’ll miss him dearly. But what he left behind was timeless.
Excelsior to the Truest Believer.
In his own prolific words… ‘nuff said.