In the world of comic books and superheroes, one name usually stands out, Stan Lee.
There will never be another one like him. He was the public face of Marvel in the 70s and went on to make over 60 cameos in movies and other platforms. Along with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others, Lee was part of something that is now a global phenomenon.
With the sad passing of Stan Lee, Rich and Ben sit down and talk about his incredible legacy.
B: I’m just very sad right now. I mean, it’s not hit me as hard as I thought it would. I mean when Carrie Fisher died I was in tears. I was a zombie for a couple of days. It hit me hard. But Stan Lee has influenced more things in my life, so you’d think his death would have been more upsetting. I guess given his age, it’s not as much of a shock. And probably I’ve been expecting it since before the MCU was even a thing.
R: Yeah I get what you mean. It’s probably a similar situation to David Attenborough in many ways. You have a living legend, who has left such a massive impact on the world, but he’s getting on now and it’s kind of anticipated if that makes sense?
B: Yeah. Still very sad. But he lived an incredible life, he helped to shape the lives of so many people and left a truly once in a lifetime legacy behind him.
R: He definitely brought a lot of joy into the world.
How Stan Lee Impacted My Life
R: For me, I have to go straight to my time at university. I moved down to London, away from my friends and family. Totally on my own, starting life in a big city. It was daunting, but exciting at the same time. I met a guy called Chris on my course and he was really into comic books. He started lending me them and really kicked off my love affair with Marvel comics. He was into the 60s & 70s stuff, and being that ‘uni type’ we both were very snobbish about the modern stuff. So we wanted to be all ‘cool’ by liking the retro stuff. Obviously, this was a time when Lee was heavily involved creating so many of the characters we know and love today. So at a time when I was feeling isolated in a big city, Marvel comics helped me make friends.
B: Funnily enough, mine is a similar story.
B: I got into comics when I first went to secondary school, so 98′. Being a ‘geek’ back then was nothing like it is these days. To my knowledge, I was the only person in my school who loved comics, at least openly. Our school library got a batch of Marvel and DC illustrated encyclopedias, so I jumped on that straight away. I literally went every lunchtime and read them every day. Just increasing my knowledge and introducing myself to characters I had never heard of. It opened so many comic doors for me. For two weeks I was the only one reading them. One day I went in, just like normal, but there was a boy sitting there reading the Marvel one. I felt offended at first, in my eyes, it was ‘my book’. I was the only one who ever bothered to read it. Turns out this boy, Adam, wanted to read it but I always got there first and he was too nervous to approach me. We were both similar in that sense, so we got talking and then our friendship grew from there.
R: It’s crazy how we both have similar stories, that it helped us make friends at a time in our lives when we didn’t have many.
King Of The Cameo
R: These days people will just think of him in those cameo roles. I mean don’t get me wrong, they are brilliant and he’s fantastic. But I think sometimes his legacy gets fudged a little as a guy who just does cameos.
B: I totally agree, but I would say that this probably only really applies to people who only bother with the movies. A wider, more general audience. People who are into comics, you’d think, would always appreciate and remember him for his impact on the wider industry and not just the MCU.
R: Yeah that’s a fair point.
Best Cameo Role
B: So speaking of cameos, what would you pick as your favourite?
R: Tough one. There have been so many good ones. I’d probably have to go with his Spider-Man 3 cameo. Probably the only thing good about that mess of a movie. It was a key moment, carried some weight. It was that positive outlook and ideology that Lee was famous for. Brilliant.
B: Good call. I nearly went with that one. He’s had so many amazing cameos, some that are just funny, others that, like you said, carry some weight to them. Mine is a subtle one, no grand speech or comedic one-line. It was in Daredevil (2003). The one where he was about to walk into a busy road but young Matt Murdock stopped him with his stick. Lee played the up ‘shock’ perfectly. Daredevil is one of my all-time favourite characters, so it’s fitting that my favourite Lee cameo would be in this movie.
R: So both our cameos are in crap movies basically!
B: How very dare you. Affleck was da bomb in Daredevil.
Stan Lee’s Legacy
R: It pretty much speaks for itself. He co-created and created some iconic characters that have stood the test of time. His vision, along with Kirby etc laid the foundation for everything that followed. He was a real personality and will be missed by everyone who knew him, or his work. I love the Marvel movies, so for me, it’s the MCU. He made it possible. He influenced those who are working on these films and many other formats. He is part of the reason why geek culture has been more widely accepted and embraced.
B: Most definitely. I could talk in-length about all his great characters, stories and influence. I could praise his cameos and talk about his modern achievement in helping to shape one of the greatest and most successful movie franchises of all time. But for me, Stan Lee’s legacy is more personal and closer to home. A few years back I spotted a guy I knew from school. This guy would hit me on a daily basis. When I walked past him he would spit on my art folder, decorated in superhero and ‘greb band’ cutouts . This guy didn’t spot me, but he was wearing a Captain America shirt. It blew my mind. Here was the guy who would bully me for liking superheroes, now wearing a superhero t-shirt. Marvel is so ingrained in popular culture that most people will know who these characters are. It’s amazing to think kids are now able to be open and express their love of superheroes, and not be singled out because of it. It’s made the world more inclusive.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and memories of Stan Lee. What was your favourite cameo? What did Stan Lee mean to you? Leave your messages in the comments below.