It’s not an uncommon occurrence for celebrity deaths to pop up here and there and it’s extremely rare for one to affect me in any way. But as you can probably tell by the title of this post and the news in general that I felt like I had to comment on this one. Stan Lee, the voice and face of Marvel comics has passed away at the age of 95. And not only has he been a massive presence in the history of Marvel comics and even comics in general, he has also been a near constant presence in the Marvel movies themselves with his frequent-yet-brief cameoes. His presence will definitely be missed moving forward.
I know that Stan Lee has had a certain reputation, his presence and story has almost become larger than life. He’s credited with the creation of nearly half of the Marvel universe’s biggest hitters despite more recent claims that he’s taken more credit for those creations than he might have deserved for more collaborative creations between himself and the artists. But what he has contributed the most is his legacy as a storyteller. Not just the stories that he contributed to during his tenure writing for Timely and Marvel comics, but also being a storyteller in public. He became the face of Marvel, telling the stories not just of the comics, but about the comics and about him. He had Stan’s Soapbox, but where I first remember seeing him was doing the introductions for the 90’s cartoons like Fantastic Four and Iron Man. And years later when the first Spider-Man came out on DVD, there was also a tie-in where Kevin Smith interviewed Stan Lee called Monsters, Mutants, and Marvels. That’s where I really fell in love with the idea of him as he talked about his life and time with Marvel comics.
Of course, there’s also his presence in the movies starting with very brief walk on cameos where he’s literally a blink-and-you-miss-him extra who you would only recognize if you knew what he looked like beforehand. But through the years it became a running joke that grew and amplified to some of the best ones like in Amazing Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 which turned him into the fan theorized role of the Watcher. He’s been a beloved near-constant presence within the various Marvel movies whether or not they were Disney-Marvel, Fox-Marvel, or Sony-Marvel.
I will say that I was lucky enough to see him in person, though I didn’t get to personally talk to him I saw him at a panel during my first trip to C2E2 in 2015 and it was a highlight of my first convention. He kept referring to how his memory wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, but he was still full of life and was able to work the crowd with the tales of his life and time with Marvel. It’s disappointing that his recent years have been plagued with stories about money mis-management, elder abuse, and others. And however much his stories about creating some of the most iconic Marvel heroes may have been exaggerated through the years, it’s partly because of those stories and the man telling and re-telling them that has made Marvel what it is today. He is and always be an icon of comics and likely the most well known comics author of all time. This has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights. Excelsior! Nuff said. RIP Stan.