Thank You, Stan Lee
By Nick Chhoeun
There is one thing people can talk about across generations: superheroes. From Spiderman to—my favorite—Wolverine these superheroes inspire and amuse the minds of the young and old alike. Stan Lee, the creative leader/writer of Marvel comics, is the man behind these superheroes.
I’m not completely sure when I first became fascinated with Stan Lee’s Marvel universe. Maybe it was playing with Spiderman, Hulk, and Captain American action figures with my neighborhood friends. Maybe it was watching the Spiderman movie at age seven for the first time—then a second time and a third time. Whenever it was, these characters and their stories feel like they have always been a part of my life.
Stan Lee didn’t make ordinary stories. He made stories about people with superhuman powers. Powers like flight and super speed. Powers that made some of his characters shoot laser beams from their eyes, fireballs from their hands, or control metal. Yet even with all these powers, it was their human traits that made these characters “super.” Lee showed us that it takes more than being able to beat up the bad guys.
Spiderman showed us that confidence and compassion were the attributes that really made him a hero. Wolverine was just a guy with adamantium claws that could also regenerate but he wasn’t a true hero until he learned to love and value friendship. Even Iron Man, the guy who seemingly had it all—money, good looks, and a genius mind—wasn’t a superhero until he learned to be humble and put others first. The qualities that made these characters superheroes were traits anyone could cultivate. Through epic concepts and action scenes, Lee was able to show people from a young age the importance of being a good person.
I was a shy kid who lacked confidence growing up. I always dreamed of having superpowers, but through Lee’s work, I learned that the true superpowers were treating people fairly, being kind, and working hard.
I often work with middle school students. During breaks from academic work, we can talk about the Marvel universe. My parents and I share an obsession with the Marvel movies. We have seen every single one in theaters together –even when it meant traveling across states. These stories transcend age.
Of course, I can’t talk about Stan Lee on CafeMFA without bringing up his exemplary writing techniques. From fully fleshed out characters to immaculate plots, Lee was a master of crafting story in the comic book form.
Stan Lee was also a big advocate for literacy. He started the Stan Lee Foundation with the mission to “provide access to literacy, education and the art throughout the nation.”
Here’s to you, Stan Lee. Thank you for being a superhero that will always live on through your stories.
Nick Chhoeun is a staff editor at Café MFA and a second-year candidate in American University’s Creative Writing MFA program.