The beloved comic book legend, Stan Lee, passed at the age of 95 on November 12th in Los Angeles after being rushed to the hospital. Although the cause of his death has not yet been released, earlier in the year, Lee revealed he’d been struggling with pneumonia. After the sad news became public, Lee’s daughter, J.C.. said, “My father loved all of his fans. He was the greatest, most decent man.”

Born in New York in 1922, Lee’s career spanned over 70 years. Growing up, young Stan loved to watch heroic films starring Errol Flynn. He was certain he wanted to be a writer and hoped to author a great novel one day. From 1942 to 1945, Lee served in the United States Army where he was classified as a “playwright,” and his work included writing manuals, training films, slogans, and sometimes cartooning.

During the 1950’s Lee was challenged to come up with his version of a superhero team in response to the success of DC Comics’ popular super-team, the Justice League of America. While Lee was busy creating heroes, he found himself wanting to quit his job as he didn’t feel a passion for the characters. Lee searched his soul for what would make compelling and long-lasting superheroes. After all, he found the comic book characters of that time to be idealized archetypes and rather unrelatable. In contrast, Lee wanted to create heroes that were flawed, sometimes temperamental and holding grudges, who had to concern themselves with things like paying rent, impressing their love interests, and becoming ill.

In 1961, together with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee co-founded Marvel Comics and helped create the superhero team called the Fantastic Four–followed by the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men, Black Panther, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, and more! Marvel’s characters were thrust into dramatic good-vs-evil scenarios battling supervillains and cosmic threats. But it was the heroes’ imperfections that made the characters relatable. When vulnerabilities come into play, more always seems to be at stake.

Lee served as Marvel’s creative leader for two decades, working as a comic book writer, editor, and publisher. He collaborated with other writers and artists, and over time, the comics attracted countless fans. What started out as a small division of a publishing house transformed into a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics industry under Lee’s leadership.

Once several Marvel movie adaptations were made, Lee’s superheroes garnered legions of fans across the globe. And Lee frequently cameoed in them. Most recently, he can be seen near the end of Venom as he gives relationship advice to Eddie Brock. Lee will also appear in the upcoming films Captain Marvel and Avengers 4, as he already filmed cameos for them.

Lee once reflected on his career, saying:

“I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: Entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain, you’re doing a good thing.”

An outpouring of tributes to Lee has been shared far and wide since his passing.

Marvel Studios is owned by the Walt Disney Company which brings the Marvel Cinematic  Universe to the silver screen. Walt Disney Chairman Bob Iger honored Lee in a tweet, saying, “Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created. A super hero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain, and to connect. The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart.”

Actor Mark Ruffalo who plays the Hulk, tweeted, “Sad, sad day. Rest in Power, Uncle Stan. You have made the world a better place through the power of modern mythology and your love of this messy business of being human …”

And wouldn’t you know it, but Stan Lee was in the process of collaborating with his daughter, creating a new superhero just days before he passed. According to J.C. Lee, that new hero will be called Dirt Man, but his unique powers and backstory are still a mystery to the public. J.C. plans to share the character with Marvel fans in due time. “[He’s the] last little angel that we have tucked away,” she said. Also, J.C. will launch a new foundation in memory of her dad named the Stan Lee Childhood Literacy Foundation to encourage children to read and write.

Excelsior! Stan “The Man”! Rest in peace.

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