R.I.P. The Life & Legacy of Stan Lee

If Stanley Martin Lieber had never been born on December 28, 1922, there would never have been a Spider-Man, a Fantastic Four, an X-Men, Hulk, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Iron Man, and so many of the beloved comic book characters the world has grown to love and adore.

Stan Lee, along with a few trusted collaborators, created some of the most important comic book characters of the 20th century and in doing so transformed pop culture and American society. Today, his work is the basis for one of the United States’ main global exports, our entertainment, and for all the ups and downs he had as a businessman during his long and storied career, he is ultimately one of the most crucial creative executives in the history of the world.

Stan was also one of the most energetic and beloved figures in American culture. Somehow, at the ripe old age of 95, he was still running a major business, travelling the world, and finding time to show up in several movies and comic conventions every year.

He fought for what he believed in and always rooted for the little guy. Stan Lee challenged the comics industry’s censorship organization, the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to it updating its policies. Lee subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation. He was inducted into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1995. Lee received a National Medal of Arts in 2008.

Some people criticized Stan for always being out front and in the limelight, and for taking too much credit for the creations he co-created, but Stan Lee remained humble and jovial. He’s was just the comics ambassador that outlived everybody else.

Well that life has now ended. Sadly, Stanley Martin Lieber, a.k.a. Stan Lee, has passed away. Kirk Schenck, an attorney for Lee’s daughter, J.C. Lee, confirmed his death to the Associated Press. Lee’s estate is estimated to be worth upwards of $70 million.

Lee’s final few years were tumultuous. After Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in July 2017, he later sued executives at POW! Entertainment for $1 billion alleging fraud, then abruptly dropped the suit weeks later. POW! was a company he founded in 2001 to develop film, TV and video game properties. He also sued his ex-business manager and filed for a restraining order against a man who had been handling his affairs. And in June 2018, it was revealed that the LAPD had been investigating reports of elder abuse against him.

Stan Lee taught us many important lessons, including, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We have the power to promote change and do our best to make society a better place. His characters always appeared flawed in their everyday life, but they still tried to make the world better for those around them. Though most of the characters he created had superpowers, they used it for others and not for personal gain. He imagined the Marvel Universe for us, but his stories will influence many for generations to come.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 22: Writer Stan Lee attends the IMDb Yacht at San Diego Comic-Con 2016: Day Two at The IMDb Yacht on July 22, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)

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Chris Braly

I'm one opinionated, based geek. I try to steer this tiny ship and can often be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several fellow "comic book nerds." Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly. My preferred adjectives are brilliant/beautiful.