By Matthew Barton
It was an ordinary November morning. A cool breeze brushed through the hair of those unfortunate enough to be outside. It seemed that it would just be another ordinary Monday. Little did the world know that Stan Lee, one of the most influential pop culture icons, had been rushed to the hospital for a medical emergency. Later that afternoon, it was announced that Lee had died.
Stan Lee worked on comics from the 1940s all the way up until 2010. In that time, he redefined what a “hero” is. I can remember that ever since I was in elementary school, I was different from the other kids. I didn’t care too much for cool cars, or sports, or playing on the playground. I didn’t dress up as a ninja or zombie for Halloween. I preferred reading, drawing, watching movies. I was obsessed with “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” and always wanted to be like Harry and Luke. Then, I discovered the world of Marvel. The characters that were created by Stan Lee and Marvel, despite having superhuman powers, still seemed like they had human qualities. They still struggled, fought, and tried to make friends.
“I don’t think superpowers automatically mean there won’t be any personality problems, family problems, or even money problems. I just tried to write characters who are human beings that also have superpowers,” Lee said.
They were different but they were still accepted by those around them. Stan Lee taught me, and so many others, that being different is okay. Being different is good!
In middle school, I faced medical issues that I didn’t know existed. Coping after being diagnosed was a struggle. To try and keep positive I watched countless hours of the tv show “Chuck,” and as many movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as possible. I have to go to the hospital to get my medicine for multiple hours. Every time I go, I wear a superhero shirt to give me the extra strength to get through the hours. I had friends asking me why I was missing school, and my doctor told me to just inform them that “I’m just getting my adamantium¹ injections.” People didn’t argue and stopped asking questions. I quote Marvel movies and comics multiple times a day and make references that people just don’t understand. Stan Lee gave me another part of the “nerd culture” that I so willingly embrace and love. I can’t even imagine my life without the characters that he created.
The news of Stan Lee’s passing on Monday, November 12 was as shocking as it was heartbreaking. Lee had, and will continue to, inspire people all over the world. Many celebrities, even those not associated with Marvel, posted heartfelt messages after the loss of one of the world’s greatest visionaries. Lee never expected to live forever, but he wanted to do the best that he could in the time that he had.
“You know, my motto is ‘Excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory.’ It’s on the seal of the state of New York. Keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time. Nothing lasts forever.”
¹ A metal that exists inside the Marvel Universe. The popular character Wolverine, created by Stan Lee, has claws made of adamantium