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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Comic Books Icon, Stan Lee, Passes at 95


Los Angeles, CA – At 95 years of age, comic book writer and face of Marvel entertainment, Stan Lee passed after a bout with Pneumonia in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California on November 12, 2018. In the wake of his death, Lee leaves behind a profound legacy that will reverberate through American and International entertainment for years to come.

Born in 1922, Lee served in the United States military during World War II, writing film scripts and text for recruitment in the Army. Having spent his formative years fighting the Nazis, Lee’s later work came to reflect the triumph of good versus evil, on the outside, but also the inner battle within someone.

Lee got his start in 1939 working for Timely Comics, which over time evolved into what we know today as Marvel Comics, where he co-created and developed some of the company’s most iconic characters. Perhaps no character is tied to Lee’s legacy as closely as Spider-man, who evolved over time with Lee. Beginning as your friendly neighborhood web-slinger, Spider-man grew over the decades to become ubiquitous; a universally adored symbol of Americana. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has completely dominated the box office of late, with a wide range of characters who have exploded in popularity, Spider-man has long since served as the unofficial mascot of Marvel. He is Marvel’s marquee superhero, who completely sprang from the imagination of Stan Lee.

Lee also will be remembered fondly for his role in social change, as he was a prominent figure in America concurrently with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. While not necessarily an outright advocate marching on the front lines, Lee did his part in his work. Creating the character, The Black Panther, who is now a cultural phenomenon due to the wildly successful 2018 movie of the same name, was a huge step in the right direction for inclusivity and diversity in comics. The Black Panther is a noble, fierce, and powerful fighter for what he believes in. Perhaps most importantly though, Black Panther is just a cool, relatable hero for so many people who might not have felt properly represented in comics in general.

Also, the X-Men, another product of Lee’s imagination, came to symbolize the Civil Rights Movement. Lee made the X-Men protectors of humanity, the last line of defense against evil mutants. But, the snag in the story was the people the X-Men were protecting hated them, simply because they were different. “I loved that idea; it not only made them different, but it was a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at the time,” Lee told The Guardian in a 2000 interview. Lee, through his work, exposed the hypocrisy of hate and intolerance and petitioned for equality. He tried to create a more accepting climate and push out the bullying and bigotry, fighting the same good fight as the Civil Rights Movement

Lee will not only be remembered in comic loving circles, however. Stan Lee is one of the best story tellers of the modern era, creating characters that capture the imagination and story arcs that keep the pages turning. George R.R. Martin, of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire fame, regards Lee highly for his influence on writers across genres. “Don’t forget the Night’s Watch … lost, cowardly, bad and honorable men from all over the world coming together to protect the world from a common threat. If that doesn’t scream Avengers to you, then I don’t know what,” Martin told Vanity Fair  in an interview. Martin connected Lee’s writing to his own, though separate genres, and how he and other artists draw inspiration from the themes in Lee’s works.

It would be a disservice to Lee’s legacy to not mention his standing as the king of cameos. His first cameo, in the 1989 TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, Lee plays the trial foreman in Bruce Banner’s trial. This was the catalyst for Lee’s consistent appearances in Marvel entertainment, always having a very small, mostly inconsequential role. Each cameo serves as a generally humorous Easter egg that gives the audience something to look for in the viewings. He appeared in all sorts of cameo roles, 57 in the Marvel Universe, including the recent Spider-Man video game, and will posthumously have cameos in the upcoming unnamed Avengers movie and Captain Marvel.

Stan Lee leaves behind a legacy filled with some of the most popular and interesting fictional characters ever created; a master writer who tackled themes of defeat and inner turmoil in his works and being one of the main architects of a universe that would go on to become one of the most popular film dynasties ever. Lee may be gone physically, but his characters, who hold so much of himself within them, will live on forever. In his own words, Excelsior, friends!

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