Stan Lee, the founder of Marvel Comics, has passed at the ripe young age of 95. But do you know the truth behind his comics and the message is one we should all remember in his name.
It’s nearly 3:00pm when the news had broke, major outlets sharing their thoughts and respects for one of the most legendary people within the entertainment spectrum. The headline is simple – “Stan Lee, founder of Marvel has passed away at 95” – it was a headline none of were quite ready to read or even hear.
For many of us, Stan Lee was like the grandparent we never got to have and his stories would be the comics he would release over the spans of our lives. But most importantly, the meaning behind those comics and why they came to exist. In the 1950’s, the world was still recovering from the effects of World War II. Through much of his life, Stan Lee would come into adulthood where racism, bigotry, sexism, hate, and non-diversity were ruling factors in the world.
Much to this day, the world still fights back against problems such as racism, being different is bad and sexism along bigotry still remain existing topics. But many may not realize, one of Stan Lee’s most outspoken themes were those very problems. Throughout his life, the comic book legend would continually set a single theme out until the very day he died, “with great power comes great responsibility.
One of the common themes across his life was the fact that Stan Lee decried hate of any kind. Whether it was sexism, racism, bigotry or hatred of any kind, he was against it and condemned it until the day he passed. But it didn’t start in the current age, but instead, it started when Lee was working with comic book legends Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in the 1960’s that they would begin addressing these troubles through the worlds of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the mutant ensemble known as the X-Men.
The only difference between all three groups isn’t what they are, but the fact they were social outsiders, even having their very own powers and being frowned upon by society for being as different as they are. Stan Lee even went as far as to explaining Comic Riffs, via The Washington Post, that “I always felt the X-Men, in a subtle way, often touched upon the subject of racism and inequality, and I believe that subject has come up in other titles, too; but we would never pound hard on the subject, which must be handled with care and intelligence.”
But it all comes back to Stan Lee’s soapbox articles in 1968, where he touched on the assassinations of both the well respected black rights protestor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and former president Robert F. Kennedy: “Let’s lay it right on the line. Racism and bigotry are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed supervillains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them, is to expose them – to reveal from the insidious evil they really are.”
“The bigot is an unreasoning hater – one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately… He hates people he’s never seen – people he’s never known – with equal intensity – with equal venom… It’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race – to despise an entire nation – to vilify an entire religion,” Stan Lee stated.
Stan Lee would continue on, showing the hardships the heroes we had known to come and love would put out on display as metaphors for the world around us. One that went unscathed and still resonates to this very day is the X-Men’s arch-nemesis known as Magneto, a man hellbent on creating a world only filled by mutants, eliminating humans at whatever cost is deemed necessary – a reflection of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
Over the years, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Spider-man and even Luke Cage – Luke Cage being printed in 1972 at the height of the anti-black movement – would push back against racism and discrimination. Luke Cage being one of the first few black superheroes at the time that would stand out side-by-side with other heroes such as Blackbolt and Lobo (not to be confused with D.C.’s supervillain Lobo). Moving forward, Stan Lee would continue to fight back against racism, discrimination (sexism included) and hate of any form through the power of comics.
The Marvel Universe would even see themselves fighting back against issues such as the Mutant Registration Act – also known as the Mutant Control Act – would show the dangers of such forced registrations were they to happen for minorities and or peoples underneath the hand of a government looking to control its peoples. The comics would continue to reflect real-life struggles that minorities faced such as hate, discrimination and even the dangers of such mindsets.
In 1971 – years before the X-Men and superheroes of the Marvel Universe would ever face the Mutant Registration Act – Stan Lee spoke about his thoughts on racism and bigotry: “The only message I have ever tried to get across is ‘for Christsake, don’t be bigoted. Don’t be intolerant. If you’re a radical, don’t think that all of the conservatives have horns…’ I think most people want the same thing. They want to live a happy family life, they want to be at peace, they want no physical violence, nobody to hurt them, and they want the good things that life has to offer. But I think everybody sees us reaching that nirvana by a different path.”
Stan Lee continued on in that interview and even stated that he thinks that one of the most terrible things in the world is that people are “so inclined to think in black and white, hero and villain, good and bad, if you don’t agree with me I’ve got to destroy you. If we could only learn that the world is big enough for all of us. For a guy who wants to wear his hair long, and a guy who wants to be a skinhead. Neither of ’em has to be bad.”
While many would not consider it, Stan Lee fought back against hate of any form, his comics his weapon, his pencil, his ability to write, his tools of change. Unfortunately, as of this Veteran’s Day, the world lost one of the greatest men to have ever lived. A man who sought change, who sought to influence the world through the use of comics and the kindness of his heart.
The very message that Stan Lee pushed to deliver would even be reflected through the changes we’ve seen in some of Marvel’s most evil villains – most significantly Magneto who eventually turned to Captain America for help as he began to fight back against his own anti-human agenda that coursed through his very veins. If there was anything that Stan Lee wanted us to know – it was that we can all make this world a better place, but it starts with us and we have to be that driving force to make this world the one he had hoped for throughout his life.
Now, the world just got a little bit darker without his infamous words, quips, and appearances throughout all of Marvels properties. From all of us here at Blast Away the Game Review: Stan Lee, you will be dearly missed and our thoughts and prayers are with you, your friends, your family and all of us you have influenced around the world. Thank you for making the world a better place.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.