Comic books have always provided a gateway to our imagination. A lot of this is due to visionary, Stan Lee, who passed away this week. He changed the face of our entertainment industry through his colorful comic book world and will be remembered as someone extraordinary.
In the Beginning
He worked a long in the comic and magazine world but his big breakthrough didn’t come until he co-created “The Fantastic Four” with Jack Kirby. And after that, went on to create other comic book titles and superheroes such as the famous “Spiderman.”
According to NBC News, “Lee’s biggest achievement wasn’t so much the comic characters themselves as it was the concept of fandom. He put out regular newsletters (called the Marvel Bullpen Bulletin) advertising what stories and characters the publishing house was working on. He created an entirely new way of crediting comic artists, known today as “the Marvel method,” that promoted the writers and creators. He pushed the boundaries for what his writers could talk about in their stories.”
Some Rough Spots and Challenges
What comes with fame, also comes the rough spots along the way. As he rose to top through his career, he did so at expense of who he worked with. There were many arguments of whose ideas were whose, and many left angry without some sort of explanation.
There came to be problems with diversity. Lee oversaw the creations of his characters but insisted that they all be straight, white men. The idea of recreating them to be women or people of color didn’t go well with his vision. In fact, he never took the female superhero seriously, and that’s why there weren’t any in the Marvel comics. It wasn’t until decades later when television flipped the script and casted women in these roles.
His decision to put his superhero characters onscreen is what changed the entertainment industry. According to NBC News, “Marvel’s decision to lean into Lee and Kirby’s interconnected universe concept — best exemplified by “The Avengers” — played a huge role in this impact. Before “The Avengers,” there were stand-alone superhero trilogies than focused on one character or set of characters. After “The Avengers,” though, it seemed like every tentpole franchise, both superhero and otherwise, was trying to figure out how to create crossover storylines.”
This idea of connecting storylines also made consumers connect to his comics. The simple idea that these superheroes were also just normal people because they had imperfections but wanted to do good in the world is what made people love them even more.
For me, I think his legacy will live on through his superheroes. As someone who is really into Marvel movies, I am glad that our entertainment industry is putting a spin on things and adding people of color and women into the mix. It may not be the original, but with the world we live in now, it is a milestone. It is more resonating with the audience than its ever been and I think that shows just how far we’ve come.
Also published on Medium.