Stan Lee was a unique creative force and his characters are famous worldwide, adored by practically every living generation and currently the biggest box office draw on the planet. With his death yesterday, many are taking stock of the total creative output in his lifetime, concluding that perhaps not since Walt Disney has one man’s creative vision influenced the world of entertainment so greatly. And now, in one of the best tributes I’ve seen to date, Marvel Entertainment has released a video explaining exactly what he meant to the company.
Opening with footage of Stan Lee speaking to the camera in 1968 (it’s surreal seeing him this young), we gradually move through photographs and videos of his life while contemporary forces at Marvel talk about their experiences with Lee, including Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Senior Vice President Tom Brevoort, President of Marvel Entertainment Dan Buckley and Sana Amanat, VP and in charge of Content and Character Development.
They identify Lee as not just having built what they (correctly) describe as “American mythology,” but also that his own personality and innate showmanship went a long way towards creating a Marvel brand. Or, as Lee himself puts it: “I wanted them to feel like buying a Marvel book was like visiting an old friend.”
For me, one of Lee’s most admirable features was that he spent his entire life championing diversity, campaigning for social politics and telling his readers to kick back against bullies wherever they see them. As they put it, you have to “lean into the light as much as you can even if there’s darkness all around you.”
Perhaps the best summary is that he was the “heart of the Marvel Universe.” There is, and was nobody in the world quite like Stan Lee, and he will definitely be missed.