Why I Am Taking Stan Lee's Passing So Hard

Since the Harry Potter film franchise ended, I could never get excited about movies being in the theaters. I have always loved watching films, but I could wait for them to come out on DVD. This remained true until I became obsessed with the Marvel Universe. Stan Lee provided me with a safe space where the bullied became winners and differences were celebrated.

Every Marvel movie lover looks forward to the Stan Lee cameos. To think we will never see one again is heartbreaking. No matter how many action-packed scenes there were, I knew I would have that little bit of comedy relief. I grew up on these movies, and sure they will continue producing them, but will they ever feel the same again?  

Though seemingly a simple story, Stan Lee’s underdog narratives made me, and fans like me, feel appreciated. He wrote multi-dimensional comic book characters with obstacles and flaws they had to persist through. Because of this, I started to understand that ‘perfect’ is not something we can strive for. Kindness, compassion, philanthropy—these are traits we can obtain.

But the hero in one person’s story just might be the villain in another’s. The many heroes that Stan Lee created have their flaws, and so did he. Lee has been accused of sexual assault on a few different occasions. Being a woman, and a Marvel fan, this news was problematic. This man, who has given me so much through his comics and movies, has taken advantage of other women. It is hard to define whether he is just a bad guy or a good guy who did bad things. One thing is for sure, though; we are allowed to admire his work, we are allowed to mourn his death, but we are also allowed to question Stan Lee’s character—and we can do all of these things in conjunction with another.

As a Marvel fan who is a woman, thank you for showing women as assassins, as scientists, as warriors, as leaders. Thank you for showing the world exactly as we are—a force to be reckoned with.

As a black Marvel fan, thank you, Stan Lee. Thank you for giving the representation we have been craving for years. To see black bodies as powerful, and undefeatable, and admirable. Thank you.