05 Dec How Stan Lee Inspired The Superhero In All Of Us
When Stan Lee passed away last month, it was the end of an era for millions of his fans. His characters have defined the childhoods of generations from the 1960s until today with his timeless human superheroes. We could all connect with at least one of his creations. How did he inspire the superhero in all of us?
Stan Lee had been in his job as an editor at Timely Productions for 20 years before he took the plunge to create characters which he believed in, and inspired him. He had followed the rules of the company in writing the stories they had wanted – crime, westerns, horror stories but all with very clear one-dimensional heroes vs villains. At aged 40, he was tired and ready to move on. His wife Joan said he had nothing to lose and to try exploring the characters HE wanted to read about. Lee created The Fantastic Four who had their petty family squabbles and flaws, but put their differences aside to fight for the greater good, and the comic industry never looked back.
But it was the change that Lee made to Peter Parker the sidekick which became the inspiration for millions of children, teens and adults alike. This teenager had greatness thrust upon him. It was not his choice. He was the ordinary kid with girlfriend troubles, orphaned and fostered, he lived with his uncle and aunt when he was bitten by the radioactive spider. Although he experimented with his new talent, his “gift”, it was when hisUncle Ben was killed by criminals that Peter Parker accepted the responsibilities that come with greatness. He chose to BE Spiderman and fight the evils of our world.
Spiderman inspires his fans because we can all relate to the human in him. Just likePeter Parker, we each have our talents, our titles, our roles which are our responsibility. We choose how we use them – we can choose to do good and change lives, or we can be selfish and only benefit ourselves, we can take the risk to follow our dreams, or we can hide our talents away. Every day we have many choices which determine our future. Just like Spiderman. Just like Peter Parker. Just like all of Stan Lee’s superheroes.
Spiderman copyright to Marvel
Stan Lee’s characters are inspirational by the choices they make. Their decisions can change people’s lives, and in some cases, save the earth and even the universe.However, each superhero has their own flaws and can make the wrong choices at times. They need to work their way through their issues, the consequences of their choices, and take the risks to make the difference so that they can beat the evil enemy OR their very human issues – drug addiction, social injustice, and prejudice. Stan Lee’s superheroes are humans with relatable issues that we face in our own lives by our own choices.
Stan Lee said in his TED Talk: “You want a three-dimensional superhero who lives and breathes and worries and experiences things just the way you and I do except for the fact that she or he has a superpower.” Their choices when they deal with their worries and experiences are the connection we have as humans with our superheroes.
Some of the characters are also faced with the inherent human issue of prejudice and not fitting in. The need of the creation of the black superhero Black Panther is as important and relevant to today’s society as it was in the 1960s. At that time, Martin Luther King was the extraordinary real-life superhero who was battling to change his world, and was killed for his cause – the equal rights for black people in the USA. The success of the movie Black Panther in 2018 shows how closely the audience relates to the characters and how much they are inspired by their actions.
Deadpool must deal with his blindness caused by an accident, Rogue in The X-Men has an unfortunate power that means she cannot touch anyone, Charles Xavier is paraplegic, and The Hulk battles against an overpowering rage in his everyday issues. Every character has their human flaws and human battles to deal with, and their choices reflect on why they become heroes.
Each character who becomes a superhero could just as easily have become a villain if they made different choices, and in the Marvel universe created by Stan Lee, characters are fully rounded, deep, flawed, and dependent on experience and circumstances so they can be a superhero at one time or a villain at another time by their choice of actions – such as Bucky and Loki.
Comic image covers copyright to Marvel
Stan Lee’s creations inspire the superhero in all of us because we have the choice in the actions we will take that will make a difference to other people, and our society. Whatever our circumstances, our experiences, our childhood issues, and our relationships, we must choose how we will act and face the consequences. Being different is our strength and gives us our power, but we must choose to act to make a difference – with any power comes responsibility. By choosing to act with integrity and courage, we can make a difference and change our own world for the better.