Sometimes there are people that we wish could live forever. I’m not talking about family and friends; I’m talking about those people that seem to live at a distance, but at the same time reside in our heart. The people that bring such vibrancy to life whether it is through music, inspirational words, or maybe just a comic book. And maybe those comic books spawn a series of movies so epic that we sometimes forget their small, innocent origins. Stan Lee was one of these. This morning, the world lost Stan Lee. What we didn’t lose, nor will we ever lose, is his creativity, storytelling, and his beautiful mind.
Stan Lee has been a part of my life since before I even knew who he was. Sure, I knew who Spiderman was. I knew who the X-Men were. They were characters that seemed so real to me that it never dawned on my 6 or 7 year old brain that someone had to create them. They just simply existed. My earliest Halloween memory, and I’m talking late 60s here, is going out dressed as Spiderman. Check that, I wasn’t dressed as Spiderman, I WAS Spiderman. As I walked from house to house, in my mind I was web-slinging from one candy giver to the next. Walking was beneath me, I was Spiderman.
In 1994, I became a dad to an awesome set of twins boys. When they got to be about the age of 6, like their dad, they adopted an interest in superheroes. I was elated! Here was my opportunity to relive the entire phase all over again. And hell yes, I played with them whether it was the role of villain or superhero. You see, Stan Lee gave us every opportunity to ensure that we never really had to grow up if we didn’t want to. We could latch onto his alternate universe and beat the bad guys anytime we wanted. Adulthood could wait, I have a battle with Wolverine just as soon as they finish their mac n cheese.
Imagine how many smiles Stan Lee created in his life. We should all be so lucky; so generous. He put quite a few smiles on my face, and not just as a kid. I remember the smiles my kids wore for hours on end. Sometimes it was while donning the Iron Man mask, or maybe the Wolverine claws, and sometimes the Hulk Smash ’em hands. That was Stan Lee; he created those smiles. When the evening battles had drawn to a close and it was time to put my little superheroes to bed, the excitement was still coursing through them. I would tuck in Iron Man, tell a bedtime story to Spiderman, or answer a question that can only come from the mind of an 8 year old, albeit still in Hulk mode. “Dad, can I crush the Empire State Building with my Hulk fist?” Yes, yes you can. Stan Lee said you can. Now go to sleep.
I doubt there will ever be another Stan Lee; another mind so brilliant that it can allow us to be kids forever. I’m not sure I want there to be either. I grew up with Stan Lee, and I choose to grow old while staying young with him too. The world will dearly miss him and his mind. If you need me, I will probably be binge watching some Marvel movies over the next few days. I’ll await those cameos that we all look for in each one of them. Stan Lee will always be with us; on film and in our hearts. RIP Stan.