“Real life superhero,” Stan Lee, dies at 95

Stan Lee, cartoonist, sitting at his work desk reading a comic book.

Writer, editor, publisher, Hollywood executive and tireless promoter of Marvel and himself, known for co-creating Marvel Comics and making cameos in almost every major Marvel movie, passed away at the age of 95 on Nov. 12 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.

“How many millions of us are indebted to this guy, none more so than me. The father of Marvel has made so many people so incredibly happy. What a life and what a thing to have achieved. Rest in peace Stan,” Marvel’s current Spider-man Tom Holland said.

From a cluttered office on Madison Avenue in Manhattan in the 1960s, Lee helped generate a line-up of comics with Jack Kirby like: “The Fantastic Four,” “The X-Men,” “Iron Man,” “Hulk” and “Thor.” Lee, Kirby and Steve Ditko created what is arguably Marvel’s’ most popular character, “Spider-Man.” Lee also created the box-office superhero smash that shattered big screen racial barriers in the process, called “Black Panther.”  He played a critical role in what comic fans call the medium’s silver age. The Silver Age of Comic Books was a period of artistic advancement and commercial success in mainstream American comic books, mainly those in the superhero genre.

“There will never be another Stan Lee. For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy. He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives. Excelsior!!” Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, said on Twitter.

Fans, friends and colleagues paid tribute to the comic’s icon on social media with the word “Excelsior.” Excelsior has long been Lee’s catchphrase since the mid-1960s. Not long after Atlas Comics rebranded as Marvel, Lee wrote a monthly column for the comic’s publisher in which he’d sign off with “Excelsior!”—a Latin word meaning ever upward or still higher. He wanted a unique word to himself that his rivals at the time wouldn’t be tempted to copy. Along with “Excelsior,” Lee will forever be remembered for his relentless imagination, pioneering spirit and heroic work ethic.

In 2010, Lee posted on Twitter: “Finally, what does ‘Excelsior’ mean? ‘Upward and onward to greater glory!’ That’s what I wish you whenever I finish tweeting! Excelsior!”

According to hollywoodreporter.com, “Stan Lee is known not only for his celebrated superheroes but also for his creative cameos in various Marvel films and TV shows.”

Lee has played a small cameo in almost every one of Marvel’s films between 1989 and 2018. He has made 20 cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans have debated if Lee’s short appearances are just for fun or if they hold a greater meaning to the Marvel Franchise. The cameos were a fun way to honor Lee’s contribution to the work by sharing them with a massive, mainstream audience. Some of Lee’s cameos include: a jury member in the TV movie “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” (1989), a hot dog vendor in the “X-Men” (2000), a bystander who saved a little girl’s life from falling debris in the pre-Tom Holland “Spider-Man” (2002) starring Tobey Maguire, a security guard in “Hulk” (2003), a man who saves a woman from rubble while Spider-Man clashes with Dr. Octopus in “Spider-Man 2” (2004), a man who comes across Peter Parker in Times Square and says “you know, I guess one person really can make a difference,” in “Spider-Man 3” (2007) and he’s mistaken for Hugh Hefner by Tony Stark in “Iron Man” (2008).