The Inspiring Life of Stan Lee

Stan Lee was a visionary who was ahead of his time. Together with other groundbreaking pioneers like Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, they created characters that have fascinated the public since the early 20th century.

Through flagship characters like Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, Black Panther, Iron Man, Thor, and the X-Men, Stan Lee’s stories have resonated with generations of readers.

Although these colorful characters are fictional, they paint an accurate picture of the human condition. More than that, people have come to identify with their struggles.

Whether it’s Peter Parker understanding the responsibility that comes with power or Professor X’s dream of an equal and just society, Stan Lee has rooted his stories in real-life examples.

As the saying goes, not all heroes wear capes, and Stan Lee was certainly the embodiment of that. He believed in the importance of his work, which is giving people hope and inspiring them to be the best they can.

Although superheroes only exist in comic books, we can still live up to their ideals in the real world. We can all live our lives based on truth, integrity, responsibility, fairness, and perseverance against insurmountable odds.

As Stan used to say, "Excelsior!", which is Latin for “ever upward”. Although he is no longer with us, we should live up to the values he strove for, especially moving in a positive direction.

And whether you’re a comic book fan or not, we can all strive to build a legacy that will last beyond our lifetime.

Here are a few memorable quotes from the man himself:

On heroes with flaws:

“Just because you have superpowers, that doesn’t mean your love life would be perfect. I don’t think superpowers automatically means there won’t be any personality problems, family problems or even money problems. I just tried to write characters who are human beings who also have superpowers.”

On living a meaningful life:

“Most people say, “I can’t wait to retire so I can play golf,” or go yachting or whatever they do. Well, if I was playing golf, I would want that to finish so I could go and dream up a new TV show.”

On work and career:

“I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: Entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.”

On childhood idols:

“My theory about why people like superheroes is that when we were kids, we all loved to read fairy tales. Fairy tales are all about things bigger than life: Giants, witches, trolls, dinosaurs and dragons and all sorts of imaginative things. Then you get a little bit older and you stop reading fairy tales, but you don’t ever outgrow your love of them.”

On justice and equality:

“America is made of different races and different religions, but we’re all co-travelers on the spaceship Earth and must respect and help each other along the way.”

On pursuing your passion:

“I don’t really see a need to retire as long as I am having fun.”

On real superheroes:

“A… definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being and will go out of his or her way to help them—even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.”

On gratitude:

“If there are people who like the work you’ve done, [and] because of that, they like you and want your autograph and to take a photo, that’s really gratifying. You have to be appreciative.”

On fighting real-life villains:

“Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are.”

On the importance of reading:

“The more you read, the better you’re going to become as a storyteller.”

On imagination:

“Some people will say, ‘Why read a comic book? It stifles the imagination. If you read a novel you imagine what people are like. If you read a comic, it’s showing you.’ The only answer I can give is, ‘You can read a Shakespeare play, but does that mean you wouldn’t want to see it on the stage?’”

On doing your best every day:

“You know, my motto is ‘Excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory.’ It’s on the seal of the state of New York. Keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time. Nothing lasts forever.”

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