From a troubled boy with spider powers to a group of mutated outcasts, the late Stan Lee is credited with co-creating some of today’s most influential superheroes.
“Hearing of his passing was like hearing I had just lost a friend,” senior graphic design major Chris Paluzzi said about Lee, former publisher and writer for Marvel comics, who died on Nov. 12 at 95.
Paluzzi, along with sophomore psychology major Tyrique Anderson and professor of theology Jason King, reflected on Lee’s impact.
Anderson, a team leader for APB, said Lee’s legacy has a “huge impact” on the campus.
“When [APB plays] a Marvel movie, so many people come out and it seems like they enjoy themselves,” he said.
King explained that a “sizable niche” on campus are passionate about Lee’s work, while the superhero movies based off his comics reach a broader audience.
King, Anderson and Paluzzi, who each grew up reading Marvel comics and watching Marvel cartoons, praised Lee’s characterization in his writing.
“Stan Lee has left such an impact on the comic book community by telling stories of people like you and me,” Paluzzi said. “People with flaws and relatable turmoil that could accomplish incredible feats.”
“Yes, they’re super and whatever,” Anderson said, “but they have a real human quality to them, and I think that’s what everyone connects with,”
Most people who used to read comic books, King said, were on the fringe of society; Lee’s superheroes made r
eaders feel like that fringe was a special group.
“Just like the superheroes who were cast to the outside, and were special and good,” King said. “[Stan Lee] carved out a place for you.”
Marvel superheroes such as Spider-Man and the X-Men showed King when he was young that doing the right thing often comes with a cost, he said. This interesting insight, he explained, helped him make sense of Christianity.
“I start to reread the ways in which Jesus acts and operates as trying to do good and heal and forgive, and the growing animosity as a result of that,” he said, “and I’m like: ‘hey, that’s just like Spider-Man.’”
King offers a theology course titled “Aliens/Monsters/Heroes/Jesus” which explores science fiction.
“We don’t read our culture very critically and it’s so formative on who we are,” he said. “When we do, you see the best of our culture reflecting themes that are true, and I think that reflects back on the Gospel.”
King, Anderson and Paluzzi each had high opinions of Lee.
“Stan seemed like a guy you could talk to, and he’d listen to you, he’d understand you,” Paluzzi said.”
King compared Lee to the likes on Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs on account of his long-term, productive, creative intellect.
“He had his hand in so much,” he said.
Anderson said he was astonished when he learned of Lee’s death. His friend, he said, stormed out of the room shouting in outrage and dropped his phone in front of Anderson.
“All I can see is ‘Stan Lee is dead’ and I’m like ‘what?’” Anderson said.
King said he had multiple reactions to the news.
“One, I was thankful for everything he had given me: the comic books, the movies, the humor, all of those pieces. And my selfish second response was: ‘oh, did he film his cameos for the next Marvel movies?” he said.
Lee made cameo appearances in over 35 movies based on Marvel superheroes since 1989, and his cameo for the upcoming Avengers movie was recorded before his death, according to Vox.
Paluzzi, using Lee’s one-word catchphrase, said there was not much else for him to say except: “farewell, and excelsior, my hero.”