In November 2018 the world lost one of one most influential architects of pop-culture. Stanley Martin Lieber AKA ‘Stan Lee’ passed away aged 95.
A SOCIAL IMPACT
Marvel’s impact has spread from comics (600 million copies sold) to becoming the biggest movie franchise in history, grossing $17.5 billion since its emergence in 2007. Marvel has stretched into the worlds of TV and fashion, created global gatherings such a Comic Con, dominated modern day cinema and brought to light some of society’s most poignant social issues – and it is perhaps this aspect of Marvels’ success that Stan showed his greatest prowess, his consistent ability to stay relevant and resonate with his audience.
VOICE OF THE GENERATION(S)
Stan’s writing tackled social issues such as drug addiction, mental health, civil rights, stereotyping and racial inequality. In 1968, the same year as Martin Luther King’s assassination, Stan used his editorial page to speak to comic book fans about the issues affecting society at the time:
“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 for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater – one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen- people he’s never know – with equal intensity – with equal venom”. - Stan Lee
It was nearly 40 years later that Marvel’s Black Panther broke box office records and started a global movement empowering ‘black excellence’ and challenging racial inequality in the movie industry, creating conversation in mainstream media.
This ability to weave hard hitting issues into his work is one of the many reasons why Stan Lee will always be remembered as master of his craft and one of the most impactful modern writers to influence global pop-culture. The subtle undertone of equality throughout his work is key to why his work has endeared him to the youth audience of today, who place such a high priority on equality and social justice.
"If my books and my stories can change that, can make people realise that everybody should be equal, and treated that way, then I think it would be a better world." - Stan Lee
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