Determining Stan Lee’s legacy

Noah Kayaian, Staff Writer

Black Panther, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man.

These seemingly varied icons are all connected by one thing: Stan Lee.

Stan Lee was instrumental in changing literature, art, and in some ways, culture.

Born in 1922 to Romanian-Jewish immigrants, Lee did not have an easy upbringing. When he was 19, through a friend, Lee joined Pulp magazine as an intern in the comic division, Timely Comics, which later turned into Marvel Comics.

He quickly left to join the army and join the army during the World War II effort and come back two years later to further commit to his comic writing.

In the 1960s, Lee wrote a column for Pulp magazine titled “Stan’s Soapbox” which he used his position to express opinions that detailed anti-racism thoughts. In a 1960 edition, Lee is quoted as saying “bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing society today…,” yet again proving how Lee was progressive.
Another way Lee took a stand against racism was the creation of the now famous character, King T’challa, more commonly known as Black Panther which coincidentally, was created months before the Black Panther social movement, the two have no correlation whatsoever.

In 2018, the Black Panther movie released starring Chadwick Boseman as the Wakandan king and Michael B. Jordan as the anti-hero Eric Killmonger. The movie only had two pivotal characters who were portrayed by white men. It grossed $520 million in opening weekend, making it the ninth highest grossing movie of all time. Furthermore, Lee was able to capitalize off the increase in popularity of his characters. One of the first to do so, Lee passed with an estimated net worth of $40 million. He also created a charity called the Stan Lee foundation, which provided art and literature programs all over the world to less fortunate communities, further showing how much of an impact Lee had across the globe, not just socially.

Lee’s health took a turn for the worse in 2017 when his wife of 70 years, Joan, passed away. Shortly after, Lee was put in a nursing home. In said nursing home, Lee was accused by multiple nurses of sexual misconduct. This put Lee’s legacy under fire. People were distraught by the fact that such an iconic person, had committed such a heinous act. Not only was Lee’s legacy tarnished, but his credibility was as well.

After his passing, people were quick to celebrate his accomplishments and to ignore his negative acts, such as the misconduct at the nursing home. That being said, after death, most people are remembered for their positive aspects of their lives and not just mistakes. Only in recent years have we had to balance one’s accomplishments and how they were accused. Lee’s death is one of the first circumstances that I came across where a life had so many accomplishments but had a serious accusation prior to his death.

According to CNN, in early 2018, Lee and his daughter won an elder abuse case against his supposed caretaker and memorabilia collector, Keya Morgan, after he took advantage of Lee after the death of Lee’s wife. Lee has been portrayed as an icon to many for decades and has continued to be seen this way after his death. While we may remember Lee for his iconic cameos and intense action scenes, we must not let certain people’s stories go unheard, no matter how they affect another person’s legacy.