By: Chaz McDonald

Today the world lost a great man. Stan Lee, the founder of Marvel comics and king of cameos, passed away at the age of 95.

For decades,  Stan Lee captivated readers by creating complex characters and intriguing stories. He shaped generations with a mythology that rivals that of the ancient Greeks. He gave us heroes such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Thor, the Incredible Hulk and the Avengers. Stan Lee was not only known for creating stories of good versus evil, but became famous for his cameos. In almost every Marvel movie, Stan made an appearance. He would show up in the background of a scene, have a funny line or when the hero needed it the most, he would have a line of encouragement. His cameos were not exclusive to just movies as Stan Lee has appeared in television and video games, most recently PS4’s Spider-Man released earlier this year.

In 2013, at the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con, I had the opportunity to meet a lifelong hero of mine, Mr.  Stan Lee. While our encounter was brief, I will never forget the experience. I was able to get his autograph and a photo op with him. I fanboyed like never before and I think him for all of the entertainment he had provided me in my life. Being physically disabled has made my life challenging, but I was always able to find an escape whenever I got to read comics or watch any of the Marvel properties. I will never forget the smile on his face or him telling me “that is wonderful and I am so happy that you enjoy my heroes.”

A future without Stan Lee is difficult to process. We all knew that the time would come when we would no longer see Stan Lee appear in our favorite superhero movies. Now that that time is here, it feels like our world has lost something spectacular. We will always remember Stan Lee and continue to live by the examples he set with his characters and stories.

Stan Lee was an impossible marvel amongst men, who gave us a plethora of unforgettable characters that were able to evolve through time into continually necessary heroes. Not only did he create heroes that we could trust and depend on to fight for what is right, but he himself stood as a figure willing to fight against the injustices in the world. “Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance.” Thank you, Stan Lee. You will never be forgotten. –Jessica Marie Nichols

A Native American proverb says: “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” A truer statement could not be applied to Stan Lee. Our modern culture and storytelling as a whole would not be the same if not for the influence of this giant among men. Stan Lee was born Stanley Lieber, he chose to go by Stan Lee in the comic book business in order to save his true name for when he wrote the great American novel. If only he had known at that early period of his life that he would found a great American phenomenon and change the world forever. –Jon Lauer

As someone who has relied heavily on the escapism that fantasy and superhero universes have created, I have always been grateful for what Stan Lee brought to this broken world. Powerful stories with captivating characters… yet still grounded in reality, making it hit close to home. My heart is hurting with millions of others tonight, though his stories will be cherished and continue to change peoples’ lives. Stan Lee, you will be missed. –Marlis Tasker

In nerd culture, there are celebrities, there are heroes, then there are legends. Stan Lee is, and will always be one of those legends. He helps give a moral compass to those who’s might be broken. From writing WWII videos for troops with Dr Seuss, to creating the all American family with The Fantastic Four, he has always stood for what he believes, and done the right thing. A long, healthy, monogamous marriage, an long, healthy, successful career. He had it all, and we are better because of him. –Sean Tasker

Rest in peace, Stan Lee. You have earned it.

Excelsior!!!

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