Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by Steve Bennett on November 21, 2018 @ 8:04 pm CT
I have to confess that before his passing I didn’t think much about Stan Lee, at least the current one. Because for me, there were two, distinct Stans; Comic Book Stan, and Movie Stan. Being old enough to have bought issues of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man and The Uncanny X-Men off of a grocery store comic book spinner, I thought a great deal of the man who wrote those comics. It was hard to reconcile Smilin’ Stan Lee with the guy who made cameos in Marvel movies.
Not that there was anything wrong with Movie Stan; I’m on record as loving Marvel movies, like I loved his cameos in them. And it’s not that I begrudged Mr. Lee his late-in-life Hollywood success or even one second that he spent in the spotlight; he deserved every bit of it. It was just hard for me to accept Stan "The Man" Lee was the same Stan Lee whose name who appeared in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter in announcement after announcement of yet another new superhero project. Most of which never happened. Like his multiple attempts to turn celebrities (David and Victoria Beckham, Ringo Starr, Paris Hilton, Hugh Hefner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc.) into superheroes.
But of course, there was only one Stan Lee, something I only realized when I saw the reaction to his passing. It wasn’t just the comics world or Hollywood in mourning for Stan Lee, it seemed as if everyone was, from The wrestling world says goodbye to Stan Lee to Soap Stars Mourn the Passing of Marvel’s Stan Lee to LGBTQ Fans Mourn the Death of Comic Book Legend Stan Lee. And if it hadn’t been for "Movie Stan," most of those people would probably have no idea who Stan Lee was.
And the tributes came in literally from all over the world; Marvel Fans in Costa Rica and Around the World Mourn Death of Icon Stan Lee, Japanese Anime Creators, Voice Actors React to Stan Lee's Passing, Indian film fraternity mourns 'forever superhero' Stan Lee's death and Comics legend Stan Lee dies, revered in China.
It was the reaction from China that really surprised me. Being old, I remember all the "Red Chinese" villains Lee created during the height of the Cold War, but none of that was mentioned in the many stories I found about Lee’s passing I found on Chinese websites. Like China Mourns Stan Lee, Whose Last Creation Was a Chinese Superhero and Marvel creator Stan Lee’s last superhero is based on Chinese pop star G.E.M.
According to that last story, the superhero in question is tentatively named Jewel, powers and abilities to be announced, a pop star by day. Understandable seeing as the character is based on G.E.M., AKA singer-songwriter Gloria Tang Tsz-kei ("sometimes referred to as ‘China’s Taylor Swift’").
It also had this paragraph:
"Chinese fans took to Weibo (a popular microblogging site) to mourn the Marvel godfather. On Tuesday morning, "Stan Lee passing away" was the No 1 trending topic on the site, garnering more than 470 million views. Many related Lee’s death to the loss of Hong Kong martial arts novelist Louis Cha Leung-yung, widely known by his pen name Jin Yong, who died at the age of 94 last month. "Two legends of this era from two hemispheres are now together in heaven," one blogger wrote."
I could tell you what Stan Lee meant to me, personally, but you’d be better off if you just Googled the phrase "What Stan Lee Meant to Me." I really can’t add anything to that. Except maybe this. The headline in the Times of Israel story about his passing was Stan Lee, architect of the contemporary comic book, dies at 95. Stan had a lot of nicknames and titles, but I like "The Architect." It neatly sums up who he was and what he did.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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