Lee was known for his comics and superheroes, but he also had an incredibly deep wisdom about life.
Stan Lee, the comic book legend who helped turn Marvel Comics into a superhero factory and, ultimately, pop-culture juggernaut, died Monday at the age of 95. But while Lee’s perhaps best known for his colorful, high-flying creations — Iron Man and Thor, Spider-Man and Black Panther, Wolverine and countless others — he was ultimately a man of words. Most of his best-known superheroes were collaborations with talented artists like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others. Lee was essentially the story guy.
He told us, through Spider-Man, that “with great power comes great responsibility.” He reminded us, through the Silver Surfer, that, “There is only one who is all powerful, and his greatest weapon is love.” At one time, Lee wanted not to write comics, but the great American novel.
So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the man, throughout his long, long career, dropped wisdom on us time and again. Here are some of his best, most inspiring quotes.
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 – to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are.
—From Stan’s Soapbox circa 1968, via Esquire
Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.
I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.
—Part of Marvel’s tribute page to Stan Lee
For many years we’ve been trying, in our own bumbling way, to illustrate that love is a far greater force, a far greater power than hate. Now we don’t mean you’re expected to go around like a pirouetting Pollyanna, tossing posies at everyone who passes by, but we do want to make a point. Let’s consider three men: Buddha, Christ, and Moses … men of peace, whose thoughts and deeds have influenced countless millions throughout the ages — and whose presence still is felt in every corner of the earth. Buddha, Christ, and Moses … men of good will, men of tolerance, and especially men of love. Now, consider the practitioners of hate who have sullied the pages of history. Who still venerates their words? Where is homage still paid to their memory? What banners still are raised to their cause? The power of love — and the power of hate. Which is most truly enduring? When you tend to despair … let the answer sustain you.
I don’t have inspiration. I only have ideas. Ideas and deadlines.
—quoted from The Washington Post
The pleasure of reading a story and wondering what will come next for the hero is a pleasure that has lasted for centuries and, I think, will always be with us.
—As quoted in Insider.
I’ve been the luckiest man in the world because I’ve had friends, and to have the right friends is everything: people you can depend on, people who tell you the truth if you ask something.
—As quoted in Business Insider by Pulse
The power of prayer is still the greatest ever known in this endless eternal universe.
—From The Avengers #14