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