How one of entertainment’s greatest visionaries set the agenda for heroic innovation
This week, we lost possibly the most influential figure ever in superhero fiction. At the age of 95, Stan Lee remained a beloved hero to comic book and cinema fans everywhere.
During his long career, Stan created many of the most memorable and iconic characters in the genre. From the web-slinging athleticism of Spider-Man, to the furiously formidable Hulk; from the god-like glory of Thor to ensemble pieces The Avengers, X-Men and Black Panther – the products of Stan Lee’s colourful imagination have stood the test of time (and numerous movie franchises).
For many years, the extraordinary talents that made his heroes and heroines stand out from the crowd were just that: extraordinary, out of reach, impossible. Would-be crime fighters had to be content with makeshift capes and toys that didn’t really do much to replicate their namesakes’ amazing powers and gadgets. However, as technology advances at lightning pace, some of Stan’s ideas are finally stepping out of fantastic fiction and into the real world.
For example, Iron Man’s armoured flying suit is probably the most coveted bit of hardware in the comic book canon and as a result, attempts to replicate it have been ongoing for a long time. From enthusiastic hobbyists to the military and even vehicle manufacturers, it seems that everyone is racing to become the first real life Tony Stark.
Regardless of whether we ever see a true Iron Man or Spider-Man swooping across our skies, many of Stan’s stories had a message to which innovators in any field can relate. His characters often tended to have one thing in common: they were visionaries with special potential, but for one reason or another, they often found themselves on the outer edges of the crowd, fighting the odds to pursue their dreams. And of course, with great power comes great responsibility…
Goodbye, Stan Lee. We salute you.