By Hannah Stryker
On Monday, Nov. 11, 2018, American comic book legend, Stan Lee, passed away at the age of 95. Known best for creating the heroic characters that represent Marvel Comics, Lee’s death has impacted many. Lee transformed the world of comics throughout the 1960s, after the Marvel branding began in 1961. His comics have influenced the pop culture world for decades, and continue to do so. Unfortunately, Lee’s reign as the father of comics has come to an end. The news of his death broke out on various social media platforms, with a multitude of Marvel actors and fans posting pictures of moments they shared with Lee.
Actor Mark Ruffalo, largely known for his role as the Incredible Hulk, shared an image on Instagram captioned “Sad, sad day. Rest In Power Uncle Stan. You have made the world a better place through the power of modern mythology…you let us be extra human…super human even. I am deeply honored to have been a small part in the Stan Lee constellation.” Ruffalo tied his moving words back to the recurring theme that made Stan Lee so inspiring: heroism.
Other Marvel stars, such as Chris Evans, took to Twitter to state that “There will never be another Stan Lee. For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy.” Evans addressed the fact that Lee created content for a wide range of ages to enjoy.
While a great number of people expressed their gratitude for Stan Lee’s impact, as well as their sadness, some used social media as a vehicle to channel their more negative thoughts on Lee. Rather than praising the man, some comments criticized him due to certain allegations, like a 2017 sexual misconduct accusation. Many, like me, were unaware of this fact and only learned of it after his death.
On March 16, 2017, Maria Carballo, a Chicago-area masseuse, filed a police report alleging that Stan Lee touched her inappropriately while giving him a massage on April 22, 2017. Lee’s attorney claimed that Lee was shocked by the allegations, which he then denied. Lee’s attorney also added, “The guy is 95. I don’t think he would do that,” referring to Lee.
Why was I only hearing of this after Lee’s death? Learning about the allegations confused me; I had always thought of Stan Lee as an inspiration, but I now have to consider the fact that he may have sexually assaulted someone.
One tweet made by user @sapphicroft stated, “It’s really upsetting to see people go to all these lengths for Stan Lee like he wasn’t accused of sexual assault.”
Another tweet explained “Stan Lee has been accused of sexual assault, he’s racist and he’s homophobic. So I’m not gonna mourn him, I don’t feel bad.”
In addition to learning about the sexual assault allegations, I also learned through Twitter that he had been accused of homophobia and racism after multiple people stressed these factors in their tweets. It is a shock to hear; however, I am not entirely surprised to discover this.
Others came to Lee’s defense by doing research and claiming that “the initial sexual assault allegations towards him were demands for his money, published to the Daily Mail, submitted by a totally anonymous source. There are many things that he did wrong. This is not one.”
Unfortunately, it is still unclear as to whether or not Stan Lee did commit the unspeakable acts that have been tied to his name. Although I am unsure of how to feel, I have definitely lost the utmost respect I once held for him.
University of Maryland freshman journalism major Jesse Anderson agreed, saying “He was, largely, posthumously remembered as someone who was remarkably creative and courageous in his fight against different forms of injustice through his work. While he may have pioneered certain efforts against injustice, we can’t forget that he may have perpetrated those same injustices in his private life.”
It is without a doubt that Stan Lee revolutionized the world of comics. From Iron Man to Captain America, Lee has produced a number of characters that represent heroism and power — an inspiration to us all. It is truly despairing to have to remember him as a possible bad man after having looked up to him for so long.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stan Lee’s Facebook page.
Hannah Stryker is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.