Stan Lee died at the age of 95 on Monday. Throughout his life, the legendary creator of many beloved Marvel superheroes won fans over with his passion for storytelling and sense of humour.
He used comics books to touch on racism and inequalities, particularly in the X-Men universe. Lee’s interviews were filled with candid comments regarding his motivation, influential people in his life, and explanations of why fans are so fascinated by superheroes.
Here are Lee’s 11 most memorable, heartfelt, and powerful quotes from his interviews.
“I have always included minority characters in my stories, often as heroes. We live in a diverse society — in fact, a diverse world, and we must learn to live in peace and with respect for each other.”
Lee hoped that the RESPECT Initiative he launched in 2016 would encourage people to be more accepting and inclusive of others. He also designed special pins that featured black and white hands shaking.
“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.”
In a 2012 interview with Huffington Post, Lee weighed in on people enjoying comics through tablets and smartphones, rather than printed pages. He added that the online format “can be interactive in many different ways, allowing the reader to feel like a participant in the story.”
“If I’m half as good as everybody said I am, I’m far too good to be wasting time with ordinary people. But I seem to be spending my life with ordinary people, who are the best people in the world.”
“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.”
Lee and artist Jack Kirby helped bring superheros like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk and Thor to life.
“For years, kids have been asking me what’s the greatest superpower. I always say luck. If you’re lucky, everything works. I’ve been lucky.”
Lee didn’t create the Deadpool comics, but he does have a cameo in the 2018 sequel “Deadpool 2.” His face is briefly shown as a mural when the character Domino, whose superpower is luck, skydives.
“America is made of different races and different religions, but we’re all co-travellers on the spaceship Earth and must respect and help each other along the way.”
Lee’s accomplishments led him to become inducted into the comic industry’s Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994 and Jack Kirby Hall of Fame the following year.
“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 realise: Entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end.”
Speaking to Comic Riffs in 2010, he added: “I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing. When you’re seeing how happy the fans are – as they [see up-close] the people who tell the stories, who illustrated them, the TV personalities – I realise: It’s a great thing to entertain people.”
“All I thought about when I wrote my stories was, ‘I hope that these comic books would sell so I can keep my job and continue to pay the rent.’ Never in a million years could I have imagined that it would turn into what it has evolved into nowadays.”
Lee once said that he may never have written comics if he didn’t need to help his parents pay the bills.
“Just because you have superpowers, that doesn’t mean your love life would be perfect. I don’t think superpowers automatically means there won’t be any personality problems, family problems or even money problems. I just tried to write characters who are human beings who also have superpowers.”
Lee wrote his first comic after getting a job at a publishing company called Timely Comics.
“My theory about why people like superheroes is that when we were kids, we all loved to read fairy tales. Fairy tales are all about things bigger than life: giants, witches, trolls, dinosaurs and dragons and all sorts of imaginative things. Then you get a little bit older and you stop reading fairy tales, but you don’t ever outgrow your love of them.”
Lee also told the Washington Post that “superhero movies are like fairy tales for older people.”
“I don’t have inspiration. I only have ideas. Ideas and deadlines.”
Lee told the Washington Post that he felt motivated to write comics only if he personally thought that the characters and stories were interesting.
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