Comic book legend Real-life superhero Stan Lee passed away this week. While anyone's passing can be upsetting, this death feels like the loss of a mentor.
Stan Lee was the man that taught us that it was our differences that made us special (X-Men), that with great power comes great responsibility (Spider-Man), and that our struggles don’t define us (The Hulk).
In tribute to the King of Nerds, let’s have a look at what his most famous creations taught us about strength, resilience and being true to ourselves.
Bruce Banner’s ongoing battle with the green-skinned monster inside is Lee’s most obvious example of internal mental struggles. Banner hates living with the Hulk, his alter-ego turns his life upside down. But Banner accepts that the Hulk is part of what makes him who he is - even as he fights for control of his life.
Lee reminds us all that we are capable of owning our struggles and they don’t define us.
When we first meet Peter Parker, he is faced with the loss of his father-figure and is flung into adult life. Not only does he need to look after his widowed aunt, he needs get a job, finish college, woo his childhood crush and save New York City from tonnes of bad guys.
Parker is constantly forced to prioritise his choices. Does he meet up with Mary Jane for a date, or does he save a bus full of school children from being thrown into the Hudson River?
While we may not be faced with such dramatic options, we are in control of the choices we make. And who can forget Uncle Ben’s greatest piece of advice, “With great power comes great responsibility”?
The Uncanny X-Men is all about accepting and celebrating our differences. Are you a loner running from your past? Are you trying to live up to unrealistically high expectations? Do you burst into flames sometimes? That’s okay! That’s who you are and you are deserving of love. That’s Professor X’s message to his students at the school he runs for mutants.
While we might not be able to attend Professor X’s special school in Westchester County, if we look, we will always find people who are willing to accept us for who we are.
We will always have Stan Lee’s stories and his characters to comfort and inspire us.