I’ve been trying to think of the best way to talking about the passing of Stan Lee and I decided on something a bit different. Today I want to share a story that I think about often, means the world to me and wouldn’t have been possible without the creative genius that Lee shared with us all.
It was May 4th 2012, I had the day off from school, which was great in it of itself, but more importantly it was the release date for The Avengers. I couldn’t have been more excited and was ready to beg my mom once she got home from work to take me and my siblings to see (at the time) the biggest comic book movie ever made. Until then though I watched the entirety of phase one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Each movie was a thrill to watch that day and each film had different memories attached to them that I will always remember and always cherish. I vividly remember prepping myself for the Stan Lee cameos in each of them, I knew exactly when they were coming up and I would ensure that I was extra attentive during those moments. No matter how cheesy, goofy or disrupting the flow of the movie these scenes were they always made me happy and were something that I needed in each of these films. It really got me buzzing and thinking about how Stan would appear in the film I would see later that night.
After watching all of the phase one films back to back to back to back to back, my brother and I went outside and drew chalk on the driveway. Even at 14 this was something I loved to do, I always thought it was a fun art form and never got tired for me. I took one giant section of the driveway and spent a ridiculous amount of time drawing the iconic Avengers A. I colored in the entire thing and had a giant grin on my face doing it. Then my mom got home around the time I was finishing it up and I ran to her car and began explaining how excited I was to see The Avengers and how much it meant to me and that I had to see it that night. My mom isn’t generally a giant fan of comic book movies but does enjoy the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy and Logan, and wanted me to wait until my Dad had days off so he could take us instead. I nevertheless continued to implore upon my mom how much I wanted to see it and she did decide to take us. I am so grateful for that to this day.
There I was a short time later in the passenger seat on my way to the theatre. We got to the theatre after they had already let people in to find their seats (this was before glorious allocated seating) so I was worried we’d get stuck in the front and we’d break our necks trying to look at the screen. Thankfully there were exactly four seats all next to each to other near the back of the cinema. I slogged through the trailers and other ads and finally made it to the start of the movie. I was so giddy with anticipation and immediately that feeling of anticipation turned to awe and wonder.
As the movie began to wind down I started to feel that something was missing but wasn’t sure what it was. Then in a montage showing the world after the final action set piece Stan Lee appeared as always and all felt right. He simply looked to the camera and said “Superheroes in New York? Give me a break.” which created an outburst of laughter and smiles in the theatre. That’s the effect that Stan Lee had on the world. He simply brought happiness and cheer. It was such a special moment because everyone knew him and what he represented. This is something that happens at every Marvel movie but this one in particular stood out to me, likely due to my excitement building up since 2008 when Sam Jackson appeared at the end of the first Iron Man and mentioned The Avengers.
After the film ended I had a great trip home relishing in the experience I just had with my mom, brother and sister. My mom enjoyed the film far more than I thought she would, my sister fell asleep and my brother and I were losing our minds. It was a great experience and one that will always stand out to me.
I have countless stories like this one that can be attributed to the works and collaborations of Stan Lee. His characters will always be a part of my life whether it’s movies, comics, television or video game and through those he will continue to be a part of my life and many other fans lives. Thank you Stan for creating countless characters that I will forever love, thank you for creating stories that I could relate to and learn from, thank you for some of the best experiences of my movie going life. Rest in peace.