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THE ERA OF EXCELSIOR

“I only wish there was more time.” – Stan Lee, With Great Power..-The Stan Lee Story

In the wee hours of Monday morning, a little before 1 am, I got a text from my friend living in Sheffield. “Did you see the news? What a terrible loss. Damn,” it said. Sitting up, I was immediately concerned. What had happened?

“Stan Lee is dead,” he wrote back. I immediately Googled it, and found that indeed, Stan Lee, the creator of the Marvel Comics universe, had passed away, and most Indian channels were yet to report it. Ten minutes later, I got a notification of the news on my phone. And all of a sudden it became much more real.

Once in many moons, comes along an individual, who is able to not only be the master of his own universe, but affect the worlds of millions around him. The man with the slicked back hair, and the tinted shades changed our lives forever.

Even if you don’t know him (you probably do), you know his work. There is quite literally no where to escape to from the universes and multiverses that were created by Stanley Martin Lieber. Arguably one of the greatest storytellers our world has been fortunate enough to witness.

The enormous Marvel universe, with fans in every corner of the globe, lost it’s father on 12th November, 2018. A loss that grows with every passing day, with every rerun of every show, and every screening of every movie that the Marvel universe has ever produced. Less than a month shy of the Comic-con event in Delhi, the Marvel community in India and the world over has retreated to mourn this great loss.

Stan Lee was responsible for creating so many of our childhood heroes. Icons that we looked up to and revered – Spiderman, Thor, Ironman, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and so many more. The most beautiful and eye-opening part of these creations being that each of these superheroes came riddled with their own shortcomings and insecurities. Capable of superhuman feats starting from swinging off rooftops, to crushing bricks with bare hands, our superheroes were also struggling with high school tests and the unending dilemma of whether we have light or dark inside of us.

Admittedly, I was fairly late to the party. I was 14, when I read my first Spiderman comic book, and now, at 22, I simply cannot imagine my life without the magic his works brought into it. As a child, I regularly went to watch all the Marvel films, and even watched them when they came on TV. Back when Toby Maguire was still playing Spiderman, and Edward Norton had taken on the role of the Incredible Hulk.

An avid fan of fiction literature, I lapped it all up faster than I did my school syllabus. And then I picked up my first comic book, and there was no looking back from there. The Marvel universe is so large and ever-adapting, that I never got tired of it. There was always more to come and even more to look forward to. After all, the master wordsmith, had spent almost his entire lifetime creating it. His boundless imagination gave wings to our tiny worlds, and took us way beyond our television screens, and paperback comic books.

I promptly became invested in the lives of Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff, Mystique and Professor Xavier, among many others of course. How they managed to save the world while still dealing with everyday menial problems like those of us mere mortals, will always be a mystery. And that is exactly what Stan Lee intended. He humanised his characters in such a way that none of it was ever too far off from the realms of imagination. While still fiction, it was something we all wanted to believe in. Tony Stark’s casual and nonchalant attitude also had a conscientious and guilt ridden side. Mystique was constantly trying to come to terms with her appearance and Bruce Banner was caught in his historical Jekyll and Hyde situation.

The sound effects on the glossy pages of the comic books were almost as real as the fight scenes we saw on screen. The ‘WHOOSH’ of Thor swinging his hammer, the ‘BANG’ of Black Widow’s gun, the ‘POW’ of Hulk’s fist and the ‘CLANG’ of Captain America’s shield were brought to life by the expert casting in the films. And the ever memorable cameos played by the man Stan Lee himself, were like little treats hidden in the movies. And fans waited eagerly for each of his appearances which only ever lasted for mere seconds. As it turns out, Lee had already filmed his cameo for the fourth Avengers film. As a fan, it feels like a last wish he granted to us, before his death.

Coming to terms with his passing, will certainly be hard for the fan community, but there is a feeling of privilege in our hearts. Having been alive when Stan Lee was still actively involved in all that is Marvel, is truly a gift.