To throw oneself into the world of superheroes, villains, and make-believe was and is a great escape for many of us. Imagining that we have super powers, that we have alter egos, that we can change into something or someone we are not, to not be limited, our lives were magnified by the ability to immerse ourselves in a world that as different than our reality.
Today, we lost a man that created a great many of those worlds. Stan Lee, creator of so many alternate lives, people, hopes, has passed away at the age of 95.
We thank you Stan for entertaining us for all of these years.
But was he supportive of our community? Let's look back at some of the more recent interviews and see.
The Evening Standard asked Stan Lee about Iceman three years ago. Iceman/Bobby Drake was created back in 1963 by Stan and Jack Kirby, but in April of 2015 in the All-New X-Men, Bobby/Iceman came out as gay. Lee was apparently unaware of the turn of events.
When he was informed of his character’s sexuality on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he replied: “I wasn’t involved in that, that may have been after I stopped writing the books. I didn’t really have any gay characters. If they were gay I didn’t play up to the fact that they were. I wasn’t aware of my characters sexual proclivities.” – standard.co.uk
In August of 2018, WGN radio asked questions about gay superheroes, like Northstar from Alpha Flight, Stan said he was not really familiar with that character and that he might be gay.
We had a character years ago who might have been gay. We had something called Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, and we had a character called Percy Pinkerton, one of the commandos, who was great, but he was a little bit less tough than the other guys, but we didn’t make an issue of it. We didn’t call him gay, he was just there.” – tearingdownthatfence.tumblr.com
Sounds like his answer was based a little bit on gay stereotypes – " a little less tough than the other guys," but do we give him a pass since he is of a much older generation at 95 years old? Was it similar to an answer our grandparents would have given?
But what about the recent reboot and semi-controversy over Spiderman? The Guardian shared their findings about a rule as to how Spiderman should be portrayed. Apparently it stated that Peter Parker should always be white, which did not bother Stan Lee.
“I wouldn’t mind, if Peter Parker had originally been black, a Latino, an Indian or anything else, that he stay that way,” he said. “But we originally made him white. I don’t see any reason to change that.”
Lee is also in agreement with the requirement that Parker’s sexuality should remain as originally written, but is open to the idea of other homosexual comic book characters.
“I think the world has a place for gay superheroes, certainly,” he said. “But again, I don’t see any reason to change the sexual proclivities of a character once they’ve already been established. I have no problem with creating new, homosexual superheroes.”
“It has nothing to do with being anti-gay, or anti-black, or anti-Latino, or anything like that,” he said. “Latino characters should stay Latino. The Black Panther should certainly not be Swiss. I just see no reason to change that which has already been established when it’s so easy to add new characters. I say create new characters the way you want to. Hell, I’ll do it myself.”
Stan liked his characters just as he made them. He was a straight white man that created what he knew. And that may be a point that was hit home in a NY Daily News post about three years ago. they shared that it simply never occurred to Stan Lee to make a gay superhero.
"That's something that I can't write about that much because I don't know that much about it," Lee, 92, said last week.
Though openly gay men and women now exist scattered throughout Marvel Comics, such as X-Men's Northstar, Lee didn't create them. – NY Daily News
So was he an ally? At a quick glance, we cannot see anything that says differently. He wrote what he knew. He created what he desired. He was a man creating alternate worlds and universes for us all to enjoy. We were able to jump right in and join him along his journeys and for that, we thank you, Stan. He may not have created any gay characters, but he did create a space where we could be ourselves.