5 Lesser-Known Ways in Which Stan Lee Made the World Better

In his 95 years, Stan Lee brought an unimaginable amount of joy to millions of fans around the world.

(Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com)

Stan Lee, the writer and co-creator of iconic characters including Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Daredevil, and the X-Men, passed away on November 12, 2018, at the impressive age of 95.

The man born as Stanley Martin Lieber, inspired generations of kids and teenagers with his fantastic stories of super-human power and ability and pioneered a more complex approach to writing superheroes. In the past decades, Lee rose to fame outside of the world of comic books, after huge Hollywood productions based on the comics he created hit the big screen and drew in a global audience.

While there is little left to write about his many achievements in the world of entertainment, we collected a few lesser-known facts about the positive impact Lee's incredible wealth of work has had on the world.


1. He Stood Up For What He Believed Was Right

  1. In 1971, Lee was contacted by an official of the National Institute of Mental Health who asked him about putting an anti-drug message in one of his comic books. Lee came up with a story arc for The Amazing Spider-Man #96 that involved Peter Parker's best friend Harry abusing pills because of a break-up.

    At the time, every comic book publisher had to get approval from the Comics Code Authority before publishing their issue. Because if its staunch opposition to any mentions of drugs, the CCA would not approve the story with their seal, but Lee convinced his publisher, Martin Goodman, to run the comic anyway.

    “We can't keep our heads in the sand,” Lee told the New York Times in 1971. “I said that if this story would help one kid anywhere in the world not to try drugs or to lay off drugs one day earlier, then it's worth it rather than waiting for the code authority to give permission.”

    Lee and Marve's daring step to publish a full three stories without the CCA's approval actually led to the code being revised that same year to clarify that drug addiction could be mentioned as long as it was portrayed “as a vicious habit.”

(Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com)

2. He Made a Huge Contribution to the American Heritage Center

  1. Between 1981 and 2001, Stan Lee donated large portions of his personal effects to the American Heritage Center (AHC) at the University of Wyoming, all of which are accessible to the public.

    His collection includes early twentieth century comics, manuscripts of his columns, fan mail, photos, audiovisual materials, business correspondence, and financial records. Currently, the collection consists of 196 boxes.

3. He Introduced the First Superhero of African Descent in Mainstream American Comics

  1. Black Panther, the comic on which the 2017 movie is based, is often credited to Marvel artist Jack Kirby, but it is generally accepted that Stan Lee, who was Marvel's editor at the time, signed off on the artwork and created the story.

    The Black Panther first appeared in an issue of Fantastic Four in 1966 - only two years after the Civil Rights Act was signed into effect and while the Civil Rights Movement was still in full swing.

(Sarunyu L / Shutterstock.com)

4. The X-Men Were Created as an Allegory for the Struggle for Civil Rights

  1. There is not a child today that doesn't know the story of the X-Men. Since 2000, 11 movies from the X-Men universe have been released with great success, and another 10 are likely to come in the next few years. 

    The characters, also created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, first appeared in The X-Men #1 in 1963 and are widely credited to be an allegory for the struggle for Civil Rights.

    The mutants, who struggle with having superpowers, are constantly facing prejudice from hostile humans and have to fight for their recognition. “The main objective was to show that bigotry is a terrible thing,” Lee said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “If you needed an objective for a superhero story!”

(Faiz Zaki / Shutterstock.com)

5. The Stan Lee Foundation Promotes Diversity, National Literacy, Culture, and the Arts

The Stan Lee Foundation was founded in 2010 to focus on literacy, education, and the arts. Its stated goals include supporting programs and ideas that improve access to literacy resources, promote diversity, national literacy, culture, and the arts, as well as embrace innovation, integrity, and scholarly and artistic engagement to build a community of learners, collaborators, and creators.

"I started the Stan Lee Foundation for one main purpose: to do whatever I could to fight illiteracy in children," Lee told the Washington Post. "Any child who grows up illiterate, unable to read and write — or even semi-literate — can be considered handicapped."

(Sam Aronov / Shutterstock.com)