Variety

The power of Stan Lee

| | Updated on: Dec 28, 2021
image caption

Remembering my friend on his 99th birthday anniversary

Stan Lee was unquestionably one of the most influential creators of the twentieth century. His characters are the modern mythologies of our time, transcending countries and cultures and speaking to us in the primal language of human imagination.

December 28th is the anniversary of what would be his 99th Birthday and like millions (if not billions) of superhero fans in the world, I miss Stan “The Man,” Lee and I’m reminded of what his stories and characters mean to all of us.

I had the great honor of knowing Stan as a friend and mentor for nearly two decades, and eventually work with him to create his first Indian superhero, Chakra The Invincible. Stan was everything you imagined him to be from his numerous film cameos, animated voice overs and editorial pages. A giant of a man, with a warm, funny, energetic, and joyful soul matched with a keenly sharp wit. Having such a legendary persona, it’s hard to believe anyone could live up to such a myth, but Stan exceeded every one of those expectations in real life. Being around him made anyone feel like a kid again. Stan had a way to not only defy age, but to also make everyone around him instantly feel young as well. His genius as a creator was only surpassed by his kindness as a human being.

Indian Spiderman

Years before we started working together of Chakra, I was given the opportunity to work one of Stan’s greatest creations. In 2004, my fellow creators Jeevan J. Kang, Suresh Seetharaman and I created the Indian version of Spider-Man in a comic series called Spider-Man: India.

In it, we reimagined the character of Peter Parker, to Pavitr Prabhakar, an Indian boy growing up in Mumbai and dealing with local problems and challenges. Unlike the original origin, which is deeply rooted in science, our Indian version was more rooted in spirituality. Indian readers were able to see for the first time, Spider-Man bouncing off rikshaws, climbing the Gateway of India and celebrating Diwali with his Aunt Maya. Throughout it all we strived to remain true to the underlining core of Spider-Man, which is epitomized in, ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.’ While there has since been a multiverse of great Spider-Man reimagining’s done recently, in 2004 this was still a rare occurrence.

Though Stan was not directly involved in the project, I remember meeting him shortly after the book was released and being incredibly nervous to discuss what we had done with one of his most iconic heroes. As I handed him the book and told him about the story, my heart raced as I saw him carefully flipping through the pages with his master’s gaze. When he finally looked up, he had a smile that warmed the room and instantly put my fears at ease. We talked about his characters and his belief that creators around the world could build on the foundations of those stories. As a show of graciousness, he even signed on of the copies to show his support for the project to me — a treasure I keep close to me on my desk.

Working on Chakra

Years later in 2009, we began work on Chakra The Invincible, which we eventually launched in 2012. Working with Stan to create a superhero, was like being able to paint a picture with Picasso or write a poem with Shakespeare. It was quite simply one of the greatest joys of my life. Our mission with Chakra was to create an Indian character that would bring together ideas from east and west, inspiring everyone with a character that speaks to representation for the two billion South Asians in the world.

When we worked on Chakra, Stan would always remind me to focus on the simple human story and that “the powers mean nothing, if you don’t care about the person.” Stan’s characters have been so relevant for generations because he focused on their private lives as much as he did on their adventures. Having a superpower didn’t mean the character was lucky at love or had money to pay the bills. Powers didn’t bring them total success. Those human flaws grounded the superhuman abilities, or as Stan would say, ‘Achilles, without his heel, you wouldn’t even know his name today.’

One of our goals was to create a live action film for the character and Stan and I worked on numerous concepts of what Chakra would look like in film. Recently I was fortunate to partner with the amazing creative team of Orange Comet and their founder Dave Broome, to take those sketches and launch a collection of new high-quality 3D animations. The Chakraverse digital art collection was released this week on Beyond Life Club, bringing our Indian superhero to life in a new way that I hope honors what he wanted for the character.

For me, perhaps Stan’s greatest legacy, even beyond all the unforgettable heroes he created, is the lesson he gave us about how to live our lives. Work was never a job for him. He lived each day with a passion — an unquenchable desire to create that lasted until the end. He followed his life’s purpose. He followed his dharma. I remember Stan said the following in an interview, which epitomised the way he lived:

“I think if you enjoy what you do it’s like playing and you can’t stop. Most men want to retire at a certain age. They say ‘I can’t wait to retire so I can play golf or travel,’ or whatever it is. But I’m already doing what I want to do. It’s so much fun”

As kids around the world dream of being Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and maybe even Chakra — there’s really only one hero they should aspire to be like — a kind man who spent his life creating universes and stories that will inspire generations.

Stan Lee was the greatest superhero of them all.

The author is Co-Founder, Graphic India

Published on December 28, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

COMMENTS
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.

You May Also Like

Recommended for you