When the news broke on the 12th November 2018 that Stan Lee had died, I was sat behind my desk at work. First thing that came to mind was Damn… Its Happened! Our worst fear as comic book & action film fans had suddenly become true! We had lost the father of our beloved superheroes, the man who cameoed in each Marvel release, made us laugh and cry for his characters and simply go what the hell at his completely random roles with brilliant one liners! Gone!
The outpouring of grief from his fans has been truly amazing. Movie Stars, Musicians, Politicians, Parents, grandparents & kids all coming together to remember Stan for who he was. The son of Romanian immigrants with an extremely poor up bringing who worked hard who grew up to be the face of quite frankly one of the biggest comic book houses in the world by gripping people imaginations and even been relatable to some.
Cosplays and Stan
This got me thinking… I’ve been taking photos of cosplayers for approaching 10 years now with well over 100 individual cosplay shoots to my name, safe to say, 60% of these shoots in the early days and even now have been in some way linked to Marvel, Timely or DC.
Only a few days ago at the MCM London Comic Con at ExCEL Centre, London, I was shooting with cosplayers as: Thor, Loki, Captain America, Blackwidow, Captain Marvel and even a Squirrel Girl. Every single one of these people wouldn’t be in these costumes if it wasn’t for Stans drive in the early days. His creativity and the hard work of his team lead in the early days to establish these characters and give the back bone of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Ever since 1962 when Stan Lee came up with the idea for Spiderman, People have wanted to be Spiderman! Ok so given we have not been bitten by Radioactive spiders, we can’t shoot webs and swing between buildings or even read a book upside down on the ceiling… but people of all ages want to dress up and pretend to be that character. I’m 31 now, growing up in the late 80s & early 90s I can remember as a child dressing up as Spiderman and having Spiderman action figures, watching the cartoons on Cartoon Network and even playing the video games on the Playstation/Dreamcast. It was my youth… Ironically my 5-year-old Cousin is utterly obsessed with Spiderman thanks to Spiderman Homecoming been in the cinemas recently and a new wave of toys been on the market has helped push the franchise forward yet again!!
Same today, Kids growing up with Iron Man, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant man, Dr Strange. Difference today is that these comics which Stan and his team developed are now Billion-dollar franchises in their own right. As these characters have become part of mainstream society, and the conventions are increasing in popularity, More and more people have started cosplaying and the stand out characters are usually the Marvel or DC. The joke that every other cosplayer was a Deadpool at one point still sticks in my mind having seen some 30 odd Deadpool’s in one place. That was a truly enlightening experience. And mildly terrifying! All that was missing was some chimichangas!
To imagine what a world without Stan Lee would be like you almost have to imagine a world without comic book characters. Imagine a world without: Iron man, Captain America, Hulk, Spiderman, Ant Man, Wolverine, X-Men, Avengers, Guardians of the galaxy, Daredevil and many more characters. Without these characters, what would cosplay be? Who would people be dressing up as? What would we be watching if Marvel hadn’t taken off? Without Stan I don’t think we would even have cosplay like it is today. Ok so the Japanese will have had some input some way with the Anime world and the likes of Studio Ghibli, but I think it would have been kept a far more of an Eastern past time and almost solely anime orientated.
I was never fortunate enough to meet Stan, I however know several friends who have met him. Not one of them had a bad word to say on the man. His last visit to the UK for the London Film Comic Con a few years ago was the busiest convention I have ever attended. Everybody wanted to see Stan and get a photo with him. The nicest thing about this though is he adored his fans in the same way they adored him. The day after he died, a video emerged on YouTube of Stan talking about how much his fans mean and influenced his life.
As far as I’m concerned Stan is the Godfather of Comic Fandom, but we could simplify to also being the Grandfather of Modern Cosplay! I could honestly not think of a higher accolade for the great man who helped bring comic book fandom through time and into the modern age! Without him there would be no big blockbuster movies and Disney would not have been interested in the huge buyout in 2009, and more to the point no drive for people to actually cosplay as marvel characters. Over the past 20 years Marvel has helped build a legacy in the cinema world that has pushed cosplay forward at a massive rate of knots. You can almost guarantee that most cosplayers who have done more than one Cosplay will have done a marvel character at one point or another. People always start somewhere and that start has likely been Marvel. With this in mind the realisation of how Important Stans legacy really is. None of this would exist without him and I tell you what, the world would have been a far darker place.
Stan Lee was a true a true legend who deserves every bit of praise and admiration that came his way! He will be sorely missed by all! Excelsior Stan!
Stan Lee: 28 December 1922 to 12 November 2018 (95)
Written and Photos by Will Satchwell | Will Satchwell Photography