BOSTON (CBS) – Since Monday afternoon we’ve been reporting on the death of Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel Comics who is considered the godfather of the modern comic book. But while multiple generations are familiar with the exploits of Spider-Man and his other super hero creations, let’s pause for a moment to consider the crucial social lesson Stan Lee tried to teach us – just because you have superhuman powers doesn’t mean you aren’t human.
Consider the troubled teenager Lee turned into his most famous super hero, Spider-Man.
“I tried to keep him realistic. And I don’t know of anybody more realistic than I am, so whatever little things worried me, I’d have Spider-Man worry about them too,” Lee said in an interview years ago. “The mere fact that he has super human power doesn’t mean that he may not have acne, or he may not have trouble with his girlfriend, or get a sinus attack in the middle of a fight.”
That theme of superheroes dealing with their own problems even as they tried to rectify the injustices of the world was sustained throughout Lee’s work. The Incredible Hulk fought a constant battle to control his inner anger. The X-Men were mutants who battled bigotry. And Spider-Man himself took on extremism and broad suspicion of his own actions.
If you’re a parent, you know the struggle – where do we find role models we can look up to, for ourselves and our children? Athletes, politicians, celebrities, they almost always fall short.
Maybe what Stan Lee was trying to tell us that we all can be superheroes to someone, if we understand our frailties and try to stand for something good.