News broke last night of Stan Lee's passing, thousands of posts, tweets, instagram pictures, youtube videos and messages condolence set the internet alight with the image of Mr Marvel himself.
The mental state of mind, on my own journey last night from hearing the news went from disbelief, to shock, then emptiness to thankfulness. For a man I never got to meet, nor spoke to I still shed a tear with a lump in my throat. Really odd feeling, asking myself why am I crying?
It's because of the impact he's had on my life. A simple thing such as a Marvel Character bringing so many people together, sharing experiences, stories life lessons, of which I myself have shared with my son.
On reflection on reading as many of the touching heartfelt stories as I could until the early hours of the morning it was apparent that Marvel wasn't just a hobby or interest but a way of life. For many people, Marvel in comic, tv series, film and toys shaped the way many of the fans grew up from child to teen, to adult.
Growing up my first introduction to Marvel was the animated X Men Series, Spider-Man the animated series to which both programmes didn't focus on good vs evil but the identification with the characters. All "Heroes' set in these shows had their crosses to bare, Spider-Man, super human strength, super human agility, swing through the air above the city of New York but couldn't balance his personal life, money troubles at home, hiding his secret life from friends and family and was hated by some for trying to do good. The X-Men, Shoot lasers from their eyes, could fly, could make ice slides on command, could read peoples minds and move things telepathically with the X gene each member were born with, but at the same time hated and feared by normal people.
As an introvert, wanting to immerse myself in the world of my figures and not really interested in climbing trees, kicking a ball around a field the Marvel (and batman) universe played a huge part in developing my personally and way I approach life today. Life is hard but we all have problems that we could all overcome. I grew up with out a father died when I was young and went to live with my grand parents I saw myself as a Peter Parker, if he could make it so could I. Playing with my action figures it wasn't Peter in the Spider-Man costume it was me. Getting older and facing bullies for the way I looked or dressed put me in the shoes of a mutant, not my fault, wasn't my choice with the way I was sent to school and had to endure the taunts and comments which hurt deep down but you put on a brave face until you got home. Soon as I got home, TV on to catch up with the weeks episodes, figures on the floor and immersed in the make believe world where I was the hero.
The characters and collections we own, gives us an escape from the mundane day to day activities and reminds us even just for 30 mins of our childhood, putting ourselves in the place of the hero, wondering what it was like to fly, beat up the bad guys and move things with nothing but our minds (yes we have all tried it, and yes we have all used the force to open the supermarket doors at some point in our lives)
Reading posts and comments from the Marvel Legends UK members hit home as to why this hobby and Marvel are so important to some people, Life lessons learned, a way of dealing with stress, a common interest that isn't shouted about publicly for the fear of ridicule and embarrassment not being a "normal interest" for an adult.
At 95 years of age we shouldn't be shocked the Stan Lee passed, but in our world heroes don't die. Knowing he has filmed the cameos for Captain Marvel, Avengers 4 and Spider-Man Far From Home helps with the huge hole many fans feel today, fingers crossed Disney continue his work with Stan "the man" in mind at every turn.
His legacy and legend lives on in every Marvel fan. He made me and millions of others a "True Believer"