You’ve likely heard the sad news by now. Comic book legend, activist, and pop culture icon Stan Lee has passed away, at the incredible age of 95.
It’s not an overstatement to suggest that the face of pop culture itself would be very different indeed were it not for the numerous contributions of Stan “The Man” Lee. He played a huge role in the inception of Spider-Man, the X-Men, Black Panther, the Fantastic Four, and countless more comic book creations that have long since transcended into the public consciousness.
Lee’s works inspired countless creators, from Edgar Wright, Neil Gaiman, and Jim Lee, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe boss Kevin Feige himself. At a personal level, I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today without Stan Lee and the heroes whose differences made them more, not less.
If I had a year or two to spare, I could probably sit down and list all of the TV shows, films, novels, records, and video games that Lee influenced, whether directly or indirectly.
If you recently enjoyed Infinity War, or the fantastic Spider-Man PS4 game, for example, then I’m sure you’re already aware that such products wouldn’t exist without the groundwork Lee put down decades ago.
But my colleagues have already deftly covered the life of Stan Lee, his contributions to the world, and the flood of tributes that have come pouring in for the great man, from all across the world, so I’m here to share a different memory of Stan, but one I’m certain plenty of you will recognise and appreciate.
Back in 2000, Spider-Man released for the original PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Dreamcast. Gamers of a certain age widely regard this as one of the finest superhero games ever made – certainly one of the very best Spider-Man games.
We were thrown into a beautifully realised 3D world that looked (at the time) stunning. This game was the absolute dream for any kid who wanted nothing more than to step into the wallcrawler’s boots, as they embarked on a quest that could have come straight from the comic books.
The story saw us fighting the likes of Venom, Carnage, and Doctor Octopus, all while swinging across the city, making quips, and just being Spider-Man like never before. This was a truly revolutionary game, and one I think will stand out as deeply important to gamers and Marvel fans everywhere.
This is where Stan Lee comes in, by the way. Aside from the obvious fact that this – or any other – Spider-Man game wouldn’t exist without him, one aspect of this particular game that always really stood out to me was Stan’s magnificent opening speech.
After the game’s initial opening CG cutscene, we’re thrown into the game proper, and we’re given reason to be very excited for what’s to come on our adventure.
As the camera pans across Spider-Man’s opening New York level in an in-engine cutscene that shows us just how massive this 3D adventure is, we’re treated to the following, brief monologue from Stan:
Welcome, True Believers and newcomers alike. Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee here! Once again, we find our hero Peter Parker – better known around the world as The Amazing Spider-Man -in a heap of trouble. But this is just the beginning, Spidey fans! So get ready for a true superhero action thriller, packed to the brim with thrills and chills, twists and turns, more supervillains than you can shake a web at and of course; non stop web slinging wall crawling action!
The whole thing is a little over 30 seconds, but I honestly think it tells you almost everything you need to know about Stan Lee.
This was a man who clearly adored his creations, a man who was excited and proud to be such a huge part of the Spider-Man mythos, but was also happy to pass the torch, to let other creators take his characters into new mediums.
I still replay Spider-Man at least once every few years, and I find it impossible to not get chills when Stan speaks and that music kicks in, because I know my adventure is about to start all over again.
Stan has appeared in countless games and movies since 2000’s Spider-Man, of course. As a six year old kid obsessed with Spidey though, and about to play with my idol in a 3D world for the very first time, I will always remember this particular monologue.
When Stan Lee introduced a generation to this particular incarnation of Spider-Man, he introduced us to a video game that so many cherish, and that plenty besides me no doubt still return to frequently.
I will never forget Stan Lee himself proudly introducing me to one of my favourite video games of all time. Whatever the future of gaming holds for the wall crawler, and the Marvel universe at large, let’s never forget that it wouldn’t exist without Stan Lee’s immeasurable contribution to the world.
I think that’s what his Spider-Man monologue really boils down to. For me, and I hope many others, it will serve as a constant reminder that the world and characters he created will live forever, whether that’s in a comic book, a video game, a movie or something else entirely. Excelsior.