Real Meaning Behind Stan Lee’s ‘Excelsior’ Catchphrase

by : Tom Percival on : 13 Nov 2018 15:18

Stan Lee will be remembered for his incredible contribution to pop culture, his boundless enthusiasm and his peculiar, but endearing, catchphrase, ‘Excelsior!’


The phrase became synonymous with the late comicbook publisher in the late 1960s when Stan would sign off his monthly column, called ‘Stan’s Soapbox’, with the exclamation ‘Excelsior!’

Ever the showman Stan claimed to have stumbled across the phrase, which also serves as the New York State motto while trying to coin a catchphrase the competition couldn’t copy.

Stan told Gizmodo:

I used to have a lot of expressions that I would end my comic book columns with: ‘Hang Loose’, ‘Face Front’, ‘Nuff Said’, and I found that the competition was always imitating them and using them.

So, I said I’m going to get one expression that they’re not going to know what it means, and they won’t know how to spell it. ‘And that’s where ‘Excelsior’ came from, and they never did take up on it, thank goodness.’


But what does ‘Excelsior’ actually mean? Well, who better to explain than Stan himself who revealed the word’s meaning to everyone on Twitter back in 2010.

Stan tweeted:

What does ‘Excelsior” mean?’ ‘[It means] Upward and onward to greater glory! That’s what I wish you whenever I finish tweeting! Excelsior!’

Stan Lee died yesterday after suffering a medical emergency and being taken to Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was declared dead shortly afterwards.

Colleagues and fans took to the Internet in their hundreds last night to pay respect to the man who helped bring about the comicbook renaissance, using the hashtag ‘Excelsior’ in tribute.

Stan Lee tributeStan Lee tributeGetty

The Captain America and Avengers star Chris Evans led the tributes to Stan claiming that for decades Lee provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy.


Meanwhile, the President of Marvel Studios and the architect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe said: ‘Stan leaves an extraordinary legacy that will outlive us all’.

Other stars to pay tribute include; Robert Downey Jr, Zoe Saldana, Josh Groban, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pratt and Josh Brolin.

Hours after the news of his broke fans in LA flocked to Stan’s Walk of Fame Star, covering it in flowers and letters of condolence. One letter read: ‘Dear Stan, what a marvel you are, a cultural icon, you made many so happy. ‘Rest in peace’.’

Stan Lee is survived by their daughter, Joan Cecilia, known as JC, who also paid tribute to her father telling the celebrity news website TMZ, that her dad was ‘the greatest, most decent man’.

She later told Reuters her dad felt an obligation to his fans to keep creating, adding that he loved his life and he loved what he did for a living.

Stan Lee's starStan Lee's starGetty

Joan finished: 

His family loved him and his fans loved him. He was irreplaceable.

In recent years Lee had periodically suffered from bouts of illness including pneumonia.

Our thoughts are with Stan Lee’s friends and family at this difficult time.


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Tom Percival

More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism. Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV. He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.


Gizmodo and 2 others
  1. Gizmodo

    Stan Lee Shouts 'Excelsior!' At io9

  2. TMZ


  3. Reuters

    Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man and other Marvel superheroes, dead at 95