Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Stan Lee - Superhero? Or Supervillain?

Stan Lee has an interesting legacy. The man has been responsible for some of the best in superheroics, and some of the worst.

On the one hand, he has been the creative force behind (at least in part) Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk and the Mighty Thor. He created a remarkable take on the DC icons with the Just Imagine... series. Because of his influence on the course of Marvel Comics, he has been given a cameo role in most of the movies made starring Marvel Superheroes (including an appearance in all three Spider-Man and X-Men movies, plus Daredevil, Hulk and Fantastic Four, and even in Kevin Smith's Mallrats.) And, of course, he's responsible for my current favorite obsession - Who Wants to be a Superhero?

On the other hand, he has been responsible for Pamela Anderson's Stripperella, The 7th Portal, Lightspeed and this. Yeah, that's right - Paris Hilton as a superhero.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. On one hand, a little part of my brain is amused at the idea - although I'm a little ashamed to admit it. But most of my brain just screams "No Stan! Don't! Don't ruin your legacy like this!"
It's silly of course. Even disasters like turning Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson, Hugh Heffner and Ringo Starr won't be able to erase what superheroics owe to Stan Lee. Before him, superheroes were nearly perfect - and flaws that they had usually limited their superheroism only. Before Stan, we didn't see superheroes who had real problems and real character flaws. Without Stan Lee, there would never have been a Dark Knight Returns, or any of the other comics where we see our heroes deconstructed. And nothing he does now, no matter how foolish, will ever really erase that.
But really, Mr. Lee, Paris Hilton? If you're that desperate for people to turn into superheroes, I know that Levity, Nitro G, Cell Phone Girl, Monkey Woman, The Iron Enforcer, Lemuria, Major Victory, Ty'Veculis, Mr. Mitzvah, Ms. Limelight, Batsura, Mindset and the Braid would all be happy to offer themselves up as models.
(And I could easily be persuaded to do the same.)

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