15 Marvel-ous Quotes from Legend Stan Lee

The creative icon saddened his fans with his death at the age of 95, but these quotes of his will continue to inspire.
Shelby Rogers

Stan Lee helped craft some of the most intricate worlds and magnificent stories in recent history through his legacy at Marvel comics. 

He died yesterday at the age of 95 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to reports. Little is known about the causes surrounding his death. However, the news sent fans around the world into a mourning. 

It seemed as if Lee would always be around, especially as he continued to cameo in every Marvel-related movie he could find.

Celebrities remember Stan Lee

From Iron Man to Spider-Man to the Incredible Hulk to the X-Men, Lee created stories that touched millions of people. He helped create the characters that captured our imagination and our attention. 

Current Marvel cast members expressed their loss online. Chris Evans -- the man behind Captain America -- said "there will never be another Stan Lee."

Wolverine's Hugh Jackman called Lee a "pioneering force": 

The current head of Marvel Studios and the man behind much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's success Kevin Feige tweeted his sympathies as well: 

Even the actor who brought to life one of Marvel's most controversial superheroes tweeted out at the loss. Deadpool's Ryan Reynolds kept his post short:

To honor his memory, we pulled together some of our favorite quotes from Lee. We've also included some of the most famous lines he's helped craft from iconic superheroes. 

Famous Stan Lee Quotes

The following 20 quotes are in no particular order, and this list certainly isn't comprehensive. 

1. “With great power comes great responsibility.”

This iconic line from Spider-Man was eventually attributed to Uncle Ben. However, in its first appearance, none of the popular characters utter the phrase. It was still one of the most popular lines from any comic book, and Lee and co-creator Jack Kirby's quote about greatness also became a legendary film quote thanks to the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man series. 

2. ‘Nuff said!

While Lee didn't create this popular phrase, he used it enough that it seems like he could've contributed to its ubiquitousness. 

3. “I never thought that Spider-Man would become the worldwide icon that he is. I just hoped the books would sell and I’d keep my job.”

Throughout the course of Marvel Comics' history, Spider-Man remained one of the most lucrative superheroes. Lee often spoke of just how surprised he was that the famous web-slinger took off as well as he did. 

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4. What did Doctor Doom really want? He wanted to rule the world. Now, think about this. You could walk across the street against a traffic light and get a summons for jaywalking, but you could walk up to a police officer and say "I want to rule the world," and there's nothing he can do about it, that is not a crime. Anybody can want to rule the world. So, even though he was the Fantastic Four's greatest menace, in my mind, he was never a criminal!

What's a great superhero without an excellent and challenging supervillain? Throughout his life, Lee praised not only the humanity of the heroes in Marvel but also the complexities of their nemesis. 

This quote puts that into perspective -- that sometimes the biggest villains in life are sometimes the ones who put power above all else. 

5. Some people will say, “Why read a comic book? It stifles the imagination. If you read a novel you imagine what people are like. If you read a comic, it’s showing you.” The only answer I can give is, “You can read a Shakespeare play, but does that mean you wouldn’t want to see it on the stage?

This quote could later be paralleled by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The films have grossed billions of dollars in the decade since Iron Man launched them. In the era before Robert Downey Jr. became Tony Stark, Lee understood that not everyone would understand why his superhero stories should come to life. 

6. I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people's lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you're able to entertain people, you're doing a good thing.

7. I try not to do anything that's too close to what I've done before. And the nice thing is we have a big universe here. It's filled with new ideas. All you have to do is grab them.

As of this writing, the Marvel universe contains over 8,000 unique characters and a bevy of different teams, universes, and storylines. 

8. The only time I go on the set is when I have a cameo to do in the picture. I go to the set and I do my little cameo and I meet all the people. It’s a great way to spend the day. And then I go back to my own world.

Lee often joked he wanted to out-do director Alfred Hitchcock in having the most cameos of anyone else in Hollywood. His cameos also never stuck exclusively to Marvel films, as he popped up in several seemingly random films. 

9. If Shakespeare and Michelangelo were alive today, and if they decided to collaborate on a comic, Shakespeare would write the script and Michelangelo would draw it. How could anybody say that this wouldn't be as worthwhile an artform as anything on earth?

Can someone bring this fan fiction to life? While some of Thor's comics have the grandeur and wit of Shakespeare, we'd love to see Michelangelo take on the illustrations and storyboarding. 

10. “Excelsior!”

Just like his superhero creations, Lee had a catchphrase of his own. He started writing Stan’s Soapbox -- a monthly column -- in the 1960s. He signed off each column with ‘Excelsior!’ and it remains his catchphrase.

11. The power of prayer is still the greatest ever known in this endless eternal universe. - The Watcher in The Avengers #14

This powerful quote comes from one of the most interesting groups of extraterrestrials in Marvel comics. The Watchers are one of the oldest species in Marvel comics and often showed up in the Fantastic Four storylines. The cosmic beings could augment time and space, molecules, energy, and showcased a wide range of mental powers. 

However, they often provided some of the most thought-provoking quotes in the Marvel canon. Kirby and Lee leveraged them to make powerful statements and guide the superheroes in the early years of the comics. 

(The group along with Lee made a very brief cameo in the second Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

12. “I don’t really see a need to retire as long as I am having fun.”

13. "But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance."

This quote originally came from one of Lee's Soapbox columns in 1968. However, he re-released it in August 2017, shortly after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia made national headlines.

Lee and Kirby's superheroes were constantly fighting the evils of racism. In fact, Lee commented several times about how the X-Men as an entire franchise existed as a massive metaphor for the troubles racism and stereotypes cause in the world. 

14. Just because you have superpowers, that doesn’t mean your love life would be perfect. I don’t think superpowers automatically means there won’t be any personality problems, family problems or even money problems. I just tried to write characters who are human beings who also have superpowers.

Lee always had a knack for keeping characters human. He allowed for superheroes in seemingly unrelatable situations to somehow be understood by millions of readers. 

15. Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.