On November 12th, Stan Lee—arguably the most influential comic-book creator—passed away at the age of 95 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, Los Angeles, California. In the past years, he had been affected by pneumonia and had vision problems, says the official statement issued by JC Lee, daughter of the writer.

Stan Lee is the creator of iconic characters such as Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Avengers. These heroes have defined generations of readers and pop-culture as a whole, while constantly fighting for social awareness, not only in the United States, but in the whole world. Stan Lee is considered a legendary writer, and people even attribute him to be the “godfather of comic-books”. During the last years of his life, he became the symbol of Marvel Comics, holding the position of Marvel Chairman Emeritus.

Since childhood, Stan Lee aspired to be a novelist. His career began at 17, when he worked as an office clerk at Timely Comics, while occasionally making sketches and plot-twists of characters and stories from his own imagination. Two years later, at 19, he became the editor-in-chief. In 1972, Lee stepped down as a writer and focused on publishing work. In his last decades, Stan Lee had appeared not only in every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, TV series, animated series, and games, but also in the works produced by DC – Marvel’s main rival and competitor – such as the Teen Titans Go! To The Movies.

Stan Lee is known for the wide array of characters he created. Whether they were powerful gods like Thor or geeky teenagers like Peter Parker, they were human first and superheroes second. The characters he created became considerably influential in the life of many of Marvel comics’ readers; people aspired to be like the heroes they were reading about, hence creating a large and faithful fan base. Stan Lee’s characters were not soulless two-dimensional descriptions anymore, but became fully functional humans, with their own problems and thoughts; they became heroes anyone could relate to.

Stan Lee was an advocate of social awareness who openly denounced the wide-spread glitches of society. In Stan’s Soapbox and Marvel Bullpen Bulletins (monthly news and information page), Stan Lee addressed the issues of racial bias, gender discrimination, civil rights and other cruel characteristics of society. Several of his characters directly represented the values they fought for. As an example, two of his most iconic characters are the Black Panther, being the King of a powerful, advanced, and unique African country of Wakanda, and She-Hulk, a mighty lead female character.

In an interview for Global Citizen, Stan Lee described Marvel as “a reflection of the world right outside our window” and elaborated that “the world may change and evolve, but the one thing that will never change is the way we tell our stories of heroism.” For Stan Lee, Marvel storylines could serve as a platform to unite people regardless of their race, gender, religion, and ultimately serve as a weapon against hatred, intolerance and bigotry.

The influence and authority of Stan Lee as a writer is acknowledged by all comic-book enthusiasts. Upon his death, DC issued a statement underlying Lee’s influence: “He changed the way we look at heroes, and modern comics will always bear his indelible mark. His infectious enthusiasm reminded us why we all fell in love with these stories in the first place.

Stan Lee’s death brought together celebrities throughout the world through condolences and letters of appreciation written to Lee and his family. Elon Musk paid tribute to Lee in the twitter post: “Rest in Peace, Stan Lee. The many worlds of imagination and delight you created for humanity will last forever.” Chris Evans, the actor playing Captain America—one of the iconic comic-book characters—in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, emphasised the importance of Stan Lee’s work: “There will never be another Stan Lee. For decades he provided both young and old with adventure, escape, comfort, confidence, inspiration, strength, friendship and joy. He exuded love and kindness and will leave an indelible mark on so, so, so many lives.” Actor Seth Rogen as well praised the brilliance of Lee’s writing issuing the following statement: “Thank you Stan Lee for making people who feel different realise they are special.

Stan Lee was a visionary, a prolific writer, and a caring man. “We’re all part of one big family: the human family. And we all come together in the body of Marvel,” he claimed in the Global Citizen interview. His exceptional vision, imagination, and legacy will remain with us forever. Children appreciate the characters. Adults appreciate the creator. Thank you, Stan Lee. Excelsior!