The team behind Stan Lee has responded to critical remarks made about the comic book legend’s legacy by Bill Maher.
Sharp-tongued political commentator Maher posted on the blog of his US show Real Time With Bill Maher, saying that Lee “inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie.”
He went on to criticise comic books in general, stating that adults have “pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature.”
He added: “Now, I have nothing against comic books – I read them now and then when I was a kid and I was all out of Hardy Boys. But the assumption everyone had back then, both the adults and the kids, was that comics were for kids, and when you grew up you moved on to big-boy books without the pictures.”
Lee’s Marvel team POW! posted a measured open letter branding Maher’s comments “disgusting”.
“One lesson Stan taught so many of us was tolerance and respect, and thanks to that message, we are grateful that we can say you have a right to your opinion that comics are childish and unsophisticated,” it read. “Many said the same about Dickens, Steinbeck, Melville and even Shakespeare.”
POW! argued that people like Lee “make us feel, make us think and teach us lessons that hopefully make us better human being,“ continuing: ”Countless people can attest to how Stan inspired them to read, taught them that the world is not made up of absolutes, that heroes can have flaws and even villains can show humanity within their souls.”
Lee passed away at the age of 95 in Los Angeles on 12 November. His death sparked an outpouring of love from people whose lives have been touched by the characters he created, including Spider-Man, Hulk and the original X-Men. Actors Robert Downey Jr, Chris Pratt and Captain America star Chris Evans led the widespread tributes.
The comic book icon co-created Marvel in 1961 with The Fantastic Four, designed to appeal to an older audience at a time when comic books were mostly read by children.