Stan Lee’s birthday is just before the end of the year. Since he died last year, on his birthday, Robert C. Cargill shared on Twitter a really cool story about Stan. Now, you probably don’t know who Robert C Cargill is – he co-wrote the movie Doctor Strange with the director, Scott Derrickson.
So, according to Cargill, at the world premier of Doctor Strange, one of Stan’s people came over to Cargill and said, “Stan would like to see you.”
That’s right: Stan summoned people, like a king.
So Cargill goes over to the great Stan Lee, the guy who literally invented Doctor Stephen Strange, Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme. And Stan says, “You’re Robert, the writer?”
Cargill says, “Yes sir.” Because when someone has the power to summon you, you call them sir.
Stan took his hand and said, “You got Stephen just right. Thank you so much.”
A small moment, but Cargill reflected on how that small act of generosity on Stan’s part buoyed him through the turmoil of being the writer of one of the biggest movies of the year, a movie that fans pick apart and fight viciously over. He said that, no matter what the Internet said, he was bulletproof because the great Stan Lee himself had taken time to let him know how much Stan loved his take on Stan’s work.
When I read that story, I got a little teary. Not just because we lost Stan last year, but because the replies to Cargill’s story were filled with people sharing their own stories of how kind and gracious Stan was. It turns out, Cargill’s experience wasn’t a one-off. It was a single example of a larger pattern of kindness and generosity to which Stan had committed himself a long time ago.
And he didn’t have to do that. After all, he was the great Stan Lee. He had people to summon people he wanted to talk to. We have all heard stories of THOSE celebrities – the people with so much power and influence they have become untouchable, living on another level from the rest of us mortals here on the ground.
But Stan refused that. He made it a point to be gracious and kind, to go out of his way to show regular people how much he loved and appreciated them.
When you ask comic book people why Stan Lee is so beloved, you will of course hear that he created so many of the greats – Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and Doctor Strange. But almost always, you first hear a personal story about Stan’s kindness and generosity.
Isn’t that weird? That one of the most famous guys in our culture right now – the one guy who’s been in every single Marvel movie – is best remembered not for what he created, but for how he treated others?
That’s not how we usually think about power, fame and glory, but it’s the truest thing in the world. So today, we’re going to ask what makes God so great.