This week for my scheduled blog post, I was planning to post the final review in my Better Late than Never blog series. However, with the passing of comic book legend Stan Lee yesterday, at the age of 95, I felt it was more appropriate to spend some time reflecting on Lee’s legacy and his impact on the superhero genre.

Even though I’m a proud geek, I have not read many comic books yet. It’s still something I’d like to get into, because I’d really like to learn more about the origins of the superheroes in some of my favorite films.

However, while I haven’t read many comics yet, I greatly appreciate the influence they’ve had on pop culture. The Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it today would not exist without those original comics stories. As much as I love the performances of actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, they didn’t create those superheroes — Marvel Comics did.

Wikipedia summarizes Stan Lee’s career as “an American comic book writer, editor and publisher. He was the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, and later its publisher and chairman, leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation.”

But what Stan Lee means to the world is so, so much more. He helped create beloved characters like Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, Ant-Man, Iron Man and Thor. That’s one heck of a resume.

What stands out to me about all these heroes is that despite their powers, they still manage to feel relatable. I’m going more off the movies and TV series, of course, but when you strip away these superheroes’ powers and/or armor, you find their vulnerabilities and a very real sense of humanity underneath.

The best example, perhaps, is Spider-Man. He is capable of feats I could never dream of — I’ll never shoot spider webs out of my hands or swing between skyscrapers. And yet, as a formerly awkward teenager myself, I can totally relate to Peter Parker. His uncertainty, personal struggles, and need to belong is something we’ve all experienced.

I’m so glad Stan Lee lived to see many of his characters come to life on the big screen. I’m saddened he will not see the culmination of all the MCU movies thus far with next year’s still-untitled Avengers 4. However, I’m thankful that he did get to see so many of his characters come together in “Infinity War.” Even 10 years ago, who would have imagined that film would even be possible?

I never got a chance to meet Stan Lee in person at a convention, but I’ve seen the outpouring of love for him from both celebrities and fans on social media. It seems like he is just as beloved in real life as his fictional characters are.

Although he lived to be 95, that time still seems so short. The Marvel films just won’t feel the same without those classic Stan Lee cameos, which were always full of humor, warmth, and humanity.

Just like the man himself.