The world today hardly needs a reminder of comic legend Stan Lee’s contribution to our culture. The latest Marvel movie, “Avengers: Endgame,” is currently the second-highest grossing film of all time. A quick trip to Times Square will yield sightings of building-length billboards with Lee’s super-powered creations and about a score of people in bootleg Hulk costumes angling for photo ops with tourists. One thing you won’t see in Lee’s hometown of New York is a tribute to the man himself – but that might all change soon thanks to Change.org.
An online petition to the New York City Council demanding a statue in Lee’s honor is close to reaching its goal of 75,000 signatories. Titled “Place a statue of Stan Lee, dedicated to his memory, in his hometown of New York City,” the petition was created by UK-based fan David Gourlay in response to Lee’s death in November of 2018 at the age of 95.
While the petition is nearing the finish line, it remains unclear what this statue would look like or where it might be erected. We have a few ideas on that score.
Somewhere around Midtown seems like the ideal backdrop for Lee, as the current Marvel offices are located on W. 50th street – close to Hell’s Kitchen, where Marvel crusaders Daredevil and Jessica Jones live. When Marvel began, as Timely Comics, it was on 42nd Street near Avenger’s Tower and, during Lee’s tenure as head of Marvel and beyond, the enterprise always orbited around the area (even having a tenure in a suite in the Empire State Building).
Lee grew up further uptown, but pilgrims to any prospective shrine are more likely to remain near the city’s commercial hub than make the hike to Washington Heights. We also suspect this location would be what Lee – known as “Stan the Brand” for his willingness to spread his properties to the most eyeballs possible – would push for.
As for design: It’s certainly helpful that Lee was a man whose fashion never changed much with the times. Rendered in a monochrome bronze or silver with his trademark aviators and smile-bridging mustache, the statue could stand in for Lee at any age from middle- to nonagenarian. As for a pose, we could see Lee giving a peace sign as was his wont, slinging an invisible web in the style of Spider-Man or perhaps holding a pen aloft like Thor’s mighty hammer.
Whether or not Lee should be flanked by Spider-Man, the Human Torch or Iron Man we’ll leave to a designer’s discretion. We have but one non-negotiable term: Lee’s catchphrase “Excelsior!” should be etched onto the statue’s base. ‘Nuff said.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.