Over the weekend, Bill Maher does what he sometimes does: He said something that enrages absolutely everyone. In a blog post, the Real Time with Bill Maher host decided that it was a good idea to trash the legacy of comics legend Stan Lee only a few days after his death. Now the Marvel king’s team has responded, and they’re even unhappier with him than were Lee’s untold fans.
In Maher’s post, the political commentator started by saying Lee’s legacy was that he “inspired million to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess.” He then essentially said any adults who read comics suffer from arrested development, that they should be reading “big-boy books without the pictures.” He concluded with the words, “I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important.”
The internet, of course, did not appreciate Maher’s comments, especially so shortly after Lee’s death, at 95, last Monday. Lee’s team at POW! Entertainment posted an open letter on their website, where they defended their late leader from his claims that he helped dumb down the public. Indeed, they argued that he inspired them to read and think and empathize if anything.
Their letter in full:
Mr. Maher: Comic books, like all literature, are storytelling devices. When written well by great creators such as Stan Lee, they make us feel, make us think and teach us lessons that hopefully make us better human beings. 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. Many said the same about Dickens, Steinbeck, Melville and even Shakespeare.
But to say that Stan merely inspired people to “watch a movie” is in our opinion frankly disgusting. 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. He gave us the X-Men, Black Panther, Spider-Man and many other heroes and stories that offered hope to those who felt different and bullied while inspiring countless to be creative and dream of great things to come.
These are but a few of the things we the fans of Stan Lee also consider “adulting,” because life both as a child and grown-up can indeed be a struggle. Stan is the author of millions of happy childhood memories and the provider of so many of the positive tools of adulthood.
Our shock at your comments makes us want to say “‘Nuff said, Bill,” but instead we will rely on another of Stan’s lessons to remind you that you have a powerful platform, so please remember: “With great power there must also come — great responsibility!”
— Team Stan