Stan Lee: Imagining a Latin Superhero
Last week, the comic world lost a legend and our childhood lost a hero. Stan Lee was a creative genius who inspired his characters on the complexity of being human. The superheroes we grew up with were not perfect and that was the best part. He made them somewhat relatable, minus the muscles and great looks obviously, or that’s just me? No need to answer…The Marvel superheroes were created to inspire us to stand for tolerance and respect. All the evil in his comics were representative of the times and issues the world was encountering in that moment. Recently, his team wrote an open letter to comedian, Bill Maher, for mocking the public’s grieving of Lee’s passing. The letter addresses the comedian describing the importance and meaning behind Lee’s work – “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 […].”
Like Bill Maher, some people might think comics and superheroes are only relevant for kids, but we disagree. Superheroes are the imagination of creative and passionate writers like Lee, who hope for a world where someone could actually end the injustices we live with on a daily basis. With a simple line, he made this clear in his cameo in Spider-Man, “I guess one person can make a difference.” For us, he did. He made us dream of everyday superheroes and even a Latin superhero?
Since May of last year, there’s been some excitement about Lee’s working project of creating a Latin superhero. He announced this project during La Conque in Queretaro in front of 20,000 fans. Can you imagine how amazing that would have been? Sadly, Lee wasn’t able to finish developing the character before his passing. For the last few days, we’ve been imagining what this superhero would have looked like. Lee’s tendency to incorporate a bit of sarcasm and humanize the characters with real flaws, make us believe his Latin superhero creation could have been something like this…
January 1st, 1980. In a culture, where we are constantly mocking ourselves. The majority of Latinxs grow up to be very thick skinned. This is the first trait that we envisioned for Oskar. It takes a lot to upset him. He was born in a small town of Jalisco, where every year a Banda and mariachi festival takes over the town. He grew up appreciating music and the power of healing. He chose to study medicine in Mexico City, leaving the small town for the big city life. During his studies in “the capital”, there was a massacre led by the government in 1968 – the night of Tlatelolco. The fatalities were mostly students and civilians who were protesting against the authoritarian government. Why is it relevant? Right before the massacre, there was a rumor that government officials were looking for classroom group leaders to “silence them”, and you guessed it, Oskar was a group leader. Before he realized what this title implied, his brother made him fly back to their hometown to escape the imminent danger. The next day, news outlets reported many students had been killed and others had simply disappeared. Oskar pledge to never let this happen again.
He joined Doctors Without Borders in the hopes of saving lives and protecting the weak. He thought this could somehow alleviate the responsibility he felt for having left Mexico City the night of Tlatelolco. One day, Oskar was hiking along the Andes, but the steepness of the mountains made it hard to keep his balance. He miscalculated a step and fell inside a waterfall next to an inactive volcano. After hours of swimming and fighting against the currents, he managed to swim to land. He passed out and woke up days later with new metal fingers, feathers with ointments covering his entire chest and a hot, almost melted, arrow next to him. The not so dormant volcano had boiled the water right as Oskar was trying to hold on to an arrow by the side of the river in an effort to get out. His strength helped him jump out just in time, but his palms and fingers were completely destroyed by the heated steel of the arrow. A woman by the name of R. M. cared for him while he was unconscious. She was a local engineer with an interesting focus in health, wearable tech and metals. Day by day, she helped him get back in shape using water from the Andes due to its special healing powers and age defying chemicals. Don’t get too excited for him, he’s still aging, just not as fast.
- The power of healing. He studied medicine and traveled with Doctors Without Borders for many years.
- He is very charismatic. His biggest trait is to make people feel like they are the most important person in the room. Some people need that you know? Little pick me ups are good, remember not all heroes wear capes, you can do this too from time to time. Give it a try!
- He doesn’t argue. He just smiles and shows his opinions and beliefs through actions.
- Humble. Always grateful for what he has.
- Very versatile when it comes to music. Loves old school cantinas with traditional folk music, Mariachis, a bit of Elvis and Molotov.
- Whisky or a game of Domino anyone? He fights crime, but he still likes to unwind with friends, okay?
- Everyday weapon. None other than his mother’s chancla. A symbol of LatinX upbringing for many, Oskar was no stranger to this incredibly effective silencer. Don’t fret though, he only uses it with other males in his family.
- Outfit. He wears the typical tight superhero outfit for easy movement with big gloves to help protect his hands and cover the fingerprint lasers. Wondering about the cape in the sketch? Winter is coming.
- “Sorry no English.” Biggest weapon is pretending not to understand English to eavesdrop on important political conversations. In reality he speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, Valenciano, Nahuatl and Mandarin. Why so many? He knows where the future is going. He still needs to work you know.
- Embraces a “bad hombre” stereotype that future generations will use. This actually works as an intimidation technique.
- Weapon of choice? Thought you’d never ask. Times have changed and just like we multitask on our day to day activities, so does he when he fights. He uses many weapons – arrows; tranquilizing feathered darts; fingerprint burning lasers; and a bulletproof armed ready pseudo Maserati custom design ride.
- Why does he need so many weapons? Villains are becoming more ruthless and desensitized. Oskar fights violent hate crimes, social injustices and sometimes his cousins. The biggest threat he’s preparing for – a man-made epidemic virus trying to destroy diversity (and chanclas) in order to bring back the old times – 1950s nuclear families.
- Superpowers are always the best part. Since he is very humble, he likes to disappear to avoid attention. He can be invisible, run along the walls, move objects with his mind, has super strength and the power to heal with his palms.
Stan Lee was, and will continue to be, a comic icon. It’s a shame the world didn’t get a chance to see his LatinX character, but at least we’ll always have our imagination. Creating superheroes is not easy. We asked around to see what other people imagined a Latin superhero would look like and there were a few interesting responses. Check us out at @thereallatinx where we’ll be sharing some of the best LatinX superhero traits imagined by the people, for the people.