Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time,” faced widespread criticism Saturday for a blog post in which he mocked those mourning Lee who “pretended” that comic books are “sophisticated literature.”
Lee’s Nov. 12 death at age 95 inspired hundreds of heartfelt social media tributes, and caused a 1968 column he wrote denouncing racism to go viral again.
But Maher had a different take. “The guy who created Spider-Man and the Hulk has died, and America is in mourning,” he wrote. “Deep, deep mourning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess.”
POW! hit back Monday with an open letter, in which it called Maher’s 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,” the company’s letter added.
It also repeated one of Lee’s most iconic lines — “With great power there must also come — great responsibility!” — to urge Maher to use his platform wisely. Maher hasn’t responded.
Here is the open 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