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Stan Lee: ‘I Used to Be Embarrassed’

Claim

Stan Lee said: "I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives."

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On January 20 2022, an Imgur user shared a Stan Lee quote meme, starting with “I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer…”:

Underneath a photograph of a smiling Lee, text read:

“I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.” – Stan Lee

Titled “Miss This Guy’s [Spirit,]” the meme appeared by itself. No citations for the quote were included, and the post shot to the top of Imgur’s popular posts on January 21 2022.

Lee died on November 12 2018, making the putative quote at least three years old by early 2022. A day after Lee’s death, a Reddit user shared the quote to r/quotes — again without a source:

Bruce Lee Quotes (#shorts)
Bruce Lee Quotes (#shorts)
“I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while others were building bridges or going on to medical careers. Then I realized that entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. I feel that if you’re able to entertain, you’re doing a good thing” – Stan Lee from quotes

Search immediately turned up two credible (but not definitive) sources for the quote — posts shared to Lee’s official, verified Instagram and Twitter pages in March 2020. Lee clearly did not share these posts himself:

However, a prominent source was a December 28 2014 Washington Post piece, “Excelsior! As Stan Lee turns 93 today, here are our 20 best Stan the Man quotes” (updated on December 28 2015). That iteration included a bit more of the quote, and came well before Lee’s 2018 death:

3. “I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: Entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing. When you’re seeing how happy the fans are — as they [see up-close] the people who tell the stories, who illustrated them, the TV personalities — I realize: It’s a great thing to entertain people.”

Another authoritative source came from Marvel.com, in a joint obituary from Marvel and Disney. The quote did not appear in the text, but it was prominently featured alongside a photograph of Lee at the top of the page.

In January 2022, a meme shared to Imgur quoted Stan Lee as saying he “used to be embarrassed” because he was “just a comic book writer,” adding that he later realized entertainment was one of “the most important things in people’s lives.” The original source of the quote was unclear, but it appeared in a Washington Post article honoring Lee’s birthday. Marvel used the quote as a preface to Lee’s obituary, indicating that the commentary was accurately attributed to Stan Lee.