What Marvel Comics' Stan Lee Thought About Death and the Afterlife

The beloved editor, publisher and writer died Monday at age 95

By Zach Johnson Nov 13, 2018 11:40 AMTags
Stan Lee, Larry King NowHulu

As the world mourns Stan Lee, the co-founder of Marvel Comics, many of his famous friends and colleagues have been paying tribute to him on social media—and one of the people to do so was Larry King, who had interviewed Lee multiple times over the years. "We lost a real-life superhero today. Stan Lee was a visionary, who elevated imaginations across the globe. I'm grateful for the time I got to spend with him," King wrote on Instagram. "Rest peacefully, Stan."

Four years ago, King asked Lee point-blank if he was afraid of death.

"I don't fear death. I'm curious. I can't imagine what it could be like, because I personally feel when you die, that's the end. It's the machine that the engine is off," Lee said on Hulu's Larry King Now. "But how can there be nothing forever? You know what I mean? I can't believe it."

With a laugh, Lee added, "I almost can't wait to find out—but I'm not in a big rush!"

Lee, who was raised Jewish in New York, revisited the topic a year later when he returned as a guest on King's show. Answering a fan's question at the end of the program, the acclaimed writer pondered, "If immortality existed, would I choose be immortal or would I rather be a superhero or a supervillain? Of course, I'd rather be a superhero than a supervillain. I don't think I'd want to be immortal unless it went for everybody. I wouldn't want to be alive while all my friends and relatives were dying...but if everybody could be immortal, I think that'd be fun!"

Marvel Stars React to Stan Lee's Death

Once again, King asked Lee, "Are you afraid of dying?"

"No," the pop culture icon replied, appearing unfazed. "Not at all."

Regarding the afterlife, Lee reiterated, "The one thing I can't understand, I can't grasp my head around, is I feel when you die, there's just nothing; it's like when you're asleep and you're dreaming. But, I can't imagine nothingness lasting forever. That is the thing that I cannot get."

Lee didn't view death as a grim topic—and he never did. "When I was a teenager, I needed work and I wrote obituaries of living people. Because, as you probably know, when a person is famous and that person dies, 10 minutes later the newspaper has a long obituary. Well, that was written in advance—and that's how you know if you're famous, if your obituary is already written. If mine isn't already written, then I'm a failure," Lee told King, joking, "Same with you!"