Graduation Year


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Arts

Primary Major


Primary Minor

Business Administration

Thesis Advisor

Cynthia Taylor, PhD


Excelsior was Stan Lee’s famous catchphrase which is a Latin word meaning “ever upward.” What began as a clever sign off for Lee’s comics became his life motto. Stan Lee has always been working hard in his life to create equality for all, oftentimes through his comics. This is the reason for the title Excelsior to commemorate Stan Lee for making the world a little more super.

This essay will examine the evolution of Stan Lee’s valuable contribution to the American values of equality, patriotism, and fairness through an analysis of several of his comic book superheroes, from The Fantastic Four up to the modern day Marvel Cinematic Universe. First, the focus is to analyze black and patriotic superheroes to see how they have changed over time and discover what their purpose was for society. Major ideas will be how each of these groups have been strategically used during different times in history. I will dive deeper by analyzing characters such as Black Panther, BlackWidow, Captain America, Iron Man, The X-Men and several more who have all had a deeper meaning since their creation.

First the essay traces Stan Lee’s emergence to Timely Comics which began in 1939 and later became Marvel Comics. Stan Lee was hired as an office assistant when the company opened and went on to become one of the most important figures in the comic book world. The year 1961 marked the transition from Timely to Marvel and the first comic written by Stan Lee ushering in a new style of superhero comics.