Stan Lee has so long been synonymous with Marvel, as its most well-known creator, champion, and cheerleader that it's understandable that many fans mistakenly think he is Marvel and that he still calls many of the shots.
But truth be told, outside of being an executive producer for Marvel films and in a creative consulting role, Stan the Man has had nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of either the Marvel publishing division or the studio in years. He's a figurehead - an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, wholly beloved figurehead prone to talking to anyone and everyone about Marvel - but a figurehead, nonetheless. There are many, many people at Marvel who have kept the wheel turning and whose ideas and creative genius deserve credit, not Lee.
At this past weekend's Edmonton Comic Expo, Lee said as much, as well, when a brave (and rather morbid) fan asked him what would happen to the "Marvel industry" after he dies?
After answering in typical Stan Lee fashion, in which he joked he wasn't "gonna give a hoot" what happened since he would be, after all, dead, he got serious for a moment and gave credit where credit is due:
Nothing will happen. All I do is go to panels like this, and conventions. I’m not doing the books anymore. They have a bunch of geniuses who are doing great books, and great movies.
He paused and then amended, joking, "I will admit, we may miss my cameos."
Still, he's 92 years old, and it is strange to think that one day, there will be a world in which Stan Lee is not Marvel's most dedicated and charismatic champion, talking about the characters he's created and loved for decades with all the enthusiasm he did as a younger man. The show must go on, as Lee would want it to, but can he blame us for thinking that show will be a lot less bright when he's no longer a part of it?