To The Late Stan Lee, From A Writer Who Hopes To Work For Marvel Someday

To The Late Stan Lee, From A Writer Who Hopes To Work For Marvel Someday

You taught me that heroes are human, too, and that is sometimes the very best thing about them.

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Dear Stan Lee,

I'd hoped to say all of this in person to you one day, when I finally land a job at Marvel. In my mind, I'd see you at some event in passing and stop you to say thank you, for exposing me to this beautiful creative world of heroes and villains and pain and joy and everything in between. I would've thanked you for reminding me that my passion is valid and important. I would've told you how many years I've spent reading your work, and laughing at your cameos, and how many times I cried over superheroes because they are so undeniably human, even if they do have superhuman strength. I would've asked to give you a hug. I would've d let you know that I found my calling because of the stories you shared with the world. That I write comics to inspire others, just as you did.

Like you, I found my calling to be a writer early on in life. I was fascinated with the way heroes, in comics or not, could band together to defeat evil. You started to work for Marvel at age 17. You stayed there from 1939 to 2018. You've been helping it grow into what it is now for practically your entire life. I hope I can have a fraction of the impact you had on that company someday. You've been a part of my life since I can remember. Whether it was my brothers third birthday party that was Spider-Man-themed, or the books I'd check out from my elementary school library with colorful suits and heroes painted on the cover, or watching The Avengers or Spider-Man cartoons in my PJs on Saturday morning, or when my older cousin showed me Iron Man for the first time, even though we both knew I wasn't old enough, or freshman year of high school when I spent an hour trying to turn a fruit platter into a makeshift Captain America shield.

It wasn't until the end of my sophomore year of high school, though, when I decided that one day, I'd work for you. I wanted to work for Marvel. I was a hero on a mission. This was my quest. Then, one day a year or two after I'd pondered what life as a writer for Marvel would be like, I was scrolling through Tumblr, as teenagers do, and came across an article where you said something that has never left me.

"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."

I read that, and suddenly, I felt like I'd gotten all of the affirmation I needed. I felt like you were looking at me through my phone and speaking to me. The next day, I started my blog.

I got the news of your passing on my six-hour drive back to my school in Rhode Island. I'd been visiting a friend of mine in Maryland. During my time there, we took a trip into D.C. and I practically begged her to go to the Washington Monument and the Reflection Pool with me. Because for me, they're not just markers of United States history. They're markers in Marvel history, too. The monument, where young Tom Holland's Peter Parker saved his friends from falling to their death, and the pool, where Sam Willson and Steve Rogers cross paths in the MCU for the very first time.

Now that I'm in college, I've decided to double major in communications and film. I want everyone to feel represented in Marvel's comic books and films. I want to carry out your legacy for generations to come. I want to make you proud. Thank you for never failing to put a smile on my face. For empowering us. For making each cameo better than the last. For working so hard to bring joy to others.

I want to make sure that people remember Stan Lee as a real-life superhero because that is what you were, and are, to me.

Excelsior,

Bailey Rose VanderVeen

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Every Potterhead Should Apparate To Universal Studios Orlando

It's no Hogwarts, but it is a close second.

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It's no secret that the "Harry Potter" franchise has a large fan base that has spawned movies, video games, multiple lines of merchandise, and even a theater play in author J.K. Rowling's universe. Universal Studios Orlando decided to give Potterheads close to the real experience of Hogwarts when they announced a Harry Potter-themed park back in 2007. The Islands of Adventure park is home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade and as of June 2014, a replica of the esteemed Hogwarts express was built that provides transport to visitors in the Universal Studios Florida park which has The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley. Best of both worlds.

There are no words that express how a young (or older) witch or wizard feels when they first enter either of the parks. The only word that I would use that could accurately describe how I felt was magical. There was such intricate detail where ever your eyes landed on and one felt like they were actually walking through a wizard village. The train ride on the Hogwarts Express encompasses the Dementor attack from Harry's third year.

In both parks, there are sensors in certain areas that react with different interactive wands that can be purchased. You have the ability to create magic within yourself with a little swish and flick. You don't have to say the incantation out loud because of the sensors, but who wouldn't? I received my interactive wand has a gift the Christmas before I went and it came with a map with all of the areas to cast spells. While not interactive, the theme parks have replicas of wands used by an array of different characters in the movies. The theme park of Diagon Alley is home to Ollivander's Wand Shop (it is also in Hogsmeade, but supposed to be in Diagon Alley in canon) where Harry Potter received his first wand and wands can choose their witch or wizard.

Fans can try butterbeer and pumpkin juice! I can say that I have tried both and ended up not liking either of them (which made me super upset), I am still happy to brag that I had the experience. For witches and wizard above legal age, there is also themed alcoholic drinks at The Hog's Head. There is also the candy shop Honeydukes which sells sweets relative to the books and movies (Cauldron Cakes, sugar skulls, Acid Pops, and Bernie Bott's Every Flavour Beans) for those with a sweet tooth. Has I am not much of sweets person, there is The Leaky Cauldron located in the Diagon Alley park and The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. As The Leaky Cauldron is also designated as an inn, when you sit down to enjoy your meal, you can hear footsteps and luggage on the floor above your head. There are "potions" sold by vendors that are actually flavors to put into your Gillywater which is just bottled water.

A variety of shops adorn both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade with "Harry Potter" toys, souvenirs, and collectibles. Most of the stuff is expensive like it would be at any theme park so spend your money wisely. A collection of "Harry Potter" Christmas is popular, with House Pride stockings and ornaments. No matter if you are a Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, you can find it. However, I wore cheaper "Harry Potter" merch from Hot Topic and Target so I could still represent and not make a huge dent in my pockets.

The rides are to die for. With a total of four rides between both of the theme parks, my favorite would have to be Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The line queue is entertaining for guests (like must rides at Universal Studios) with Harry, Hermione, and Ron heading the adventures. I went on it more times than I should've because I had early access to the parks and there was no line. I did close my eyes when the Dementors came up the second time though because they scared the crap out of me the first time. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts has the Ukrainian Ironbelly on the exterior of the ride that shoots fire (safely) on a timer into Diagon Alley. The ride is an actual roller coaster although it is hard to see the track because of the size of the seating and the special effects. If you get motion sick, I recommend taking medicine beforehand as I almost hurled when I got off.

Even if you're not a fan of "Harry Potter," I guarantee the experience will be magical. If we can't attend Hogwarts, at least Potterheads have the creativeness of Universal Studios. There was so much thought and detail put into both parks that I am glad I had the experience to go and hope I can go again sometime in the future.

Cara Campanelli

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