Bill Maher Responds to Stan Lee Backlash, Advises Comic Fans to "Grow Up"

"I’m not glad Stan Lee is dead, I’m sad you’re alive," the HBO host said during Friday's 'Real Time' while responding to the backlash he received for a blog post questioning the legacy of the comic book creator.
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Bill Maher (left), Stan Lee

Bill Maher is aware that his controversial comments after comic book legend Stan Lee’s passing in November grew backlash, but he decided to revisit the topic during Friday night’s Real Time

"To every person on social media who’s asked me since November, 'Bill, what do you have to say about Stan Lee?' — and to every paparazzi outside a restaurant who’s still shouting at me, ‘Bill, what about the Stan Lee thing?' Okay. Your day has come," he said. 

The HBO host famously wrote a disparaging blog post questioning the legacy of the Marvel icon, who died Nov. 12, resulting in Lee's company POW! Entertainment to post an open letter directed to Maher. 

"I posted a blog that in no way was an attack on Mr. Lee, but took the occasion of his death to express my dismay at people who think comic books are literature and superhero movies are great cinema and who, in general, are stuck in an everlasting childhood," Maher explained to his audience. "Bragging that you’re all about the Marvel Universe is like boasting that your mother still pins your mittens to your sleeves."

He further ranted that fans ultimately need to "grow up," which was the actual intent of his blog post. 

"You can, if you want, like the exact same things you liked when you were 10, but if you do, you need to grow up. That was the point of my blog. I’m not glad Stan Lee is dead, I’m sad you’re alive," said Maher.

He further quipped: "By the way, if someone says you’re being childish and you react by throwing a tantrum, you’re not Iron Man — you’re Irony Man."

After realizing how many "people were pissed about this post," Maher joked that he "wasn’t even aware I ruffled so many capes until I saw that forty thousand Twitter followers unfollowed me like that." His response to losing so many followers? “I say, 'Good riddance — follow Yogi Bear.'"

Following Maher’s controversial comments after Lee’s death, director Kevin Smith called out Maher for "taking a shot when no shots are fucking necessary," something Maher found comical. "My shot wasn’t at Stan Lee. It was at, you know, grown men who still dress like kids," he said as he proceeded to show a photo of Smith wearing a branded hockey jersey.

Continued Maher: "Can we stop pretending that the writing in comic books is so good? Oh, please! Every superhero movie is the same thing — a person who doesn’t have powers, gets them, has to figure out how they work, and then has to find a glowy thing. Justice League, glowy thing. Iron Man, glowy thing. Spider-Man, glory thing. Captain America, glowy thing. Glowy thing, glowy thing, glowy thing!"

He then commented on POW! Entertainment’s open letter to him, which stated that Maher has a right to his opinion as "many said the same about Dickens, Steinbeck, Melville and even Shakespeare."

"No, they didn’t! No one ever said that," asserted Maher. "No one said King Lear or Moby Dick was sophisticated. If you ever read a book without pictures, you’d know that!"

Maher then advised fans to embrace "adulting": "I’m sorry, but if you’re an adult playing with superhero dolls, I’m sorry — I mean, collectible action figures — why not go all the way and drive to work on a Big Wheel?"