Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee has retweeted a 1968 column against bigotry, in the wake of the violent protests in Charlottesville, prompting a huge response on social media.

The 94-year-old creator of a host of superhero characters, from Spiderman to the Fantastic Four, said in the column his readers may not always get along with everyone they meet, but that did not make it permissible to blindly hate whole groups of people.

Lee retweeted the column called "Stan's Soapbox"— a part of the Bullpen Bulletins that appeared monthly in Marvel Comics from 1965-2001 — and wrote: "As true today as it was in 1968."

The move follows unrest in Virginia at the weekend when a car ploughed into a group of anti-racism protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

Violence broke out between white supremacists and anti-racism groups at a right-wing march organised to protest against the proposed removal of a statue of General Robert E Lee, who commanded the pro-slavery Confederate forces during the American Civil War.

US President Donald Trump condemned racism in a prepared statement on Monday (14 August). But on two separate occasions, before and after Monday's statement, he said "many sides" were to blame for the violence, prompting a wave of condemnation from senior Republican and Democratic politicians.

In his column from nearly 50 years ago Lee said: "Racism and bigotry are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today.

Stan Lee’s 1968 column "Stan's Soapbox" that appeared monthly in Marvel Comics
Stan Lee’s 1968 column "Stan's Soapbox" that appeared monthly in Marvel Comics

"But, unlike a team of costumed supervillains, they can't be halted with a punch in the snoot or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them, is to expose them — to reveal from the insidious evil they really are."

Peace and Justice

Lee told comic readers not getting along was another person was normal, but "it's totally irrational and patently insane to condemn an entire race — to despise an entire nation — to vilify an entire religion."

He added, "Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if a man is to ever be worthy of his destiny, we must fill out hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God — a God who calls us ALL — his children."

The comic writer signed off the column, as he always did, Pax et Justitia, Latin for Peace and Justice.

Lee's 1968 column came in a difficult year for America, which saw the assassinations of civil rights leader Martin Luther King and Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.

Lee, who has 2.7 million Twitter followers, has so far received over 23,000 retweets and more than 42,000 likes for the post.

"I wish @Marvel Comics still included a Stan's Soap Box column, they were always brilliant," said Matt@knight_falls.

Tim Brannigan added: "Waiting from 1968 until now to say 'I told you so' is a remarkable display of restraint."

While Michael Hathoot said: "I'm a 50 yr old fat man and I'm not ashamed to admit Stan Lee is my hero!!!"