FAN EXPO: Spotlight on Stan Lee – Part One

Stan TorontoThe host of Space Channel’s INNERSPACE, Teddy Wilson, was moderator tonight during what was easily the largest draw for Fan Expo’s Thursday show. The ever-popular and always-sarcastic Stan Lee came on to stage to a roaring crowd; people ranging from grandparents to parents to children and grandchildren. The sheer variety of age limit within the crowd showed just how beloved Lee truly is. After all, he’s the co-creator of characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men and he’s nearly appeared in every Marvel film since the first X-MEN in 2000. After the applause quieted down, Wilson jumped right to it.

TEDDY WILSON: Did you ever think that the characters that you created would become so big in the world of film with the Marvel films?

STAN LEE: Never.

TW: Never?

SL: See, that’s why I’m a great interviewee; I give these long, interesting replies.

TW: So you did never think it would be this huge?

SL: Of course not. When I was doing those comics, I just hoped that the magazines would sell so I could keep my job and be able to pay rent. I never would have — if I had known that it would be that big, I would’ve become an actor! I would’ve been Robert Downey!

TW: But you are kind of an actor with your cameos in the films.

SL: I was supposed to be in Montreal today doing the cameo for (the new) X-MEN, but I said no; I’m going to visit my friends in Toronto instead. And I wasn’t in WOLVERINE because they shot that in Australia and that’s too far for me to swim, but I’ll be in most of the others coming up.

TW: Do you have a favorite cameo that you’ve done?

SL: No, I love them all. Every time I see myself on the silver screen I say, “Damn, I never knew that I’d be that good!”


At this point, Teddy turned to the audience for questions.


AUDIENCE QUESTION: I’m a huge fan of MARVEL VS. CAPCOM. I was wondering what it was like doing a crossover with Capcom?

SL: It was good. It’s one of those things where it’s fun and exciting and enjoyable… it’s what makes being in this business so enjoyable.

AQ: What’s harder: adamantium or vibranium?

SL: Oh, gosh. Well, let’s see; the last time I tested them in my lab… actually, it depends on who’s writing the story and who wants the one or the other to be harder. They’ve never really been pitted against each other and… of course, that would make a good story idea. I’ll claim that I thought of it myself, so thank you very much and I’m not paying you anything for it.

TW: In terms of coming up with stories and characters, could you tell us how you first started coming up with superheroes?

SL: I don’t even remember. It was my job; I had to come up with superheroes or I would have been fired, so I did it, that’s all. You know, when your boss says come up with a superhero and you figure that I have food bills and rent bills, you damn well better come up with a superhero. In those days, I didn’t think much of it. We were doing other books, too. We were doing all kinds of comics. We were doing of all things romance comics, war comics, history comics, horror comics… you name it, we were doing them. And then we found out that DC — which was then called National — that their books, the Justice League, were selling well. So my publisher said, “Hey Stan, why don’t you do some superheroes and we’ll put them in a team?” So, that was in order. I did the Fantastic Four and he said, “Hey, that sold pretty well, do something else.” And that started it. I didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t say, “Gee, why am I doing this? How am I doing this?” I just thought I damn well better do it.

AQ: For the singles and the married people, what’s your secret for a great marriage? What makes a marriage strong?

SL: Oh, now we’re on that subject. I’m in the wrong place. I don’t know; I was very, very, very lucky. When I was a kid, I always fantasized — I imagined — the kind of girl that I’d like to marry and hope that I’d someday find her. And one day, I bumped into my wife. She was the girl that I had been fantasizing about all my life, so I grabbed her. You know, she’s just great. Though… well, there are bad things about her; two things. I come to these conventions and I’m treated like a real V.I.P. It’s so terrific having audience people listening to me. I’ll make this brief because nobody pays any attention, but I go home after all of this wonderful reception and I go home and what does my wife say when I walk in? “Did you take out the garbage?” That’s not nice. It’s a funny story, she doesn’t really say that. She says, “Did you get it picked up?” Now the other thing, years ago, I wrote all these stories — the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk and so forth — on, what they called then, a Remington noiseless portable typewriter and all these stories were written on this little typewriter. One day, Joaney and I were having an argument and she’s Irish and has a hot temper and to prove that she disagreed with me and that I was wrong, she took the typewriter and smashed it on the floor and broke it into a million pieces. I said to her the other day, “Do you know what we could’ve auctioned that typewriter off for? And all the things I could’ve bought you that you didn’t get because you broke the typewriter?” I had my revenge.

AQ: I know that you’re 92 and I want to know what your secret is to living so long?

SL: Don’t die. I think it helps to enjoy what you do. I really love being with the people I work with — the artists and writers and directors and actors and people like that — and it’s fun, it’s not like working, so it’s like everyday I get up and I go out to play, so that keeps you happy and excited and if that’s part of it, I think maybe that helps. Also I think luck plays a little bit of it.

TW: You talked about creating characters. A character that you recently created is the Annihilator, a Japanese superhero. What can you tell us about the Annihilator?

SL: Well, I decided to do what I could to have better relations between China and the U.S. because obviously, you know the power that I wield. So I decided, I met some Chinese producers and we decided that we would do a movie together and I made up a superhero called… THE ANNIHILATOR! I love that guy and I did a shout-out to him because he annihilates. We’re doing it together — it’s not a Chinese movie, it’s a movie for the whole world, but the hero will be a Chinese actor who speaks perfect English and he’s very handsome for all you American and Canadian girls. Anyway, it’s called an American and Chinese production and we’re hoping it’ll be a real big movie. It’ll probably come out in another year or so. Just looking for a director right now; we’ve got the actor, we’ve got everything set. And that’s… THE ANNIHILATOR!

AQ: I just wanted to pick your brain about STAN LEE’S SUPERHUMANS.

SL: Oh, that’s the funnest show! Somebody called me once and asked if I could participate in a show about people with superpowers and I find it hard to say no. So we did and everybody who sees it loves it and it’s now in — I think — it’s second season. It was an English company that did it and called me and asked me to be apart of it. I have never heard from that company since. People ask me, “How’s the show doing?” I say, “I dunno.” “Will there be another series?” “I dunno.” Sooner or later I think they ought to call me. I do think it’s a great show. It seemed like something that struck me as very funny. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it features people doing things that really should be impossible and they can do them — they have their own superpowers. One guy that I remember takes an electric screwdriver (drill) and he puts it against his forehead and turns on the damn power. He’s like that twith this damn thing against his forehead! So I said to myself, “What makes a man get up in the morning one day and say, ‘I bet if I put an electric screwdriver to my forehead, I could do it.’” And there you go; these are the people that I deal with. And you wonder why I’m less than a hundred-percent sane.

AQ: What is the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?

SL: What is the strangest thing? Probably being here and not knowing what the hell to say to all you people. The strangest thing? Yeah, I’d have to get back to you on that. I can’t think of anything. Maybe the guy with the thing against his forehead. If there’s another panel tomorrow, show up and maybe I’ll think of answer by then. I really can’t think of anything. My whole life is strange!

TW: A lot of people have been watching your YouTube channel, STAN LEE’S WORLD OF HEROES, and your rants on there — STAN’S RANTS, which are so much fun. Do you enjoy doing those and how did those come about?

SL: I enjoy doing them because it gives me a chance to complain about all the things that bother me. You can’t live in this world for a number of years without a lot of things bothering you, so I do my rants and the public is very strange; a lot of people love it. And I said to myself, “People must like to hear other people who complain.” I never knew that. So maybe I’ll start a new superhero… THE COMPLAINER!

AQ: I really miss the show WHO WANTS TO BE A SUPERHERO and is there any chance that POW Entertainment might bring it back on TV?

SL: No, I don’t think we could. It’s all tied up in legal stuff that I don’t understand… but we’re working on a new show. I don’t know if I’m aloud to talk about it, but I’ll give you a hint. I know that you all can keep a secret. We’re working on a new television series; it’s a reality show in which we aim to find the very best superhero artist and writer we can find and it’ll be like AMERICAN IDOL and things like that. We eliminate people every week which I hate to do; I’m gonna get someone else to be the judge. And we’re working on that now. You heard that first here and you better watch it!

Part Two coming soon!


About the author

NINJA | Ken loves comics, video games, and film -- especially creature features and giant monster flicks. When he's not stalking the shadows as part of the Ninja Clan, he spends his time obsessively collecting ThunderCats, King Kong, and Pacific Rim memorabilia.