stan lee: super hero status

Enter the world of The Avengers with a living legend…

by Christian Lavery


A line has formed halfway down the block on 44th Street in New York City. Keep in mind it’s not even 10 a.m. yet. The commotion?

Discovery Time Square

is officially opening Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. But even more so,

Stan Lee

is in attendance. Yes.


Stan Lee.

The 91-year-old is here to celebrate with his fans, as he’s done for the last couple of decades now. He’s a rock star within the comic world. A larger than life character if you will. Which is fitting, considering all the super heroes he’s cooked up, created, and brought to prominence himself.

Today, however, marks the celebration of a few super heroes in particular. Those that are part of Marvel’s Avengers. Through the exhibition, visitors will take part in a completely immersive process, where they will experience firsthand the vast array of intelligence files, classified studies, and experiments that explore the history and scientific origins of the likes of Iron Man, The Hulk, Captian America, as well as others.

It’s something even Stan Lee is stunned by. And rightfully so.

This was all two years in the making. What do you make of it now that it's all done?

I was awestricken! I wasn't a part of it when they were doing it, and now to come and see it is unbelievable, indescribable. I think it's wonderful.

What's it like seeing all this technology and all your characters basically come to life ?

I'm not a technological kind of guy. I say to my self "there's a guy named Bruce Banner. A scientist gets clobbered by a gamma ray and he turns into the Hulk." To me that's as much scientific explanation you'll get. But they show you how this actually could have happened, and what a gamma ray is. It's unbelievable!

I know this just opened today and there was already a line down the street with all these people filing in. What does that mean to you?

It means a lot to me. The fact that I had once worked on something that people care about so many years later, naturally it's a great feeling.

Did you ever think it would come to this? I know you grew up in the Bronx and started out writing obituaries and kind of climbed the latter from there. Did you ever think it would grow into what it is today with all the movies and fandom around super heroes?

It's unbelievable, I never would have expected it.

Your good friends with Kevin Smith and he cites you as one of his biggest inspirations. Did you have anyone growing up that you looked up to like that?

Mostly I looked up to writers, whether it was Jules Vern, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Alan Poe. Everything I read, all these writers were heroes to me, and actors too. I don't know if you remember Errol Flynn. To me he played Robin Hood and played the sheriff of Dodge city and was always beating up the bad guys and saving the girls. As a little kid I wanted to beat up the bad guys and especially save the girls (Laughs).

So as a child you would spend most of your time reading books?

Oh I read all the time. I would read a whole book when i went to bed, before i'd fall asleep i'd have finished a book.

I know in all your movies you do a little cameo, do you have a favorite one?

I love 'em all. I think one of my favorites though is the new one I did in

Captain America

when I say "I'm so fired" i thought that was pretty funny.

How do those cameos work? Do you come up with them or the director?

No, I'm called to the set by the director, he says "Stan, I have a cameo I want you to do." I go on to the set I have no idea what I'm going to do. He tells me. I do it magnificently I might add. Then they tell me to get out of here and stop bothering the cast and I go home (laughs).

I have a quote from you actually that says "I learned one of life's greatest lessons. I didn't know the reasons for this but people who like super hero stories want there heros in costumes. If anyone finds out why let me know." Did you ever find out why?

Do you know why? I don't know why. I originally wrote

The Fantastic Four

with no costumes. I got a lot of fan mail saying we loved

The Fantastic Four

, but you gotta give them costumes or we won't read any more.

Really? So it was through feedback from the fans that you gave them costumes?

Yeah, from the fans. They loved costumes. If you just take a guy in a business suit and turn him into a super hero, it wouldn't sell very well.

What is it about the characters that you think make them so popular?

I think most of them are like fairy tale characters, most kids like fairy tales when they were young. Stories of giants, magicians and wizards. Then you get a little older and you don't read fairy tales, but you always love that type of thing. Along comes the super heroes and they're like fairy tales for grown ups. You have the Hulk who's a giant and people who can fly, it's like you're recapturing your youth in a way. That's very philosophical...make a not of that (laughs).

I also read that your wife pushed you to make the characters have a little more human nature to them, is that true?

What happened was I wanted to give the characters more humanity and my publishers didn't want that. He just wanted a lot of action and I wanted to quit. So my wife said, before you quit why don't you write one story the way you want to write it. At least get it out of your system. He'll fire you for it, but you want to quit anyway. So I wrote the Fantastic Four the way I wanted. Luckily it sold so i didn't get fired and my publisher asked for more stuff like that--and we were off and running.

So I'm guessing that was the best advice you've ever gotten. Do you have any worst advice you've ever received?

Yeah, that was the best advice. The worst advice was from my publisher saying "give me a lot of action, no dialogue, don't worry about characterization. Just get a lot of people fighting each other."

Learn more about the exhibition and get tickets