Recently, the world lost one of the most influential people in the history of entertainment in Stan Lee. Stan’s work in comic books speaks for itself. Suffice to say, he became so iconic that he became a fixture on the big screen. This week AiPT! fondly looks back at Stan Lee and what he has done and still can do for the movie industry.
What is your favorite Stan Lee cameo?Nathan Simmons: My favorite is a little split. The hardest I’ve laughed at a Stan cameo was in Ant-Man and the Wasp, in which he thinks he’s having an acid flashback when he sees his car shrink in front of him. I’m also very fond of a much simpler one: when he appears in the background of the first X-Men movie as a hot dog vendor. I remember the joy I felt in the theater when I saw him on the screen. Even my mom, who isn’t really a comic nerd, turned to me with a big smile and asked, “Do you see him?” In the days where comic book films were rare, it felt like something brand new. In many ways, it was.
Michael Rosch: My favorite is his appearance in Spider-Man 3. Peter is walking in Time Square and stops to read a digital news ticker message about how Spider-Man is receiving the keys to the city for his heroism. Stan Lee walks up next to him and, reading the same message, tells Peter, “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. ‘Nuff said.” It’s particularly great because, unlike his more jokey cameos, he’s literally commenting on one of the central messages of not only the Spider-Man books but Marvel’s entire mission statement. In contrast to the paragons of virtue over at DC, Marvel heroes can be anyone. They’re real people with all the human frailty that comes with that. The fact they choose to do the right thing and “make a difference” despite their flaws arguably makes them more heroic. The line also has added significance in Spider-Man 3 particularly because, regardless of the film’s subpar execution, it’s a story about Spider-Man letting his pride get the better of him, becoming corrupted by it, and then ultimately remembering why he put on the mask in the first place.
Nathaniel Muir: He had a lot of good ones and I would probably give a different answer every time I was asked. Today, I will go with his cameo from Iron Man. The whole scene is great with Robert Downey Jr. doing his best douchebag Tony Stark to the silliness of Lee just hanging out at a party with young blondes. Stark nonchalantly calling Lee “Hef” caps off a near perfect cameo.
Stan is the biggest name in comic book history. If he went into a different field of entertainment, would Stan Lee have been a success?Nathan: I think Stan absolutely would have been a success in another field. Stan Lee was, above all else, the best showman and salesman there ever was. The guy could sell any idea to anyone. Even the narration boxes in his comics were hyping up the wild and wacky adventures of “NEXT ISH!” His enthusiasm knew no bounds. He was always looking ahead and innovating. Stan would have been just fine.
Michael: Stan was a brilliant creative mind and showman. He understood basic human psychology and how to appeal to his audience, particularly a youth audience. In another life, he probably could have been P.T. Barnum. In New York City in the 1960’s, he could have maybe been a successful ad man on Madison Avenue or making B movies in the same genres and with similar motifs as his work at Marvel.
Nathaniel: Stan was a master at getting himself over. If he went into film, he would have made a number of cult classics that are still talked about today. If Stan were born decades later and were around in today’s more easily impressed world, he would be the king of YouTube. Stan was a force of nature that would have succeeded at whatever he wanted to do.
What Stan Lee creation would you like to finally see on the big screen?
Nathan: THE ENFORCERS! C’mon, it doesn’t get much more “Merry Marvel” than Ox, Montana, and Fancy Dan! They’re the best-dressed and (arguably) most ridiculous enemies of Spider-Man’s early years. And I don’t want some modern reimagining of them, either. I straight-up want to see a huge strongman, a cowboy, and a ladies’ man in a perfectly-tailored suit duking it out with Spidey on the big screen. And they still talk like a gang of Rat Pack rejects. Please let that be the opening of the next Spider-Man flick!
Nathaniel: My first pick was Asbestos Man due to his awesome name, but he’s actually pretty boring. I know he’s been on many of the animated shows, but the High Evolutionary would make for a fun villain. A highly intelligent mad scientist who has no problems experimenting on his own body? Sounds like the MCU has another ten years worth of movies!
Who do you think should play Stan Lee in the inevitable biopic?Nathan: This is tough. I’ve seen all the memes going around that show Tom Holland as a decent ringer for young Stan, but I think the way to go would be to cast an unknown actor and launch the career of someone new. I think that’s what Stan would have dug.
Michael: Though too old to play young Stan, I could see Marc Maron playing older Stan. And I also like the idea of Tom Holland playing the younger Stan, particularly because it could plausibly lead to a more dynamically directed and edited film where the filmmakers seamlessly transition from scenes of Stan brainstorming Spider-Man stories to scenes of him imagining himself as Peter Parker.
Nathaniel: I know it is because of the picture released for next year’s Mr. Rogers biopic, but I can’t help but get Tom Hanks out of my mind. He has already shown that he can play any character and Hanks would be able to accurately portray both the serious and comedic sides needed for the part. Or if you really want to have fun with it plus have some great acting, have Dave Franco play young Stan and James Franco play older Stan.