Not many 94-year-olds can pack a room with devoted fans, young and old. But, not many 94-year-olds are Stan Lee, the pop culture legend who helped make Marvel Comics the multimedia juggernaut it is today. The co-creator of box office superstars Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men and countless others is at Boston Comic Con from August 11 through 13 for what is being billed as his final East Coast appearance.
On Friday night, Lee participated in an hour-long Q&A. Anyone who’s ever read one of Lee’s comics knows how verbose the writer can be, so, as you can imagine, a lot of ground was covered. As a result, I present to you what I found to be the best moments from Lee’s chat with his Beantown audience.
The secret to Marvel Studios’ success
You can’t have a Marvel movie without a Stan Lee cameo. Lee’s assistant mentioned that Lee has completed four new cameos for upcoming flicks, including Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, and will shoot another in the week ahead. On top of that, Lee’s cameo for Thor: Ragnarok is said to be his best yet.
But Lee wasn’t done spilling secrets. He just couldn’t resist explaining why Marvel movies end up breaking box office records.
“You’re in the theater watching the movie and you reach down to get the popcorn,” Lee said. “So you turn your eye away from the screen for a few seconds. In those few seconds, you might miss my cameo. So you sit through the end, and you say, ‘Gee, I missed Stan’s cameo.’ So you go to the box office and you buy another ticket so you don’t miss my cameo. Well, all of those extra tickets are responsible for Marvel making so much money, and they’re all because of me.”
Those DC digs
Whoever said time heals all wounds clearly doesn’t know Stan Lee. At the age of 94, Lee hasn’t outgrown his need to dish out playful jabs at DC Comics.
“I shouldn’t say things about DC, because they mean well, they try hard, I guess they’re nice enough people,” Lee joked to much laughter – then cheering when he said, “They did come out with Wonder Woman, and I’m not happy about that. But good for them.”
Lee calls Robert Downey Jr. “Bobbo”
While Lee claims to love every Marvel movie, he admitted that he loves the first Iron Man because it introduced the world to Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.
“Nobody could play that role as well as him,” Lee said.
Lee also revealed his nickname for Downey Jr. – “Bobbo.”
“I said to him once, ‘Everyone calls you Robert.’ He said, ‘Well you can call me Rob, you can call me Bobbo.’ So I call him Bobbo.”
Lee’s eyesight is fading – but he’ll always have eyes for Gwen
When asked about his thoughts on the stories unfolding monthly in modern Marvel comic series, Lee had to come clean.
“I’m going to make a real, real confession to you, and I’m not sure this is something I should even tell people, but even though I look to you like a model of physical perfection, I can’t see well worth a damn and I’m losing my hearing,” Lee explained. “Anyway, I can’t read the comics anymore because I can’t read them. So I don’t know whats happening in the comic book universe. I only know when somebody tells me about some new development. It’s something that makes me feel terrible.”
Still, Lee can see well enough to know that Spider-Man and the relatively new Spider-Gwen appear regularly on covers.
“I don’t know what Spider-Gwen is all about or where she came from, but it gives them an excuse to draw a very sexy-looking girl on the cover,” Lee said. “So I can see well enough to see that.”
Lee doesn’t play favorites
When a young fan asked which Spider-Man actor has done the best job of bringing Peter Parker to life on the big screen – a question that was met with many scandalous “oohs” – Lee said he couldn’t answer that.
“I like them all. I think everybody who played Spider-Man did a great job.”
The audience broke out in applause. A very classy response, Mr. Lee.
Lee didn’t like what Fox did to Dr. Doom either
While Lee clearly has love for all of the Marvel film adaptations, he eventually admitted that he wasn’t crazy about the first Fantastic Four film for one reason.
“I didn’t like the way they did to Dr Doom,” Lee said. “They were afraid to put him in his armor, the way it was in the comics. They just did him as a businessman. It made the whole thing less colorful.”
Lee’s as human as his creations
When one fan brought up the classic “Death of Captain Stacy” Spider-Man story, it ended up triggering the night’s most emotional moment. The moment when Lee, who’s known for creating all-too-human superheroes like the Thing and Iron Man, actually began to cry as he reflected on the story he wrote several decades ago.“Thank you for reminding me,” Lee said to the fan. “Peter realized… I’m crying… Peter realized that he knew he was Spider-Man, and he had always known that Peter was Spider-Man, but he didn’t want to make any trouble. That was a very dramatic thing.”
And it was definitely a dramatic moment, which led to a supportive round of applause.
The actual best moment…
…was the entire Q&A session!
I’m glad I got to spend an hour listening to a master storyteller casually… well, tell stories! At 94, Lee is sharp as ever.
Seriously, the laughs never stopped, which is why the actual best part of the Q&A session was the opportunity to see this living legend owning the room at his final Boston Comic Con appearance.