Stan Lee Interview: Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., His ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Cameo, and ‘Ant-Man’ Shake-Up
Stan Lee walks out from behind a curtain and emerges into Tony Stark’s laboratory, now set up to accommodate cameras and press. Iron Man’s suit is encased in the background, the floor is lit up to resemble an enlarged replica of his electromagnetic chest implant, and his inventions, like J.A.R.V.I.S. and his particle accelerator, adorn the far wall. “I don’t know how they did it,” remarked the famed Marvel creator. “I can’t wait to see the rest.”
Stan “The Man” was in New York City to promote the latest brain child of Marvel Studios — the Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., an interactive exhibit for Marvelites at Discovery Time Square that allows fans to immerse themselves in the world of ‘The Avengers‘ films and S.H.I.E.L.D. Filled with movie props and costumes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — including the Chitauri chariot and weapons from ‘The Avengers,’ Loki’s scepter and vintage Captain America memorabilia — this S.T.A.T.I.O.N. transforms attendants into S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and dives into the science behind the famed superheroes and their abilities.
After checking out this exhibit for ourselves — but not before Stan, of course — we sat down with the true believer to chat about this one-of-a-kind experience and what’s coming up next in the Marvel movie canon.
I just got a chance to walk through the exhibit. Did you get a chance to fiddle around with it?
What’s been your favorite part so far?
All of what I saw so far was the Hulk and Captain America, and they are wonderful. I don’t know how they did it. I can’t wait to see the rest. When you guys stop interviewing me, I’m gonna go see the rest of it.
What’s been the most impressive aspect of the exhibit, for you, so far?
I think the professionalism. The fact that they take a character like the Hulk, who to me was just a big monster, and show all the scientific reasons as to why he became the Hulk. And they treat it with such reverence and respect, and such professionalism. It blows me away.
Speaking of science, it seems this exhibit had such an emphasis on scientific reasoning behind all of these superheroes. When you were creating them, was that always going through your head?
Not at all! I’m the least scientific guy I know. With the Hulk, I wanted to get a guy who would turn into a monster like Frankenstein, like the Frankenstein monster, so I figured, “How do I get that to happen? I know! I’ll have him hit with a gamma ray.” And that’s all. I don’t know what a gamma ray is but it sounded good. With the Fantastic Four, I had them hit with cosmic rays. Now, I had run out of rays, so something else had to be created, I had to think of something different.
But that’s all I knew — a gamma ray — but they brought it down to a science. They‘re explaining what a gamma ray is, they’re explaining how a person could become this and what causes people to have green skin. I mean they’ve gotten into such scientific details of things that I just did casually, and it’s amazing! But I’ll tell you one thing – most of the kids who leave this exhibit are gonna want to be scientists. And I think that’s great.
How important was the city of New York, having this exhibit be based here? Recently we learned that Marvel’s ‘Defenders’ Netflix series is gonna also be based in New York.
It’s tremendously important. I lived in New York. I wanted the stories to have the ring of truth even though they were superhero stories. So I felt if the hero had to go to a theater, if he went to the Lowes 175th Street theater rather than the Bijou, and Spider-Man lived in Forest Hills rather than Metropolis or – whatever that city is – Gotham City, I thought that made the stories seem a little bit more credible. And another thing, by the characters living in the same city, I can have them meet and guest star in each other’s stories.
Now the cinematic universe for Marvel has been opening up lately, and the next one, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ is the most ambitious one yet. Now I remember at first you said you weren’t gonna have a cameo in it, but then you stated that you already filmed something for them. What changed your mind?
I didn’t mean that I didn’t want to film it.
What I meant was that I thought they wouldn’t call me because I didn’t create ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ but they did call me and I was happy as hell that I did the cameo.
The one I didn’t do a cameo in was the new ‘X-Men’ and only because they shot it in Montreal, and I was somewhere else and I couldn’t get there at that time.
I was gonna go back and watch it again just to see if I had missed you.
Well, that’s how this movie ['X-Men: Days of Future Past'] made all its money. Everybody went back to see it again!
That’s actually perfect marketing.
Haha. They did it purposefully.
Very quickly, I wanted to get your thoughts on the recent ‘Ant-Man’ shake-up. Edgar Wright has been attached to this movie for so long…
I think he’s off it now, though, I think somebody told me.
He is off of it.
I’m sorry about that. I had lunch with him, I met him, he was so excited about it. That was over a year ago. But they’re still making the movie, I understand, and it’ll be a great movie because, again, the special effects you can imagine them – a guy this big crawling around the room, people about to step on him. It’ll be great.
What are you most excited about the character of Ant-Man to see on the screen?
Really the fact that he’s so different from any other hero. You’re always looking for something that’s going to stand out, and Ant-Man will be the most unusual character of all.