Panel Name: Spotlight on Stan Lee
Topic: Intimate hour with comic book forefather and creator of many beloved Marvel characters.
Featured Guests: Stan Lee, hosted by Clare Kramer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Geek Nation c0-creator)
Marvel or DC, young or old, Democrat or Republic, WHICHEVER side you put your allegiance when the line in the sand is drawn, all bow down to the national treasure that is Stan Lee. When Stan took the stage at Denver Comic Con for the first time ever (and possibly last time since he is announcing that this year’s NYCC visit will be his last), the otherwise mild Bellco Theater packed in all 5,000 seats with fans of all walks.
Purists and fan fictioneers, veterans and novices alike were in attendance as this frail old man strode – like, really strode – across the stage. The purely Q&A session was guided very smoothly by Clare Kramer, who we could tell was just as much of a fangirl as those of us in the audience. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve heard the man on podcasts or seen his Marvel movie cameos on repeat, there is a certain presence that Stan has that puts every single audience member in a good mood. Whether he’s talking about the origin story of Spider-Man or coyly getting out of explaining his next cameo, Stan Lee has more charisma at 93 years old than most people will accumulate throughout their lifetimes.
With all these adoring fans, who loves Stan the most? Well, Stan does! Stan reiterated that he was his biggest fan, citing that it was impossible to remember what his favorite piece of writing was. He also had a difficult time choosing a favorite Marvel movie cameo because “they’re all masterpieces.” He was able to tell the audience that he has three more Marvel cameos coming up before the kabosh was put on that conversation (Disney has eyes everywhere!). On a side note, Stan loves Tom Holland. “Oh, he’s wonderful. I was with him the other day. It’s as if we created a living being to be Spider-Man, and it turned out to be Tom.”
For Spider-Man, his favorite creation, to have such humble beginnings and be an overwhelming Marvel favorite is just the most darling part of it all. Coming from a “why not” effort in a failing comic book [Amazing Fantasy], execs thought that Spidey couldn’t work for three reasons: arachnophobia, he was a teenager, and he was going to have personal problems. Stan proved those editors wrong. Most of Stan’s characters were original archetypes; for example, Tony Stark was created as a symbol of everything the youth hated at the time (warlords, rich people, arrogance), yet fans loved him the same. All characters, that is, except for Reed Richards, who is too intelligent and good looking to be based off anybody but Stan himself.
With great power comes great responsibility, and Stan Lee has not budged a bit when it comes to creating and nurturing the love that he has for his characters. It would be so easy to Stan to fade into the shadows, or become crotchety and bitter at how his creations have been misused and perverted, but that’s not Stan Lee. Stan Lee loves his characters, no matter how old he or they grow, and younger fans love that they can connect with somebody nearly 100 years old about what makes them happy. In a way, Stan Lee is a living artifact, a testimony to the notion that all it takes is an incredible sense of imagination and some courage and persistence to make people believe in you.