As a young intern at Marvel back in my youth (a year and a half ago), I remember being super pissed I never got to meet Stan Lee. I knew he wasn’t as involved in the process as he was in 1965, but I sort of had this image in my head of him dropping by occasionally to offer sage advice and possibly candy.
So naturally I jumped all over the opportunity to talk to Mr. Lee at Times Square’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N, a new Marvel exhibit opening June 2. Before the interview, I got a sneak peek at what the S.T.A.T.I.O.N had to offer. The irony of walking through a fully interactive Captain America training facility, Bruce Banner gamma-radiation lab and Thor outer-space observatory before speaking to Stan Lee was not lost on me.
Finally, with the sound of Tony Stark’s laboratory in the background, I met with Stan in a tiny space situated in the back of the exhibit to talk about the future of his comic books on television. Namely, I wanted to pick the mind of Stan Lee, the godfather of Marvel himself, over the four new Marvel-centric Netflix series set to begin filming in New York this summer. The filming, which is expected to create 3,000 jobs and rake in around $2.1 billion for the city, will begin with Daredevil.
“I don’t know about that,” Mr. Lee said. “I heard they were doing a series, but they’re filming in New York? And they didn’t ask me to be Daredevil?”
Huh, okay. How about the announced Luke Cage series? Or even Iron Fist?
“Wait a minute, Iron Fist is going to be a series?” Mr. Lee responded. “And Luke Cage? I didn’t know that. That’s wonderful. I was unaware of that.”
And that is how The Observer broke news to Stan Lee.
For those thinking it, though, Mr. Lee’s unawareness is most definitely not because he turned 91 last December. Even during a marathon of interviews, the man gives off more youth and energy than most of the 20-somethings in the room. The idea of Marvel on the screen, big or small, turns him into just a normal fan.
“It’s unbelievable,” Mr, Lee said. “When I was writing these things , I never in a million years would have dreamed they’d be on the screen. In fact, they couldn’t have been, we did not have the special effects we do now. It’s quite a thrill.”
Mr. Lee’s vigor is especially evident when the conversation shifts to New York itself. Whether it be the upcoming Netflix filming, the Avengers movie, or the exhibit we were sitting in, Marvel has a tendency to situate itself in the big Apple.
“New York is the greatest city in the world,” he tells me. “When I was writing the stories I lived in New York. It enabled me to makes things seem a little more relevant perhaps. I did not want to say when someone went to the movies, he went to the Bijou. I wanted to say he went to Lowe’s State. I wanted Spider-Man to live in Forest Hills, not in Metropolis or Gotham City.”