Stan Lee On Marvel Movies: Past, Present And Future

What do you remember about the early days of your career?

How hard I had to work. I had a lot of fun, those early days were really wonderful because I worked with the most talented artists you can imagine.

They made whatever I wrote seem much better than it was, they glamorised everything I wrote with their wonderful artwork.

It was just such a pleasure, it didn't feel like work, it was like playing, every day I was playing a new story - working with the artist and producing something that I was rather proud of.

Blade was one of the earliest Marvel movie success stories…

Yes, that was the first one that let us realise that these stories could be put on the screen and they could be hits.

And Wesley Snipes was great. We have always been pretty lucky with our casting.

Bryan Singer’s X-Men seemed to really understand the politics of your characters, treating the source material very seriously. How did it feel watching that film for the first time?

Working with Bryan was an absolute delight. He’s a great director, he’s intelligent, he’s artistic, and there’s nothing that I can say except that it is a thrill.

Seeing the audience reaction was a real pleasure.

How did it feel seeing The Avengers on the big screen? Was it surreal?

Oh, you can just imagine.

That movie was so wonderful and it had all these characters that I had written years ago, and it came to life and it worked so well.

What do you think of Andrew Garfield’s performance as Spider-Man?

I thought he was just great, couldn’t have been better. He really seems to understand the character.

What do you think of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine ?

Oh well, he was born to be Wolverine, just like Robert Downey Jr was born to play Iron Man .

They look the way they should look, they sound the way they should sound and they act, they project the personality the way I had written it years ago.

Do any of the actors come to you for advice?

Not for advice, just to talk, I spoke to Robert Downey Jr and we had lunch - we spoke about playing Iron Man, we talked about the character.

The good thing about it was, all the waiters at the restaurant saw me talking to RDJ, you can imagine how respectful to me they were the next time I came to the restaurant.

You’ve done so many cameos in the movies over the years, which is your favourite of your own cameos?

Believe it or not, I don’t have a favourite, I love them all, and each time I see one I think; ‘Wow, that is terrific, I didn’t know I was so incredibly talented.’

Will you be filming a cameo for Guardians Of The Galaxy ?

I hope so, but I’m not sure, sometimes I have to miss a cameo if it is being shot somewhere where I cannot get to.

For example I missed the latest X-Men which was being shot in Montreal and I couldn’t get there, I missed the latest Wolverine, which was in Australia and I was too busy to get there, so I’m never sure, but if I had the time I go to as many as I can.

There are so many new Marvel movies scheduled for the future. Which are you most excited about do you think?

I’m excited about all of them. Doctor Strange , Black Panther , Guardians of the Galaxy , every one of them are exciting to me.

What is it that makes those films so exciting, are they characters you have always wanted to see on the big screen?

Well, when I wrote them originally ‘Oh, I can’t wait to see them on the big screen.'

I couldn’t have imagined in those days that they would have been the subject of big-budget multi-million dollar movies.

But every one of them are so different and colourful. I can’t wait to see what they are going to look like on the big screen and how they are going to be done. I find that very exciting.

Which of your characters who isn’t scheduled to have a movie would you most like to see?

All of them, every one. It’s impossible to pick a favourite. It’s like asking a parent who is his favourite child. I really do love them all.

If there was to be a Sinister Six movie, which villains would you like to see in the line-up - there have been a few versions over the years...

I’d like to have The Green Goblin, Doctor Doom, I’d want Sandman, I’d want Galactus, The Lizard and The Skrulls, let's get them into the mix.

I really love all the villains. The villains are the most fun when you’re doing a story

Which Hulk movie did the character the most justice?

I thought the last one, in the Avengers.

It was more realistic, he wasn’t even as big as he had been in the others. The actor playing Bruce Banner was terrific, Mark Ruffalo.

Thor and Hulk got together in The Incredible Hulk Returns, would you recommend Avengers fans go back and watch it?

No Avengers fan would miss it. Nor would I miss it. Thor is such an intriguing character by himself and the Hulk is so incredibly unusual, it’s so indescribably powerful that the idea of the two of them fighting and fans of superhero stories or of action stories wouldn’t want to miss that for the world.

What do you think of having Ultron as a villain in the Avengers sequel?

I’m gonna be very honest with you. I don’t know very much about Ultron. I did not create him and I have not read the issues which feature him. So I’m going to be as eager to see this movie to learn all about him as anybody else would be.

You are such a fan of these things yourself, it really comes across. How have you been able to keep your passion going for such a long time?

Well, I’ve always loved reading and writing and stories, and working in comics and working on movies and television. We have a company called Pow Entertainment which I am the chairman of, and all day long we do nothing but movies and television and things like that and it is so interesting and it’s such fun because we living in a world of imagination and whatever we can dream up, we will try and find a way to make it palatable and enjoyable to an audience we will do it.

It's easy to keep a passion going if you’re doing what you enjoy. For instance people who play golf, their passion never seems to leave them. Well I love telling stories so whatever has to do with telling stories I’m excited by it.

Joss Whedon is another born story teller, what is your interaction with him? Has he talked to you about the Avengers at all?

I’m a big fan of Joss, I met him on the set of course, but we didn’t have much time to talk.

He was busy directing and I did my cameo and I took off because I had something else I had to do.

All of our directors have been great. He of course is a genius in his own way.

You’re teaming up with Doritos for a great competition, could you tell us a little bit about that?

Well the beautiful thing about it, was that Doritos told me that they have a contest open to people all over the world, wherever Doritos are sold and that is just about every country, and these people can send in a thirty second commercial for Doritos and the two best ones will actually be shown at the Superbowl this coming year, and the winner, the one which is judged as the best will receive one million dollars as a prize and both of them though, the first and the second, will also be put on the set of The Avengers Age of Ultron.

It will give them the chance to be where a big movie is being shot, to be part of the action, to learn what they can - it is an opportunity for anybody who is interested in filmmaking will give anything for, and those are the prizes for this incredible contest.

What should filmmakers be thinking about, and what are you looking out for as a judge?

Well obviously any commercial should do two things, it should entertain the viewer who enjoys watching it and will watch it, and secondly it will sell the product so it should be clever and intriguing - and would make someone wanna run right out and buy a couple of delicious Doritos to chew on.

If you had to create a comic-book character for Doritos, what powers would he have?

He'd probably be the world's greatest chip maker. I never think of superheroes in term of product, I just try to think of what type of character would people enjoy reading about, would they like to emulate, would they want to make a hero of, and what type of character can I give the sort of adventures to that people would want to follow them day after day, month after month.

A product like Doritos, perhaps our characters would enjoy munching on a Doritos chip now and then.

Popeye used to eat spinach - if I was doing a humorous character I'd probably do a character who whenever he eats a Dorito chip, he becomes his super powered self. But if I was doing a serious strip, I don't think of product, I just think of the story.

Which characters do you wish you'd created?

I wish I had created all the good ones. Wolverine, I'd love to have created Superman and Batman, but I don't spend much time dwelling on that.

What do you think is the future of comics?

I think it's the same as animation, I think it'll become more and more digitalised. You'll see them on your iPhones, you'll listen to them in your car.

There will still be comic books, but they won't be as big as they were years ago - there are too many other ways to tell stories now with illustrations. And now, with technology, you can make those illustrations come alive.

Sam Ashurst is a London-based film maker, journalist, and podcast host. He's the director of Frankenstein's Creature, A Little More Flesh + A Little More Flesh 2, and co-hosts the Arrow Podcast. His words have appeared on HuffPost, MSN, The Independent, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan, and many more, as well as of course for us here at GamesRadar+.