The celebration honored the man behind some of the most well-known complex characters and superheroes of our time — both heroes and villains — including Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, The Avengers, Loki, Dr. Doom and Black Panther. Presented by Legion M, a fan-owned entertainment company, on the eve of San Diego Comic-Con, the event was the first handprints-footprints ceremony in the tradition’s 90-year history to be organized and hosted by fans.
Kevin Smith served as emcee for the ceremony and shared anecdotes from his mutual past with Lee. “I knew him from a young age,” he stated. “He didn’t teach me to read, but he taught me to enjoy reading. He did not teach me to dream, but he gave me so many things to dream about. He taught me to be proud of what you make and stand up for it as well. It’s not enough to just be the artist that makes it — go out and champion it as well. ‘Who will love it if not you first?’”
“If I had known I was so good,” Lee quipped, “I would ask for a raise.” Lee said in a heartfelt thanks to the speakers and fans, ending his speech with his signature, “Excelsior!”
With such a storied career, Lee chatted with Variety about what keeps the 94-year-old creator so motivated and active in Hollywood. “It’s so interesting to be interested because the work — comic books and movies — are so exciting to me, that even if I weren’t connected with the business, I’d still be reading about it, wanting to know about it; I love entertainment,” he explained.
While the industry he loves is garnering much success from adapting his stories to the big screen, he admitted to having a cache of characters in a vault.
“I have about 50 [characters] that I’ve already developed that I haven’t shown to anybody,” he said. “And someday I will. But, there’s no need for me, really, to do anymore now.” Making one more confession, he said, “One of them [the characters] has a superpower that you’ve never seen before. They all have new superpowers, but I can’t tell you. I’m sorry!”
Attending the ceremony, were some of Marvel’s finest: president of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” actor Clark Gregg, and star of the upcoming “Black Panther” film, Chadwick Boseman — who referred to an earlier part of Lee’s career, the 1960s, reminding the crowd of the socio-political climate of the times.
|Todd McFarlane, Marvel president Kevin Feige, Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Chadwick Boseman and Clark Gregg at the ceremony in Hollywood. Cook/Variety/REX/Shutterstock|
Comic book creator Todd McFarlane contributed to the presentation of memories. “The only thing that would make [today] better is if Joanie was here.” Joan Lee, Stan’s wife of almost 70 years, passed away almost two weeks ago, subsequent to suffering a stroke.
Marvel superhero fans and passersby alike, children and adults, gathered to catch a glimpse of the action on Hollywood Boulevard. One of the biggest Stan Lee fans in attendance — even proudly boasting a tattoo on her arm of his autograph — Melissa Valeriano, of Minneapolis, Minn., donned a USO dress, a costume tribute to the characters in “Captain America.” “This is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity, and there’s no way I would miss it,” she said. “This has taken 75 years. 75 years in the making and this day will never happen again.”
|Stan Lee superfan Melissa Valeriano. Cook/Variety/REX/Shutterstock|