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Stan Lee’s Cinematic Superheroes

Stan Lee’s Cinematic Superheroes

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Although I hate giving away all our secrets, because some of our competitors may be reading this article, when it comes to superhero movies, everything depends on characterization. I don’t want to make it sound too easy, but in a superhero movie you expect there’ll be special effects and all sorts of exciting visuals on the screen. But you get that in a lot of rotten movies, too. It’s caring about the characters that makes a movie great.

I try to make my characters vulnerable in some way or another—not too powerful, not too perfect. It’s hard for people to relate to someone who hasn’t shared the same problems that they have. And to me, no hero who is perfect is an interesting hero. One of the troubles they had with Superman is that the guy can do anything and doesn’t seem to have anything to worry about—except when he takes off his glasses.

It’s hard to get as involved with him as it is with someone like Spider-Man, who has so many vulnerabilities. Kind of like me, who on the surface seem to be like everybody else…

Superman (1978)
directed by Richard Donner
Superman was, as far as I know, the first superhero movie to take itself seriously and to be treated like any other major motion picture. And, of course, it was just brilliant the way they had that one ad line that said “You’ll believe a man can fly.”

Batman (1989)
directed by Tim Burton
I thought the first Batman movie was really great. Nobody had expected that after all those “Batman” television shows, which were so cartoony—they were good, but they were cartoony. Nobody thought they could do a really serious, big-budget Batman movie. Superman and the first Batman movie really made people realize there could be big movies based on comic books.

Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Spider-Man 3 (2007)
directed by Sam Raimi
X-Men (2000), X2 (2003)
directed by Bryan Singer
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
directed by Brett Ratner
Both the Spider-Man and X-Men movies follow the comic books very closely. They all got the characterizations just right. They all told the story seriously. Visually, they were very beautiful. They were eye candy with all the special effects.

Tobey Maguire was perfect as Spider-Man, because he looks like every young man. Any youngster can relate to Tobey because he’s not Brad Pitt. Most young people don’t think of themselves as matinee idols, but they like to think that some girl could fall in love with them.

The cast of the X-Men movies—all of them have had great casts. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen)? Those are Shakespearean actors playing those roles!

Iron Man (2008)
directed by Jon Favreau
Iron Man proved that a superhero movie can be the kind of movie that men would like, women would like and youngsters would like. It was a family movie, but it was sophisticated. It was brilliant. Robert Downey Jr. did a great job. It was just a perfect movie. Everybody who saw it loved it.

The Dark Knight (2008)
directed by Christopher Nolan
The Dark Knight was so well done and the job that Heath Ledger did with The Joker—which was totally different than the way Nicholson played it—was brilliant.

Stan Lee’s portfolio of characters reads like a supervillain’s to-do list; Lee had a hand in creating Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange. Now, with POW! Entertainment, the 86-year-old legend hopes his roster of new characters will become as iconic as those of his past. First up is Time Jumper, which will launch in July as a digital comic book, readable on all sorts of mobile devices. “It’s about a young man who can travel in time, but it’s more than just moving from year to year or epic to epic,” explains Lee of the story’s main character. “He has a very dangerous mission and there’s a secret behind it. It’s an incredibly engrossing story.”

With Disney onboard, Lee expects work to begin on the big-screen version of Time Jumper in the near future—and promises to be fully hands-on when that happens. “With the [Marvel] movies it’s more of an honorary title,” says Lee of his ever-present executive producer credit. “I don’t really butt into the movies. But with Time Jumper, it’s my project and I will be very involved. That’s why I’m doing my best to make sure it’s going to be a major hit.” MM

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