By Hector Cantú
It’s been a busy year for legendary Marvel Comics editor and creator Stan Lee. He’s executive produced two of the year’s biggest movies – Captain America: Civil War and Deadpool. In the wings for theatrical release are X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27) and Doctor Strange (Nov. 4). Then there are the multiple TV projects, including Daredevil and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Lee, partnering with colleagues such as Jack Kirby, Bill Everett and Don Heck, co-created or helped conceptualize most of the Marvel Comics heroes and villains that have jumped from comic-book pages to the big and small screens (Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Kirby; Deadpool by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza; and Doctor Strange by Steve Ditko).
The Intelligent Collector interviewed Lee eight years ago, before both Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm were acquired by Walt Disney Studios. Even back then, we saw the similarities between the character-rich universes conceived by Lee and George Lucas and asked Stan about it.
“Damn!” Lee said when told that among the top 15 movies at the time, Lucas’ movies had grossed just a bit more than movies based on Marvel Comics characters. “He’s always beating me! I don’t like being in second place!”
Here is an excerpt from that 2008 interview:
Q: Do you consider yourself one of the most successful creators in Hollywood?
A: Of course not! Lucas does movies. I only wrote a lot of comic book stories, which other people have made into great movies. I had nothing to do with the movies and yet I seem to get so much credit for them. I feel like a phony!
Q: But Lucas created Luke Skywalker, you created Peter Parker. He created Darth Vader, you created Doctor Doom. Lucas wrote the stories, you wrote the stories.
A: … I think I was very instrumental in making these characters famous and successful as comic book characters. In the comic book field, I did very well and I am happy to accept all the credit that might be heaped upon me. But the movies that have made all this money you’re talking about, while they were based on things that I wrote, they were written and directed and acted by other people. I had nothing to do with that. So I would be an idiot to compare myself to a George Lucas. I think I’m cuter! [laughs]
Q: People would still argue you’re on the same level. You created characters. You created stories. The movies are based on those characters and those stories. The similarities are there.
A: Look, I’m not going to fight it. I’m very flattered to be put in the same class. The only difference is, of course, I created probably more things.
P.S. It appears Stan is no longer in second place. Since this interview appeared, Marvel movies have surpassed Star Wars movies on the Top 10 ranking of worldwide grosses, according to Box Office Mojo.
HECTOR CANTÚ is editor of The Intelligent Collector magazine.