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I will fully admit that I am still not handling the passing of Stan Lee well. Every time I think I’m past it, someone brings something up and I get wistful again.
This time it was Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios. He wrote a lengthy piece about Stan and it’s all worth reading, but here is the point that stood out to me.
Some of his lessons are unspoken. He didn’t come to set and read the scripts and review the cuts. He came in, did a cameo that excited everybody, and would let his work speak for itself. He was very nice in my interactions with him, including what ended up being my final conversation with him about two weeks before he died. I went to his house to see him, and he reminisced about the cameos. We were talking about what was coming up, always looking to the future.
Did he know that his time was running out? I don’t know. In hindsight, he was slightly more wistful than I’d seen him before. He talked about the past more than I had ever heard him talk about the past. So maybe on some level, he knew. When I sat down by his chair in our last meeting, the very first thing he said was: “I know you want me to star in the next movie, but I have to just stick to the cameos. You’ll have to leave the starring roles to the other actors. I’m sorry.
He would show up to the movie sets game for anything. But one thing he would always do is try to add more lines. He always would joke – but not really joke – about wanting more lines, although he understood why we couldn’t. God forbid he would start to overshadow the hero. That was something a character like Stan Lee could easily do.
That sounds like Stan to me.
I guess I will think of Stan in some way for the rest of my life. There was a wonderful individual at Marvel Comics years ago named Carol Kalish that worked as a liaison with stores. Despite my opening my store at 15, Carol always had time for me and helped me immensely in those early days. She passed away far too young, and although it has been 20 or more years since she passed, I think of her often.
Funny how both people come from Marvel.