The death of Marvel legend Stan Lee last week has inspired a wealth of tributes. (And, in one case, for some reason, the opposite of that.) Now one of his closest collaborators — MCU head Kevin Feige — has weighed in. In a lengthy essay published in EW, the film producer waxed poetic on the co-creator of some of comics’ most beloved superheroes, from the Hulk to Spider-Man to Black Panther to Iron Man. He also pointed out that they weren’t mere entertainments, but were driven by something utopian.
“He believed in the best of humanity,” Feige wrote. “He also believed in the flaws of humanity, and that the flaws could be overcome.”
Feige also pointed out how ballsy it was for him and Jack Kirby to create Black Panther in the mid-’60s.
“What director Ryan Coogler was able to do with Black Panther would not exist if not for Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby taking a quote-unquote ‘risk’ bringing in an African — not even African-American, an African — character to their stories who was smarter and wealthier and more technologically advanced than any other hero,” Feige wrote. “This was at the height of the civil rights movement, and that’s astounding to me. He really had a good heart.”
Feige also wrote about what turned out to be his final meeting with Lee, who died at 95. Lee was very hands-off with the MCU movies, mostly sticking to his requisite cameos. The two met two weeks before his death.
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.”
You can read Feige’s full tribute here.