You may have forgotten, if not forgiven, Bill Maher for comments he made about Stan Lee back in November. As you may recall, shortly after the Marvel honcho passed, the HBO star and political wisenheimer decided to trash comics and comics culture. In a blog post, he joked that the just departed Lee had “inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess.” He was attacked by fans and by Lee’s team. Maher doubled down. He was attacked some more. But the feud basically ended there and then.
Over two months later — though given what’s happened since, it feels like it was a long ago century — Maher has decided to reignite the rivalry. On the second episode of the 17th season of Real Time with Bill Maher — which also featured Ann Coulter, who’s currently pissed that the president she bullied into causing the longest government shutdown in American history decided to call it off and save hundreds of thousands of lives — the host returned to the ring, hoping to bait teenagers who’ve been inspired by Black Panther.
Maher was partly, and uncharacteristically, defensive, to a point. He claimed his statements were in “no way an attack on Mr. Lee but took the occasion of his death to express my dismay at people who think comic books are literature and superhero movies are great cinema and who in general are stuck in an everlasting childhood.
“Bragging that you’re all about the Marvel universe,” he added, “is like boasting that your mother still pins your mittens to your sleeves.”
Maher was sort of diplomatic, kind of. “You can, if you want, like the exact same things you liked when you were 10,” he said. “But if you do, you need to grow up. That was the point of my blog. I’m not glad Stan Lee is dead. I’m sad you’re alive.
“And by the way,” he continued, “if someone says you’re being childish, and you react by throwing a temper tantrum, you’re not Iron Man. You’re irony, man.” (They can’t all be winners.)
Maher also went through several of the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of angry, righteously aggrieved comments he’s received over the last two months-plus. One person charged that he or she learned about social justice by reading Marvel comics.
“Okay. But now you have pubic hair,” Maher retorted. He implored those pissed at him to move onto James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Michael Eric Dyson. “Again, there is nothing wrong with a man writing comic books. There is something wrong with adults thinking they’re profound.”
Kevin Smith, the filmmaker and outspoken nerd god, was one of the people Maher attacked in his rant. Smith responded, of course.
“No, I’m not mad at all,” Smith wrote. “Bill may talk tough but he’s a stoner like me and a real pussycat when confronted.” He then included a video of Smith joking around with Maher on an old Real Time episode about “d*ck-slapping” the host for making some fat jokes in his direction.