When it comes to comic books, few names are more instantly recognizable or beloved than Stan Lee. Known to millions as the man whose superheroes propelled Marvel to its preeminent position in the comic book industry, Lee is responsible for co-creating an incredible lineup of heroes from The Incredible Hulk to Spider-Man. Lee’s work is legend, and his extraordinary life and career were honored earlier this week at Extraordinary: Stan Lee – a special, star-studded tribute event in Los Angeles.
Held at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, Extraordinary: Stan Lee was a night to remember. Featuring an intimate, nostalgic conversation with Stan himself and hosted by the wonderful Chris Hardwick, the event offered a unique look back at Lee’s storied career – with an impressive roster of celebrity guests and industry giants there to celebrate right along with fans. The live show was broadcasted in more than 180 movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada.
The candid conversations loosely followed Stan’s life and career, from his start working as a comics writer in the 1940s to being a major part of Marvel Comics’ rise to becoming a powerhouse in the 1960s alongside Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko – and of course, his present-day fame as a cameo star in Marvel productions.
Throughout the night, many of Stan’s colleagues and friends offered their own words of tribute and celebration, either via video message – like Mark Ruffalo, J.K. Simmons, Aisha Tyler, and Jon Favreau, to name a few – or in-person. Celebrity guests included Alan Tudyk (Star Wars: Rogue One), Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), David Hasselhoff (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2), Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2), musician/producer RZA (Blade Trinity), and many more.
The evening was a very fun and inspiring one, filled with quips from the sharp-as-a-tack Stan Lee – about everything from his shoe being untied to his hearing loss and numerous technical difficulties – and beautiful words and stories honoring this comics legend.
In a particularly touching and impactful moment, Rza read a powerful excerpt from a 1968 edition of “Stan’s Soapbox,” Lee’s regular column in Marvel Comics, in which he denounced hatred and bigotry. Stan had actually tweeted out a copy of this column earlier in the month after the events in Charlottesville, and it’s clear that his words are just as relevant and important today as they were during the Civil Rights movement.
As true today as it was in 1968. Pax et Justitia – Stan pic.twitter.com/VbBtiZzUch
— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) August 15, 2017
Whether you grew up as an avid comics fan or are only familiar through the recent lineup of Marvel movies, it’s impossible not to be inspired by Stan Lee and his extraordinary work. His is a story of grit, innovation, and breaking boundaries – and we loved hearing about it from the man himself, as well as many of his friends and admirers.
The night ended the only way it truly could: with an enthusiastic “Excelsior!” from Stan, Chris Hardwick, and the audience.
Photos by: Jeff Lewis