Interview: Stan Lee And Andy Scheer
Christians have Jesus. Muslims have Mohammed. Comic book fans have Stan Lee. He has created more memorable heroes and villains than Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Sylvia Plath combined. His work has inspired countless future artists, and his words have captivated millions. From five year old boys buying their first comics to middled aged obsessives, nearly everyone has seen or read something Lee has produced. For the last two years, the legend has set his sights on reality television, and as the second season of his Sci Fi channel hit ĎWho Wants To Be A Superheroí motors on, he and the show's executive producer, Andy Scheer took an hour of their time to answer some questions about the series in a conference call.
Q: Itís a fine line between personifying a (greedy superhero) and going over the top to the point of satirizing the entire genre. How hard do you think it is for contestants to find that balance?
Stan Lee:Wow. Well, I donít think theyíre thinking of it in that - in those terms, I think that theyíre just trying to show that they have the goods, the have the inner qualities that will make us superhero as far as satirizing it, it really depends on how the viewer sees the show. We like to think of it as totally serious with a lot of humor.
Andy Scheer: Yeah, I couldnít agree with that more, I mean there is - thereís no one - these are all people who genuinely wanted to prove that they were capable of being Stanís next great superhero.
And, you know, we - over country, thousands of people applied, we narrowed that to ten who we genuinely felt have a chance to win. And so, there wasnít anyone that had their tongue in their cheek in this adventure (in the list).
Q:: My question is this, why do you think the audiences today are interested in shows like Who wants to Be a Superhero, feature films like The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk? What do you think the main reason is?
Stan Lee: You know, I think people are interested in anything thatís a little bigger than life and thatís colorful and - you know, what they like? They like fairy tales for grownups.
You know, when you were a kid, you love fairy tales, stories of witches and monsters and magicians and so forth. And as you get older, you canít read fairy tales but you have your superhero stories which are the closest things to them.
And then hereís a show for television where people wear costumes where they pretend to have super powers and where we give them little tests, and itís just I think itís an amusing, entertaining concept and itís different, and today, in todayís world, I think anything thatís unique and reasonable well done, will get an audience, and luckily, with Andy Scheer as the show runner, I think itís pretty well done.
Andy Scheer: Stan is also (babbling); heís my publicist today.
But I just want to add that I think itís sort of - you know, itís nice that we also want to dream and fantasize and take this back, I mean who among us didnít have, you know, read Stabís comics, you know, and take - and have that go - you know, go in adventure with him, and itís like a (timeless) ice cream, I think, if you want to be a hero or feel the part that you could be a hero soÖ
Q: How has the second season been different from the first? Were there lessons you learned on the first season that youíve applied to the second one?
Stan Lee: Oh, Andy learned a lot. Why donít you tell them, Andy?
Andy Scheer: I wasnít involved in the first season but, this time, we basically try to do exactly the same thing that was done in the first season but, you know, as they say, take up a notch, we wanted to put Stan in more - we did bigger adventures, we actually have a narrative that arcs from episode to episode so that theyíre not just doing missions and - or exercises and the tests too but theyíre - you know, they are in mission and theyíre going like what we call ďreal bad guys.Ē
Itís still at its core - you know, when you go see it, itís still at its core a reality show when we try to bring even more heart to it and more reality to it. So, itís the same but different.
Stan Lee: Itís still a reality show but I think weíre just trying to make it a little more of a production, a little more spectacular.
Andy Scheer: Yeah. I mean (like these), I mean we didnít do that last year.
I just want to ask what qualities do you think make up that everyday hero?
Stan Lee: Well, letís see. I would guess, as we have mentioned on the show, quality such as loyalty, devotion to oneís duty and self-sacrifice, dependability, courage, you know, the type of things you would imagine that a hero should possess, and the test that we have in the show while we try to make them colorful and perhaps even a little bit humorous but these tests are created in order to find out which of the contestants has those qualities in the greatest abundance.
Weíd like to think they all have those qualities or we wouldnít have chosen them to begin with but now we have to find out which one has been the most.
Andy Scheer: And the trigger thing is testing them in a way where, you know, itís - in ways that bring it out rather than just, you know, itís not like a multiple choice question, you know, we have to sort of be clever because those are qualities that are displayed and not just - it have to be displayed genuinely rather than just acts it.
Q: The first season was very innovative and new. Is there anything that you did differently this season that youíre really excited about or that you think will really spark some (news in)?
Stan Lee: Well, Andy is so excited about it that if talk first, heíll kill me soÖ
Andy Scheer: No, no. You can go with that.
I mean hereís - what we tried to do is stay true to being a reality show with heart, you know, anchored by Stan, whoís wonderful on camera, add a little bit more reality, a little bit more of the people getting to know them, and then on top of that, put them in bigger, larger than life adventures, you know, real mission where you get a sense of their - you know, inside the comic book, so to speak, and going up against the notorious villains, you know, because in - great heroes are made with great villains, I think Stan would say.
Stan Lee: And the thing is, by having a villain, we also have somebody for the heroes go up against, as well as all the little tricks and the little obstacles that we put in their way.
And the thing that really amazes me or that has amazed me about the show, in most super - in most reality shows, the contestants are really competitors and they canít wait for the other ones to be eliminated so theyíll win. But in this particular, show, we donít know if everyone wants to win.
They seemed to form a bond with each other, and there is genuine sorrow on all their part, when one is eliminated, the sympathy that they have for the one each week whoís eliminated is quite genuine.
And itís amazing to see to have these people come together and becomes friends and care for each other even though they are competitors. And as a matter of fact, the ones from last season show, they still get together regularly and correspond with each other, and theyíve become best friends, and Iíve never seen anything like that on a reality show before. I think itís very heartwarming.
Q: I want to ask you guys separate questions here. For Andy, you know, Iím curious when you decide to come in to the show. Youíre obviously coming in the second season.
Were there some things that you said yourself, ďYou know, I want to accomplish this. I really donít want to have this happening,Ē or was it a matter of just sort of evolving as the season progress?
Andy Scheer: You know, I got the call and I went home and I looked at all the DVDs and I said, ďThis is a great show, and I want to do this, this and thisĒ and, you know, I think with Stanís stuff, I sparked some ideas.
And basically, I wanted to keep the (core) the same, a reality show with heart and, you know, anchored by Stan whoís just - Iím not just saying that heís tremendous on camera. And heís so genuine, you know, you just sort of fall in love with them as a viewer. So that was amazing not just (wrapped up).
But then on of that, I wanted to put them into real-life - present a real-life world where villains existed and evil was everywhere.
So, we created a world where that existed. We are stepping into- you know, our Gotham as it were, one of the arching narratives so that you could follow week to week as the overall story progress.
And then the tricky thing, what they did last year because, you know, surprising the (casts), I presume that everybody did what I did which is to study the show.
And we have to pool people that has studies the show, thatís a little, - you know, you canít get the genie back on the bottle, you know, we built, you know, the - we have to pool them in creative, smart, fun way. So, it was a very challenging and ultimately very fulfilling show. Iím - you know Iím very pleased with it.
Q: All right. Thanks a lot. I appreciate that.
Stan, Iím sure - this is for you. You know, obviously, youíre just iconic figure, you know, a lot of - over the years, a lot of your characters, you know, they sort of move on without you -- you know, someone else had the helm, someone else is deciding what happens with them.
You know, is that a tough thing for you to watch, to see a character and think ďWell, I donít know if I would have done that or I wish I could do this with this character,Ē or can you just sort of let them go and let them find their own story now?
Stan Lee: Well, Iíve had to let them go because I couldnít keep control over them forever. But Iíve been very lucky because the people whoíve taken the reign after me, the people who are making the movie versions, for example, are so brilliant and are doing such a good job, and the movies are so spectacular that theyíre making me look better than ever.
So Iíve got no complaints, and Iíve never felt that kind of pride or ownership where I donít want anybody to touch anything that Iíve created, I mean, you know, you have to be smart enough to know that, at some point, other people will take over just like Andy has taken over our show, and if the people are as talented as you hope they will be, and luckily they have been, then you just enjoy the ride.
Andy Scheer: Iíll just ping you back. And then Stan, if you asked the characters, they always say that Stan was their love though.
Stan Lee: Andy, Iíll pay you off later on after the interview. And tell mum Iíll be late for dinner.
Q: I have to say right away, Iíve been reading your comics for 20 years of my life.
Stan Lee: Wow.
Q: And with that, it feels like the average age of comic books fan has went up, I mean - and my question there is some of the heroes on the show be like, you know, classic type heroes, but what I got to know is with somebody like (Fat Momma) from last year or Hygena from this year, do you guys have - already have a plan in place to make her (colorful) appeal to that age group or itís not even your goal?
Stan Lee: No, weíre not really thinking of age group appeal, weíre just thinking of getting some interesting colorful variety. You know, if we just chose ten people, ten men, letís say who all are very strong and powerful-looking; I think it would be a dull show.
So we want to get all types because, basically, and Iím sure youíre aware of it, those of you whoíve been reading the comics, anybody could be a superhero.
Q: (Of course).
Stan Lee: Spiderman was just Peter Parker, a nerdy kind of teenage boy.
So, to make the show interesting and powerful, the more variety of characters we can get, I think the better it is.
Andy Scheer: I think whatís amazing about the show is that it is - it isnít just, you know, the adolescent, itís not one sort of type of person that aspires to be a hero or that was touched by Stanís writing and by comics in general and that - you know, thatís what great. Yeah, we looked for diversity of casts, but itís out there and itís not hard to find.
Stan Lee:Youíre right. You know, youíd be amazed if you could have seen literally the thousands of applicants that originally applied for this to be contestants. They were every size and shape and age and type of person.
They were so different, all of them, and I thought that was great to know that, in this country, so many different types of people really feel ďGee, Iíd really like to be a superhero.Ē
Andy Scheer: We had people from across the country, all walks of life, not just the ones that you mentioned but, you know, cops, circus performers, researches, scientists, doctors, lawyers, we really had full gamut of professions, teachers, everybody was represented, fun.
Stan Lee: Youíd be amazed how many of the people who applied were literally professional people, there were quite a number, as Andy said, of doctors, of lawyers, architects, people like - you wouldnít expect to volunteer for a show like this and yet they were.
Andy Scheer: We didnít have any bloggers, Stan. I thought we missed thatÖ
Stan Lee: Oh, no. Iím doing - Iím preparing a special show for - Who Wants to Be A Blogger.
Andy Scheer: But I mean blogger professional should have come forward (with you) on the show, sir.
Q: Yes. Hello. I just - first of all, Mr. Lee, I just wanted to say that I grew up listening to your voice, you know, in front of all the Spiderman cartoonists, so itís kind of (here, Iím listening to the) voice here, so - but I always enjoy that.
Stan Lee: Well, thank you.
Q: But my question was just, you know, from the comments weíre creating, you know, from your characters, you know, from - you know, in the past like Spiderman andÖ
Stan Lee: Uh-huh.
Q: ÖX-men and everything else, how do you think the - you know, especially now that we have reality shows like this, you know, Who Wants to Be a Superhero and we see these blockbuster movies coming out, I mean do you think the world of comic books, the - Stanís of comic books have changed over the decades that the taste of change or that - has there been any specific change in the audience and what theyíre looking for or what they expect when they kind of see something come from the comic book genre?
Stan Lee: Oh, everything changes from year to year -- movies, television, comic books, video games, everything changes and more into something else and the comic books have been changing too.
But the one thing that remains constant, people want to be entertained. Sometimes the method in which theyíre entertained, the style of entertainment they vary.
And thatís why our show like Who Wants to Be a Superhero, we think that that is one of the things thatís good for today, if the taste change tomorrow, weíll adopt the show and make that a little different too. But nothing is constant.
If you look at the early moves, the silent movies, the stories were different -- the rhythm of them was different to what they are today and even early talkies.
And if you read the very earliest comic books and compare them with todayís comics, theyíre written a little differently, the (odd) work looks different and the same with television show. Sure, everything does change, and I think thatís a good thing.
Q: And what do you think of - I mean what do you think of where comic books have gone movie-wise, I mean, you know, we think of, you know, what do you see it was doing, you know, about 20 years ago with Batman and such and now what weíre seeing now Marvel, it was - with the movie industry, I mean do you - you know, what are your thoughts in there, what are your thoughts about on where this gone, you know, at least, you know, (in films)?
Stan Lee: I think theyíre getting better and better because theyíre able to do better special effects so the movies now besides concentrating, of course, what you have to do on characterization but theyíve also become eye-candy.
And to get back to Who Wants to Be a Superhero by giving all our characters costumes and so forth, an interesting costume, we hope, we tried to make that eye-candy also for the viewers.
Q: All right. Well, thanks a lot for talking with us today, sir.
This question actually segues pretty well from the last one and thatís with all the added special effects and production things that are in this season of the show. How much fun do you guys have doing the show, and are there any parts surrounding the production which you find trying?
Stan Lee: All right, Andy, do that because he has been involved in the day-to-day production of it.
Andy Scheer: I mean the whole thing is a combination of the ton of work to make it, you know, youíve got a lot of people, you got to get on the same page, you know, youíre kind of - you know, some people you havenít worked with before so youíre kind of learning about each other, so thereís challenge to any production.
But I have to say that this was probably the most fun I had on any show because we were doing this crazy adventure, you know, when doing something that really kind of having been done exactly this way before and people steps up, we had - we laughed all the time on the set.
Stan - you know, Iím not just saying this, but Stan is an absolute pleasure to work with and I couldnít believe I was actually shoulder-to-shoulder writing with on some stuff.
So heís just - you know, it - but, you know, itís a lot of hard work and a lot of hours so itís a combination of the two. But I think that everyone on the show felt we were making something pretty special because it - you know, it had a great vibe on set and it hadnít - itís not been done exactly like this before.
Stan Lee: One thing I like about the show, I remember, years ago, when I was doing the comics, I really loved what I was doing and the artist I worked with loved it too.
And I find if you enjoy what youíre doing, that comes across to the viewers or the readers, and on this show, every one of us involved in the show is having such a good time, we are enjoying what weíre doing so much and the contestants are enjoying it so much.
And I just think that that feeling itís fun for us somehow rather, thatís got to translate to the viewer where it will be fun for the viewer also, and judging by a lot of the comments Iíve heard, apparently, it is one thing thatís made me the happiest -- a lot of people have written and said that this is the one show they enjoy watching with their whole family, they think of it as a family show and I think thatís kind of gratifying.
Q: I just truly believe that youíve given so much and so much enjoyment to all of us, Stan, in Monsters and Critics alike.
I want to know, outside of the obvious, what makes you passionate, what - other than creating iconic characters and doing great reality shows, what are some of your secret passion that maybe your fans donít know about you thatÖ
Stan Lee: Oh yeah. I never really thought about it. I think, well, maybe the thing Iím most passionate about is enjoying what I do and trying to transfer that enjoyment to the reader or the viewer that Iím involved with.
And a lot of people have asked me, you know, what do you think is the most important thing in choosing a career. You know, (unintelligible) any big guru about that. but in trying to answer, Iíve usually said, ďI think the most important thing is do something that you enjoy doing because then you donít feel youíre working, itís like youíre playing, itĒ - I enjoy this show so much and the people Iím working with that I canít wait to come to the studio everyday and do what I have to do.
And I think the only thing worth being passionate about is if you - you got to enjoy the person youíre married to, your children, your family, your work, just to enjoy things because there are so many bad things in the worldÖ
Öthat the more you can enjoy what youíre doing and the more good things you can get a hold of, and Iím getting very dull and Iím confused and Iím going to stop talking now, I had an idea what I wanted to say, I think I lost it somewhere along the way.
Q: I have one quick question follow-up. Are you a Yankees man or a Mets man?
Stan Lee: Oh, golly. You know, Iíd stopped really being a baseball fanÖ
Öyears ago. In fact, today, Iím - you asked that question and Iím wondering which city do this team belongs to.
Andy Scheer: Iíll answer it for him. Iím a Yankee fan, heís a Yankee fan.
Q: All right. Well, I got a question kind of for both of you. I was curious who has been your old-time favorite superhero throughout the comics? And does that actually have some sort of influence on, you know, what youíre seeing on your show and who you like better than the others?
Andy Scheer: I - what can I tell you? I grew up with a spidy fan. Enough said, you knowÖ
But, you know, in putting the show, you know, we canít have - if I have a favorite, I couldnít tell you, and I didnít have any favorite, of course.
They were - you know, every person on the show, you fall in love with them to some degree, I mean you just - thatís why you go through casting, thereís something about them, you know, you love and you - not how they distinguish themselves, and in terms of the creation of the show, you know, we created the show independent of - I guess, the adventures are just like ďWhat can we do?,Ē you know, ďWhat kind of crazy stuff can we do that will fool them and excite them?Ē And I guess I really wasnít (parking) back any one particular hero but just the whole love of comic books.
And I think, (constantly), what weíre trying to sort of think about what this experience, what credo of Stan he has written about would or what are the qualities of a superhero might come out if we put our aspirants in this environment.
So we were constantly thinking of the qualities that are exhibited in the superhero but never, to be honest, focusing on one particular hero that I, you know, grew up reading.
Stan Lee: We can show no favoritism in this show. We are as impartial as great judges should be.
Q: All right. I was curious because I have noticed that youíve been in a lot of other films doing cameos and stuff, especially in your (film), it seemed like you tried to show up for at least a little bit (kind of like) - I was wondering if thatís kind of a tribute to other great directors and such like Alfred Hitchcock who always tried to have a cameo or if you just do it for the fun of it?
Stan Lee: No, itís just my own vanity. Iím trying to do more cameos than Hitchcock did. You see Iím - like Barry Bonds, Iím going for a record here.
Andy Scheer: I thought he (carried) Fantastic Four 2.
Stan Lee: By the way, I - you know, I donít want to get mad at you, but I do kind of resent you referring to them as cameos, I think of that... as the leading role. Iím amazed my name isnít above the title.
Q: Any other plans for any new Sci-Fi shows or movie?
Stan Lee: Well, I hope the people at Sci-Fi are listening and I hope theyíre saying, ďGee, what a great idea. Letís feature (it again) in a few movies.Ē
Q: Hey guys.
There was one thing I wanted to ask you. One of the other things that I do here is I cover a lot of convention. And I have to know was there some character that was still bizarre out there that we didnít even get to see in the very first episode that you guys have to turn down?
Andy Scheer: Yeah. I mean, well, there are so many. Did you saw - did you see the first episode? We had a lot of people that just didnít quite make it for variety of reasons.
You know, some people are very compelling in short verse but to think theyíre not really going to make it through the whole grueling experience, you know, we had in the roads to the final ten, we had loud man, we had homeless man, we had the guy in the banana suit, you know. SoÖ
So, you know, I hope that answered your question but we had - I mean we saw thousands and thousands of people and there is people that almost that gotten very far down the road on the audition process who just didnít make it for - again, for a variety of reasons.
And, you know, those are equally compelling guys. Like Thorn, he was very close, he was actually, you know, on the Internet vote, and he - you know, he had came from another planet and had a whole back story so - but, you know, he didnít make it pass the Internet vote to get on. Does that answer your question, or vaguely enough?
Stan Lee: I think we had - didnít we have one fellow - one of the contestants on this show had tried out for the previous show and didnít make it so he tried again.
Q: Hi gentlemen.
Itís clear from the call how much love you both have for the project. So, Iím wondering if you see yourself doing this five, ten years down the road and if you are already thinking ahead to the future like already thinking of things you might want to do in season three, four or five or you just focus on the job in front of you?
Stan Lee: well, I havenít thought thatís far ahead but, you know, we had received a - an inquiry from England, they wanted to know if they could do a junior version of the show.
I donít know how it - what the responses been yet but I thought that was interesting. And we kid around among ourselves that if we need spin-offs, how about doing and who wants to be a villain or who wants to beÖÖa psychic or who wants to be a damsel in distress or you could go on and on, I - we could take over all of television within different versions of this thing.
Andy Scheer: You know, for me - yeah. this is a great franchise and Iím - as I was making it, I kept a little notebook of ideas of things for Season 3, youíll never know what happens with TV, but absolutely, you know, you get your mind around something and youíre going, ďUhhhm, you know, weíre obviously down the road in certain ways that - with the creative ideas,Ē you know, hearing this, letís put that idea we just thought of in the middle of, you knowÖÖwhen the bees are swarming and, you know, save the for Season 3.
So yeah, I mean there is - you know, if you keep your mind active, youíre going to come up with some fun stuff. So yeah, that definitely happened.
Stan Lee: Well, I do have an idea for Season. Iíve been a little upset that everybody wears a costume but me, and in Season 3, Iíd like to figure out how I can be a costume character too, but weíll talk about that after this is over, Andy.
Q: Hi, Stan. I have a quick question. Actually, I have two questions for you. Is there cameo role in Iron Man yet, (and was it)? And then why do think comic books are skewing older?
Stan Lee: The role - you asked about if I had a cameo in Iron Man yet? All I can say is it is probably the greatest one Iíve had so far and the funniest and donít you dare miss it. Iím not allowed to say what it is but itís very surprising and Iíve loved it.
The second question, Iím afraid I missed dear.
Q: Why do you think comic book readers are (skewing) older?
Stan Lee: I think comic books themselves are getting more literate. And, you know, we now have people who are screenwriters and television writers and novelists well know who are writing for the comics, for some reason, they love doing it and some of the art work in the comics, I mean it rivals anything youíll see hanging on the walls of museums, theyíre illustrations more than drawings and all the people are discovering this and theyíre turning on to it.
Comics are really just starting to be sold in bookstores now, you know, graphic novels and - I just hope we donít eventually lose the kids, I hope theyíll always be comics for kids also.
But one of the things that will keep the kids he says trying to segue back to the show is I think shows like ours because since a lot of people think of it as a family type show, the kids watch it with their parents or their older sisters and brothers and I think that gives them a fondness for costume characters, and where do they find them, but in comic books. How was that?
Q: Thatís great.
Do you think the prices of comic books are affected?
Stan Lee: Oh, I donít know. Iíve been away from it so long. Iím not even sure what comic books cost now. But comparatively, theyíve always been one of the cheapest forms of entertainment, except for TV which is free.
Except for a show, I should have said ďExcept for a show like Who Wants to Be a Superhero that you can watch for nothing.Ē
Q: Hi guys again. I was thinking of comic books, and comic books are pretty much known for a lot of crossovers especially in the Marvel universe.
Do you think youíll have past characters from the previous seasons coming to visit or at least play a part?
Stan Lee: Well, Andy can tell you. We even have been using Feedback a little bit. Can you tell them, Andy?
<Andy Scheer: Feedback has a crucial role in bringing all of the - this yearís contestants from their home town to Stanís lair, so heís got a very crucial role there and heís got other stuff that Iím not of liberty to reveal at this time very much like Stanís cameo in Iron Man.
Q: I have one more question. Because of the - there are a lot of comic book movies and especially like science fiction movies with, you know, heroes on TV and, you know, Fantastic Four and everything. Do you think that comic books and stuff will just continue to become popular or do you think that it might start tapering off?
Stan Lee: Well, comic books sort of follow with the move - if people see the movie and if theyíre interested in the character and want to see more of the character, they start buying the comic books.
So a good movie helps the sale of the comic books and the comic books help the movie and one hand washes the other. So, I donít think thereís any reason to think that comics will die out, I think it actually theyíre selling better than ever these days.
Q: There seems to be a delicate balance between - Stan, a lot of the great thing about a lot of your superheroes is there such a nice balance between human flaws and super powers. How do you think the characters on the show do as far as that balance?
Stan Lee:I think again, Andy can tell you this, but theyíre as flawed as anybody you could find. Weíre all flawed and none of us are perfect, and the beautiful thing about our characters is they have great qualities and they have their flaws, as Andy is now about to tell you.
Andy Scheer: I mean thatís the thing -- weíre really not, you know, testing, weíre not doing a show where the strongest, the fastest wins, thatís not just our show, weíre looking at, you know, to see as Stan would say the heart and soul of the hero if they have that.
And so thatís, you know, you might call that flaws, you know, itís more like foils, we were looking at - and thatís basically how Stan is deciding who stay and who goes, so, thatís very much a part of our show and itís - you know, I havenít thought of it until now, you know, sort of going off with your idea, who more acts on the comic world and Stan who really did changed the comic book landscape by, you know, making Peter Parker an adolescent and, you know, flawed and normal all at the same time.
Stan Lee: That was normal as a Spiderman can be that is.
Andy Scheer: Exactly, with - yeah, with real-life issues.
So - anyway, so thatís really the - you know, that are the crazy little (Jackís) position in our show is that we need them to be human, we need to get to know their foils, and at the same time, weíre giving them this larger-than-life adventure that, you know, any of us, you know, that ever dreamed of being a hero at once or wanted.
Q: I have a question for you because Iíve been watching the season Who Wants to Be a Superhero. Some of the tests that have been devised to the superheroes like assisting a woman with a (walker) into her car or trying to pick up a lost dog by the phone that - whatever happened to that lost dog.
But anyway, Iím just curious how you come up with the test that you devised for these heroes? They seemed so simple in common place and yet so, you know, practical as well and so super - you know, superhero. So, just what are the creative juices that go into your thoughts in terms of devising these tests?
Stan Lee: Well, thatís part of the genius of Andy Scheer. Iíve been wondering myself, how do you it, Andy?
Andy Scheer: You know, itís really all us. I mean we started this process months before we started taping and, you know, itís really sitting in the room with, you know, Stan and others and just saying ďWhat if this happen?Ē
And then you kind of - you have to be merciless, you got to go, ďYou know, that would workĒ or you go, ďYeah. But then this and then that,Ē and I remember the moment that the lost puppy popped out, we were struggling with - so to speak, we were struggling with, you know, how to make, you know, a moment where they would get a hidden test more interesting, and what if they were - they missed, you know, a little - a lost puppy (unintelligible) and then we visualize this just like a mind filled of bunch of bogies where theyíre being distracted and the real thing we, you know - certainly their car was jacked andÖ
Ö(unintelligible) were missing but, you know, we just envision - visualize like a bunch of different hidden test they would be surrounded by and, you know, that - then what happened?
So, you know, itís like any show. I think the show is more challenging because you know that your audience is familiar with you and you have to still fool them with hidden tests because the only way you can get those core values of the heart and soul of the hero because you canít get it directly, people reveal those rather than, you know, fill out a multiple choice, as I said before, and you just, you know - and weíre testing for elusive qualities, you know, so itís not like who can sing the best or who can dance the best or who can remember the lyrics is the best, itís that - itís a soft science. So itís - Iím not trying to applaud, Iím just thinking itís a very challenging and, you know, fulfilling process, we just sit in a room and you put index cards up on the wallÖ
Stan Lee: You see people thinkÖ
Andy Scheer: Öand you snap it all out.
Stan Lee: Öthis is just your average, magnificent television reality show but itís so much more than that, I mean you have to be almost a nuclear scientist or a brain surgeon to be able to devise these intricate tests that we give these candidates and you have to be a psychologist because weíre going inside the id and the ego of each person in trying to bring our facets of their personality that they themselves arenít even.
In fact, Iím amazed that this show isnít part of every college course at - in your universities where they study it in the point of view of a - well, you know, Iím getting too emotional (unintelligible) butÖ
Andy Scheer: Yeah.
But, you know, itís the thing that you wouldnít normally think as a superhero - you know, that a superhero idea would fit into a reality show because, you know, weíre not genetically altering people to make them into superheroes, but thatís why itís a heartwarming show because we are testing these things.
And reality show is kind of perfect because you have to let down your guard. A reality show is about being yourself. So, it kind of in an odd way worked.
Stan Lee: So itís allÖÖin your point of viewÖÖfrom my point of view. There is nothing more real than superheroes.
Q: Stan, youíre funny that you mentioned this being part of the college curriculum because I used to teach that in college where I taught psychology in science fiction and fantasy film.
Stan Lee: You are a great human being.
Q: I have two last questions for you. The first question is since the show have no scripts, how do you walk to finalize before (you see it) to be a reality show?
Andy Scheer: Well, I can tell you that itís not scripted; I mean you have to remember, itís like any reality show -- you plan and you figure out adventures for you cast members.
But then what happens, who knows, you know, and then you have to react to that but, you know, think about it, you know, weíre never putting words in our contestantsí mouths, yeah, we have them get caught, you know, by a gorgeous villainist named Bee Sting, we donít know how theyíre going to react to that, we donít know how theyíre going to react in the wind tunnel or with Mr. Long or with the carjacking and the lost puppy who we do think we - you know, he did find the home or his way back to his home.
But, really, ultimately, itís not about ever asking our casts to act, itís mostly to react to the things and the gotchaís and the adventures that we, you know, spent all that time creating.
Stan Lee: As a matter of fact, itís very much like the way it was when I used to write stories.
I have a general idea in my mind of what the story was and I start writing it but I never knew from page - I never knew what the next page was going to be until I started writing it because I always try to put myself in the position of the reader who is in suspense and wondering whatís coming next or if I could feel the same way, then ultimately, the reader would relate to the story.
And thatís the way it is really with the show. We had the general idea of what we want to accomplish but everything works out by itself and weíre as surprised by the developments as the viewer might be and that keeps us on edge all the time too and I think it keeps the excitement going for all of us.
And then my last question is even you have time to follow up in your todayís adventures, and if so, which are you reading right now?
Stan Lee: You know, Iíve been so busy with the show that I just havenít been reading comic books lately. In fact, I havenít been reading comics for a while because there is no point to it, Iím busy doing the other things Iím doing so I donít even know whatís happening.
The one thing Marvel civil war series, I was aware of that, I thought it was very clever. But beyond that, Iím really not into the average, you know, the regular comic books anymore.
Andy Scheer: For me, I keep up on, you know, basically TV and film side, I have to say my comic book reading has wane, you know, I still love it and occasionally pick up the comics, Iím a huge Frank Miller fan all over the Dark Night stuff as it was coming out, you know, for the first time. But you just get busy, you know, soÖ
Stan Lee: I think the last comic I wrote was the one about the feedback who won our last series and the prize - one of the prizes is a comic book, so I wrote that form, and I guess Iíll be writing the comic book to the winner of this new series. So, Iím not totally out of the comics but thatís about it.
Andy Scheer: I have to correct myself. That is the last comic book I read, it was the - Who Wants to Be a Superhero and the winner is Feedback comic, 40 pages of comic genius.
Q: Gentlemen, you just talked about how busy you are, and particularly, you Stan. One of the things thatís always impressed me has been your output of material, you work on straight to DVDs, stuff like Condor, you wok on video gamesÖÖlike Marvel (unintelligible). is there any other projects like that coming up you can tell us about?
Stan Lee: Oh yeah. Weíre working on a lot of things. We have a project with Ringo Starr that weíre doing and we have a couple of movies that are in development now at Disney. Iím not allowed to mention anymoreÖÖyou know, and other things.
But frankly, Iíve been concentrating a great deal on these television series because thereís something so immediate about a television series, I mean itís there week after week after week and youíre a part of it. And I really find that tremendously exciting, Iíve never enjoyed anything more than doing the series.
Öthat bothers me is Iím just a disembodied head in a television screen in this thing. I donít got a chance to move around very much although Andy gave me a couple of scenes where I actually am a person moving rather than just a head on the screen. I donít know - have those scenes (popped up yet)Ö
Andy Scheer: No, Stan, thatís part of the big surpriseÖ
Stan Lee:Öoh, maybe I shouldíve have said anything.
Andy Scheer: No, no. I think itís exciting, itís important to know that youíre going to see even more Stan Lee in this season.
Stan Lee: Yeah, he moves, he walks, he talks.
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