Kevin Feige has had a key role in the development of Marvel films since 2000's X-Men, when his vast knowledge of the comic book universe impressed executives. He has since become President of Marvel Studios, overseeing a string of MCU superhero films for 10 years, culminating with Avengers: Infinity War this summer. In service to the millions of Marvel fans mourning Stan Lee's recent passing, Feige has now shared his last interaction with the comic book mastermind. In his words:
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.
Stan Lee died two weeks ago at age 95. Filmmakers, stars, and fans have been sharing their reactions to Lee's death, reviewing their experiences with the icon, and discussing his lasting impact. Kevin Feige's touching recount of his last interaction with Lee gives fans an insight into his mindset in his final weeks. It sounds like Lee was feeling more nostalgic than usual, but his personality was also still shining as bright as an Infinity Stone. Feige continued with:
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.'
The memory is likely a bittersweet one for Kevin Feige, who shared that story with Entertainment Weekly, along with a touching tribute to Stan Lee's influence on him. The Marvel executive said he enjoyed his interactions with Stan Lee, and when Lee showed up on set for his cameos he was always enthusiastic. Sometimes even too enthusiastic, pitching more lines to say and then pulling back, knowing full well he shouldn't overshadow the hero.
Kevin Feige also shared the importance of Stan Lee as a storyteller to the modern mythology we know and love -- such as Spider-Man, Hulk, and Fantastic Four. Lee always felt "a story without a message is like a man without a soul" as he penned in one of his old "Stan's Soapbox" columns.
Kevin Feige also pointed out how a masterful achievement such as Ryan Coogler's Black Panther would not have been possible without the writer's decision to create a black superhero at the height of the civil rights movement. Black Panther was a "risk" for the publisher at a time of division, but his belief in humanity and the improvement of it rose above.
Kevin Feige has a key role in bringing Marvel stories to the big screen with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, knowing many of those stories were made possible through Stan Lee's influence. It's clear Feige understands the mindset of the man who started it all, and seeks to continue to offer content for Marvel fans, always keeping us excited for more.