Tom Holland had a major task ahead of him when he took on the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the actor has more than exceeded expectations. In the five years since he was cast as the iconic hero, he’s made a place for himself in the hearts of comic book fans and moviegoers alike. Despite this, he still had one critic to overcome – Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. The late writer was ultimately pleased with Holland’s take on the character but, when the two first met, Lee couldn’t help but have some fun with him.
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn recently held a Q&A on Instagram, during which he revealed that he was actually the one who formally introduced Tom Holland and Stan Lee. And according to Gunn, Lee managed to land a friendly zinger on the newly cast actor:
I introduced Stan to Tom Holland just after Tom was hired to play Spider-Man. Stan says to him, 'Yes of course! I hear you're great! Personally, I don't see it!' And we all died laughing.
If that’s not a Stan Lee introduction, I don’t know what is. One thing Lee was known for was his sharp wit, which stayed with him into his later years. So it’s not surprising that he would do a little gentle ribbing when meeting the newest actor to play his beloved wall-crawler.
Tom Holland, on the other hand, had to be feeling a mixture of emotions. Getting the role of Spider-Man and just getting started in a massive franchise must have been nerve-racking enough, but meeting one of his creators probably only added to it. Luckily, for him, Stan Lee seemed kind and, when you think about it, Lee’s joke probably served as a nice icebreaker for him. And as a result, he also has a nice story he can tell his grandkids one day.
Stan Lee was, of course, famous for his various cameos in different Marvel projects and, in recent years, that mostly pertained to the MCU films. While working on set, he formed close relationships with the casts and crews. Marvel directors like Anthony Russo and Peyton Reed praised him for his work on their sets.
When Lee passed away, he was widely mourned by the Marvel family, with many actors like Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. Even sometime after his death, some Marvel stars still take time to remember the man who helped shape the Marvel Universe.
Tom Holland and Stan Lee’s first encounter is a prime example of why Lee was who he was, and it’s also one of the many reasons that superhero fans miss him. It’s safe to say there will never be another Stan Lee, but fans can rest easy knowing that the continued popularity of his characters and memories like this one help to keep his legacy alive.