Marvel Then and Now: An Evening With Stan Lee and Joe Quesada
The Hero Initiative Very Very Live: Marvel Then and Now: An Evening With Stan Lee and Joe Quesada Hosted by Kevin Smith 2007
In honor of this month’s Patreon poll, since I wasn’t able to borrow any of the titles I chose for March’s poll since they were all chosen from my local library’s shelves, I decided to pick a similar non-fiction title that I haven’t covered here yet. I plan on watching the winning title Crumb as soon as the library re-opens. I’ve had this on DVD for quite a while but never got around to watching it before now. I’ve seen a few different Stan Lee interviews and was able to see him live once, I’ve also been a big fan of Kevin Smith and have enjoyed a lot of his speaking engagements whether it’s his podcasts or other things similar to this. Unfortunately, this was filmed mostly live with several technical difficulties, low sound quality for most of the run time, and poor editing with some repetition thrown in. Not nearly the best way to watch an interview with these two about Marvel.
As this night was hosted by Kevin Smith, his energy more or less takes over a large portion of the run time. If you’re more interested in the Marvel backstories, you’ll have to sit through plenty of swearing and self-deprecating fat jokes. If you’re a fan of Kevin Smith, it’s a lot of his usual schtick and it plays accordingly. Stan Lee is also his usual persona but something that’s noticeable when you hear a lot of his stories multiple times is that they do tend to get repetitive. It’s often the same stories about the creation of several of his most famous comic book characters like Spider-Man or the X-Men. It is worth mentioning that he gives a bit more than lip service to the often undervalued artists, especially as this even was brought about by a charity intended to help comic book artists who have fallen on hard times. When talking about the creation of Spider-Man, he specifically mentions that his only specific direction about the costume was that he should be more like a teenager and less like a bulky Captain America, and that he should look like someone named Spider-Man. After that, Steve Ditko came up with the rest.
What’s difficult to overlook in this DVD is how much is included. It is a 2 and 1/2 hour run time and while the three on stage do help to make some of the technical difficulties more entertaining as they struggle to attach microphones, or when Stan Lee lays down on the couch resulting in some major feedback, there is a lot of down time that makes this a harder watch than it should have been. There are also some major sound quality problems with the wireless microphones that have a very tinny and echo-y quality in the large room. They do switch to handheld microphones over halfway through, but shortly afterwards they bring on guests with the wireless mic packs that bring back the bad sound quality. Since there are guests, there are a few moments when they cut to talking head style interviews with the guests as well as Kevin Smith, but several times what they say as a talking head is very similar to what was said during the live show. There’s also a moment towards the end where they auction off a signed poster from the first X-Men movie that goes on for way too long despite a sweet ending where the winner of the auction gives the poster to Stan Lee.
One thing that was almost more interesting than the show itself was the decoration for the stage. As this was filmed towards the end of 2006, this was before the Marvel Studios films and the majority of posters featured what are now considered some of the worst Marvel movies like the Punisher, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man 3, X-Men 3, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Ang Lee’s Hulk, and the single good movie X2. Alongside some of the standard stories like the origins of Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and Stan’s run on Captain America there were a small handful of new and interesting stories. One of the best came from Joe Quesada as he recounted how they were about to cancel Spider-Girl but they received a touching letter from a young girl about how the character was inspiring to her so they decided to keep it going. The story was picked up by a teen magazine who wanted to contact the young girl, and when Marvel contacted them first to try and set things up, they realized that the young girl was technically only six months old and it was her father who wrote the letter instead, even going so far as to write in a young child’s handwriting style. Aside from that, it was difficult to really stay focused during the entire two hour plus show, especially as the three hosts frequently changed places, Kevin Smith liked to keep turning the chair and even the couch around to sit on it backwards, and at one point Stan Lee thought that Kevin Smith had been talking when it was actually Joe Quesada and that derailed the conversation for several minutes. A few of these derailments were funny and endearing, but there were just too many of them. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.