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Meet Stan Lee

[IMG:L]Creator Stan Lee used to wonder about Iron Man/Tony Stark’s popularity among the opposite sex until it donned on him, “He’s handsome, he’s glamorous, he’s wealthy, he’s very macho and he also has a weak heart and he needs care.” Indeed. Lee now says he received more “fan mail from females than any other character.”

In preparation for the Sept. 30 Iron Man DVD debut, we sat down with the comic book icon and owner of POW! (Purveyors of Wonder not to be confused with Prisoner of War) to talk about the characters he’s created over the course of his career.

On the ill fated Black Widow TV show:
“I had arranged for one of the networks to do a TV series based on the character. In those days, Bo Derek was a big star and was supposed to be the most beautiful woman, a number 10. We got Bo … and I can’t remember if it was ABC or CBS, but one of them was excited about doing the series. The person who at that time was running Marvel said, ‘No. I don’t want to do it.’ I asked why and he said, ‘Well, if the series doesn’t do well it’ll hurt our character.’ I couldn’t understand that kind of logic because if you feel that way then you’d never do anything.”

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On the many obstacles of Spider-Man:
“My publisher didn’t want to publish Spider-Man. He said it was the worst idea that he’d ever heard for a character. I wanted Spider-Man to be a teenager that had a million problems. My publisher said, ‘First of all, Stan, people hate spiders. So you can’t call a character Spiderman.’ Then he said, ‘He can’t be a teenager because teenagers can only be sidekicks, not a hero. Then you say that you want him to have problems? Don’t you know what a superhero is?’ So from his point of view he was right, but it just so happened that I found the right artist and apparently we handled it in the right way and it caught on.

On not bringing characters together onscreen:
“In the comics it happened accidentally. I wrote each book separately, but then at one point it occurred to me that if they all lived in New York why wouldn’t they meet and wouldn’t it be fun to have them get together in a story. But some of the characters are under contract to different studios. Spider-Man is at Sony, and Iron Man is at Paramount and so forth. So they’ve got to take characters that they can control so to speak and put them together.”

On his thwarted cameo:
“I was disappointed with the one in the Iron Man movie, I must confess, because I had a line there that they cut out. I’m standing there with my arms around three attractive blondes which was not too unpleasant, and they wanted me to be a little like Hugh Hefner and so they even gave me a pipe. Then Tony Stark taps me on the shoulder from the back and thinks I’m Hugh Hefner and when I turn around and he says, ‘Oh, I’m sorry’…I was supposed to say…’Oh, that’s okay. I get that all the time.’

On what he was like as a boy:
“I was adorable. At least my mother always told me that [laughs]. The teachers in school always tried to get me to shut up. They said that I always made too much noise and was always kidding around with the other kids and felt that I didn’t take anything seriously, which maybe I didn’t …We didn’t have any money. The worst part was the summer. A lot of the kids would go away for camp or for vacation. I was usually the one kid who stayed behind. I’d go to the schoolyard with a little ball and hope that I could get someone to play handball with me.”

On childhood freedom:
“The greatest thing that happened to me when I was a kid was that somehow or another my parents, when I was about 10 or 12, pulled enough money together to buy me a two wheeled bike, and oh man, that gave me the freedom to go all over the city!

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